Friday, May 02, 2014

Really? Who trys to scam a small non-profit with the offer of fake PSAs anyway?

Now I understand that scam artists are unethical by nature, but every once in a while....they still manage to surprise you with what they do.  For example, today in the office we get a call from a gentleman who wants to put up a PSA advertising the sexual violence hotline on two local radio stations in Utah over the Memorial Day weekend.

Its an odd cold call to get, but we do get members of the community that will call the office truly wanting to help out.  So I listen to what he has to say.

Keep in mind.....we do training specifically in my office that teaches individuals about honoring your gut feelings and of specific red flags to look for in predators.

So, he begins by telling me that this is an issue close to his heart as he once dated a woman who was abused, etc.  Typically, someone giving you more information than what is necessary to the conversation is a red confuses the primary issue and more often than not, it is used to lower your guard and create sympathy.  It's an excellent tool.  You can't do that to an advocate though.....our training makes our brains switch and we aren't feeling sympathetic....rather we are trying to figure out if you need services. attempt to tug at the heartstrings of an advocate turns them into a customer service rep.

I listen to his story....not reacting, but just letting him talk....because an advocate is supposed to be a non-biased active listener.  I'm sure at this point, he's thinking that I'm hooked.
He then reads me the PSA he has written and wants to put on the air.  Its highly impersonal, persuasive- but in a slightly condescending and completely detached from the issue type of way.  It mentions a hotline number multiple times and directs people to donate.  It needs alot of work, but the spirit is there.

Still in advocate mode, I start to tell him that he needs to have a different number.  As I'm starting to give him the correct information, he interrupts me and begins to list a bunch of figures for the air time.

Cause really?  Who calls a non-profit offering a PSA and then 5+ minutes into the call turns it into a sales pitch?

This guy apparently.

Incidentally this bait and switch thing is also a red-flag for a predator.

I wanted to hang up on him, but I didn' of us needs to be professional, right?

I tell him that for a large campaign such as this that I need to have board approval and ask if can please email me the figures. 

Guess what?  He doesn't have an email.  A "salesman" in 2014.

He then explains that he is actually a "volunteer", who also happens to have the authority to offer free days of advertising.  When I ask him to tell me the costs again so I can write them down, he prefaces the list (which was different than his first list by the way) by telling me that he's written over a thousand sermons and that he really wanted to marry the abused woman but it wouldn't have worked and so on and so forth.

I wrote down his cell number and told him we would be in touch.
A short internet search later there is a bunch of forum posts confirming just how shady I think this guy is.

He can take his sermons somewhere else.  

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