SCAM ALERT: International Speaking Invitations
Most of us are cautious when we get an email asking us to send money to a friend that went on an ‘unexpected’ international trip and they’ve now lost their wallet and need you to wire them anywhere from $500 – $5000. First of all, most people don’t take ‘unexpected’ international trips and second, we all know we would call our family and friends directly versus asking them to wire us the money.
SCAM! SCAM! SCAM!
Or, the email that tells us we’ve ‘inherited’ millions of dollars if we allow them to transfer money in to our account once we send them our banking and routing info and a check for $3000 to cover their attorney fees. This seems like a great return on our paying the attorney fees, but once we make the deposit, they disappear like a ghost. If you inherit money, you never have to pay to claim it. Any attorney fees or costs are handled prior to the distribution of the funds.
Well, for those of us that are paid to speak, the newest scam may have gotten us, so read on.
The new scam out now involves being invited to speak at an international conference. The perpetrator sends you a well worded letter that speaks of how awesome you are and that they found you through your website and they know that you would be a perfect fit for their event. You email them back and the hustle begins. Ultimately, they will ask you to send them money to cover the cost of you obtaining a ‘work permit’ to come and be a speaker. Never do this. Do your research by calling the US Consulate for the country you are interested in traveling to handles international speakers and find out what type of legal documentation and forms AND cost are necessary. From experience I can tell you that the host ministry covers any costs outside of your obtaining a US passport or a VISA.
Here’s how to avoid being scammed by international scam artists:
- Ask them for references. Be polite but ask them for names of other people they’ve had travel overseas and speak at their conferences. You shouldn’t be the first person they’ve ever invited. If you are, that’s a red flag.
- Practice due diligence. Google their name, church name and event name. (It took me less than 3 seconds to find this article about a speaker who was duped by this scam.)
- Avoid desperation. Never agree to ‘pay your own way’ or to be ‘reimbursed’ for travel or hotel costs. Reputable international ministries are just as savvy as US ministries and they understand the protocol of how to host guests and that includes paying for travel and accommodations on their end, and not on your end. You may have to pay for a VISA to enter some countries, but only agree to do this once they’ve sent you your DEPOSIT and PAID travel.
- Ask for guidance. If you’ve never been invited to speak internationally (or locally for that matter), ask someone that has so you will know what to expect. They’ll be able to tell you if the ministry ‘honors the gift’ – meaning you, properly.
Share what tips you’d also follow to avoid this scam in the comments.
Hope this blessed and helped you!