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March 12, 2018

Why I connect to shady characters

Some of you are great. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of my best connections, one of the real people I trust. Or, you’re connected to them, trusted by them, and a great person.

However, there are other people who invite me just to expand their own network, or to try and con me out of money. You’d think I would avoid these people. But, hey, I’m a screenwriter. Or I used to be, before rebranding myself as a “Project Manager.” I love stories, and comedy.

The recent addition to my list is a so-called hedge fund manager. Here’s an excerpt from his profile:

I used to write software for the sixth most profitable company in the world.

Well, I used to work for British Telecom, get that! And, for the European Commission. And one of the top supermarket chains in New Jersey! So, this guy claims to have coded (for Microsoft, Apple and Google no less!), but his communication style makes this sound implausible.

I have started three companies.

Three companies? Could you name at least one? Or, were they all such dismal failures. I personally have started eight! I don’t mention the failures, except at parties (to get laughs.)

I have published many financial, business, and entrepreneurship articles for many of the most popular websites in India, Japan, Australia and the United States of America including but not limited to Seeking Alpha, The Motley Fool, TheStreet.com (NASDAQ: TST) and Insider Monkey.

All those websites accept crappy copy because they don’t pay their writers. “The Street” famously gets one star from reviewers. My favourite is the aptly named “Insider Monkey.”

I have ghostwritten four books.

His books are so bad, he won’t even put his name on them!

I have written a science fiction videogame.

Everyone tries their hand at fiction at some point. Video games are pretty expensive affairs. Obviously, if you’ve written only one and you won’t mention the title, it hasn’t even been produced.

I have written a science fiction short film.

Do you know how many short film scripts I’ve written? He’s had one? If it was any good, he’d name it.

I have produced a television show.

Wow, this guy has a youtube channel, just like my kids! Actually, I have one too, so I shouldn’t talk.

I have excellent oral and verbal communication skills in English and Spanish.

I can speak English. I’m not so good at Spanish though, you have one up on me there.

You can easily hire me right now at Guru, Freelancer and Upwork.

This is the killer! Anyone who works for these usually is ignorant of finance. They take ten percent of your salary, before the financial processing fee! To even admit to working through these is like saying “I’m an idiot!” (Okay, I did work for these in the past, when I was an idiot. Ever hear the song, “Young Dumb and Broke?”)

Okay, if I ever need someone to translate a financial video game into Spanish, I’ll try Upwork.

I normally don’t reveal my private conversations, but this one isn’t really private, it’s a sales pitch by a con artist. And it’s a doozy:

Him:
Your calculator must be broken.
$84,000 x 12 is not and I quote “much less than a million a year “

[Note, if you want to connect to shady characters, you have to start by saying something stupid. Otherwise, they’ll think you’re too smart to fall for their scams.]

Get a new calculator and try again.
Me:
Yes, mathematically it might work. But, whatever, they didn’t name the “billionaire”, numbers seem made up, probably fake news. But, why invite me to connect?
Him:
I run a hedge fund and you seem a bit angry about billionaires and other wealthy individuals.

[Wow, they have hedge funds on Freelancer.com? Or, is that through Quora?]

I am guessing you are not a millionaire yourself.
I have decided to manage your brokerage account remotely and invest half your wages wisely in Wall Street.
In other words, i am going to make some money for you in the stock markets.
Free of charge, I am not trying to sell you anything.
Just for a little while, until you have at least a million dollars in your brokerage account.
My Quora answers about economics and finance have been shared by more than 1,100,000 people from all over the world.
I have written many financial articles in the last six years for many of the largest and most popular websites in the United States of America and other countries including but not limited to Insider Monkey, The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, and TheStreet.com (NASDAQ: TST)
I am guessing you don’t have a brokerage account.
You are going to need one.
I cannot make any money for you in the stock markets without a brokerage account.IT IS A REQUIREMENT.

[is having an upwork account also a requirement? Haha!]

If you need assistance with the paperwork, let me know.
Let me now [sic] if you are interested in this offer.
My services are very expensive and most people cannot afford to hire a hedge fund manager.

[So then, why are you on upwork? ]

You are getting a free ride.
Let me know if you want to do this or not.
Please read a bit more about me before you turn down my generous offer.
This is almost like increasing your current wages by 100%
Let me know.
Me:
So in other words, because I made a single mathematical error (or pretended to, in order to catch out others), you think I’m stupid?
I have nothing against the billionaire, except that he might not exist!
I’m not angry about wealthy individuals. I am not angry at you either. I am actually smiling right now.
I do not want to be an investor. I’m a doer, not a gambler. I’d rather run the business than have someone else run it, even if it would make me less money. I enjoy working with people, not buying things.
Him:
Are you sure?
You can open a lot of real businesses and work with a lot of people with the money I am offering you.
You could be set for life.
Maybe you should spend a bit more time reading my old financial articles before you decide to decline my generous offer.
I am going to give you a week to thing [sic] about this.
If you want to do this, accept my invitation.
If you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t even need to reply to this message. Just let offer expire.
I will pull my invitation in a week.
Remember, I am not trying to sell you anything.
You will get a free ride.
This is almost like sending you a backpack filled with money.
Except, we are simply going to buy and sell short the right stocks at the right time for the right price and you are going to keep all the cash for yourself.
Up to two million dollars.
I am not going to gamble with your cash. I am going to invest it in Wall Street.
It’s only a gamble if you don’t know anything about finance and economics like most people.
Just like the lion tamers at the circus.

[I actually have a story about lion tamers. Can you hire one on upwork, or is that guru.com haha!]

It only seems dangerous but the lion is not going to actually eat them.
Also, like those Nascar race drivers.

[Wow, you can hire anyone on upwork. Or do you hire Nascar drivers through Uber?]

A regular person cannot drive that fast and most people would simply crash and burn at those high speeds.
Professional drivers are trained for that kind of speed and they are not going to die after a few laps.

[sometimes they do, and it is tragic.]

I initially said a million but you don’t seem very impressed about my original offer.
Let’s increase the prize a bit and see if I can convince you to accept this generous gift.
After you get that amount of cash in your brokerage account you are not going to need my services anymore.
You will be wealthy.
You can simply use your small fortune to hire any other hedge fund manager.
Do we have a deal?
Most people simply take the money and run.
You are a tough customer.
I am not giving up on you just yet.
  • Wow a persistent con artist!

Hello [I used his first name, let’s say “con” for Con Artist],
So, I’d feel bad about just taking the money. I kind of have a deal, where I have to somehow earn what I get. Maybe it’s a superstition. I can take a retainer, but not a handout.
I could answer one question. Ask me a question which may have a useful answer, or at least entertaining answer, and I’ll try and answer it. After I felt I’ve done something for you, then I can consider what you’re offering me with a clearer head.
Regards,
Vasco

12:16 PM
[con artist] is now a connection

[con artist] sent the following message at 4:57 PM
View [con]’s profile [Con Artist]

him:
I understand.
I don’t have any customers in the United Kingdom.
You could use your bank account statements (After I generate the money for you in the stock markets) to convince another individual twice as wealthy as you to become a client.
Let’s say you have $100,000 saved in your bank account and I somehow turn this money into $200,000 within three or four years.
If you show your bank statements to a family member, coworker, or friend it is likely they will be interested in investing in Wall Street.
All you need to do is convince another individual with at least $200,000 to join me.
Also, you could convince two people as wealthy as you. Two with the same money you have or two with $100,000 each.
I charge them the usual fee.
Like all regular business, as one of my salesmen (The only one in the United Kingdom) you would get a comission for the sale.
In this case, the comission will be you will get a 100% discount of my usual fee as long as the client or clients you find for me keep their accounts open and as long as they keep the cash invested in the hedge fund.
Example:
You have $100,000 in your brokerage account.
You find me a customer with $200,000 or two customers with $100,000 each or four customers with $50,000 each.
It does not matter how many customers, what matters is you increase the size of my fund to at least twice what you have invested with me or in this example you need to find me $200,000 in money from new customers.
Your comission will be you get my usual fee down to $0.00
I think this elegant solution solves our problem and you won’t get a handout.
You would work hard for me as a salesman in your spare time and you will get a finder’s fee for your services.
I hope this suits you.
While you consider this new job offer, please begin with the paperwork and open your brokerage account in the United States of America with Charles Schwab, E-Trade, Interactive Brokers, TD Ameritrade or any other brokerage firm of your choice.
You can also open a regular brokerage account with any brokerage firm in the United Kingdom but you need to make sure they will let you buy and sell short stocks in the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ.
Remember, you also need to transfer at least half your wages to the brokerage firm each time you get a paycheck which is like getting your salary cut in half.
That requires a huge sacrifice on your part and most people would not do it.
It is hardly a handout.
You are simply investing your cash in a wise way.
Just like opening a shoe store or a boutique.
Imagine you are investing all your cash in a financial company.
In fact, you could make the argument I am working for you.
I just run the shoe store or the boutique.
It’s yours.
Most employees get a salary.
In this case, you can think of me as an intern.
Open the account while you consider your options.
It’s going to take a few days to set up the account.
You can use that time to think about this.
I cannot make any money for you in the stock markets without a brokerage account.
IT IS A REQUIREMENT.

Wow, does this guy actually find anyone stupid enough to fall for his con tricks? He reminded me why I left LinkedIn.

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