Con Artists, Fakes + Imposters - How To Keep Yourself Safe
Do you know how to tell if someone is conning you? You might think you're a pretty good judge of character, but I bet you've let a couple of these fuckers into your life and your wallet. And today it will end.
I would've kept my mouth shut about this if I didn't see another con artist pop up today. I can't in good faith see these impostors pop up at an alarming rate and just let it slide.
However, I am not going to name these sad sacks of shit. They will know who they are in their heart of hearts and will hopefully slither back under the rock they came from.
These fuckers take money, attention and have no problem screwing people over.
Group #1: The Sparkly "Six-Figure" Designer
It could be a person in your industry who is portraying themselves to be this big baller of a designer. Getting accolades and slithering their slimy ass into the seat next to you at that conference. They want to be fast friends with you and will help you reach your goals.
You scratch their back, they will scratch your back. Or take your ass down with them on the Titanic.
Which is more like it because there is a lot of these design "professionals" who portray themselves to be big deals but then you find out they barely make a profit, have a large amount of debt and those photos on their websites? Stolen.
You don't need to hang out or admire that ish.
Group #2: The Sparkly "Six-Figure" Design Business Coach
On the other side of the coin, you have to be on the lookout for the frauds who are a design business coach proclaiming to help you grow your business. Except there's that pesky little problem that they have no street cred, no testimonials, no digital history and hung up a new shingle for this brand new business.
A lot of these design business coaches suck balls. I've fallen victim to some of the older ones and my clients have fallen prey to the newer ones.
It's always the same story. You lose a lot of money paying this "expert" for a result and getting a sack of shit in return.
One of the ways I like to check out these pricks is by going on the Wayback Machine. You can see what their website looked like back in the day. Their domain names may have changed over the years like mine has, but with a little digging on LinkedIn, you can figure out what they have been up to.
Unfortunately, that doesn't always work...
The Con Artist's Newest Tactic
This new trend is to change their name. I'm not talking about their business name. I'm talking about their first and last name.
They set up a new profile, a new website, a new social media profile and POOF! Here they are all brand new, shiny and perfect. Making it pretty hard to track down who they are unless you want to do a reverse Google image search on their face or you knew who they were before the new persona showed up.
Now, you'll only see what they want you to see. They don't want to mention their past unless they feel like it presents them in the best light. If they share something of their past life, their connection to that success story is tenuous.
Side note: People are allowed to change their business and their course in life. That's the freedom we all have. I was an interior designer who did transition into a design business coach. It was something that I naturally transitioned into. However, you're not allowed to change your identity and become a brand new person on the scene to mislead people.
When I was running my design business, I had a lot of designers asking me what I was doing in terms of marketing online and I started sharing with them what I was doing because back then no one wanted to help me.
For years I had been designing websites, graphics, using all sorts of technology to refine my process. I put in the work to discover the things that worked and didn't work.
I didn't just regurgitate something I heard from another person without making sure it worked just to start a coaching business.
So if you're the corporate refugee who has decided that you need to leave the land of cubicles and start a design business, please do. There's no shame in that game. It gets shady when people get into a business or four, can't make any of them work and figure the only way to success is to become a shitty knock-off of someone else.
I get so pissy about this for us because I see people falling over themselves to align themselves with con artists.
How To Tell If Someone Is Conning You
Tip #1: Transparency
If you've just started your business or have been in business for a while, be transparent. Tells us what you did before. All of your life experiences brought you to this point and what you learned in your past business life applies to what you do today.
Take the lead by being transparent about your business, your success, your portfolio, your story. If you don't have actual work to show, create some designs to share to show what you can do.
Share it all even if you're a beginner or you had a whole other career not related to design. There's no shame in owning who you were before you started your design business.
Con artists won't or can't show you their past because it will expose their fake ass.
Tip #2: Originality
There's nothing more annoying than seeing a shitpreneur blogging on the same tired topics with their regurgitated "knowledge". They aren't masters of their craft and haven't put in the work to be able to come up with new ideas. But you? You're in this to win it.
Sure, they may be hiring the cheap article writer to crank out blog posts quicker than a meth head, you've got articulate thoughts on your side. Not the regurgitated crap that we've read about a thousand times.
If you don't have the knowledge to speak on a topic, dive in and come up with your own conclusions. Then share what you know to be true, not the conclusion someone else came up with. This is how you'll stand out online.
Con artists copy others. Catch their ass with Copyscape.
Tip #3: The story matters
How did they build their business? How long have they been in business? Do they have testimonials from real people? Yes. I'm serious. I've seen people use dorky stock photos alongside a testimonial. As soon as you see the stock photo, you have to question if the testimonial is even legit.
Share your story of how you built your business, the failures you've had and why you're at this point now. If they aren't willing to share their past work that's how to tell if someone is conning you.
Wanna see my portfolio? Go ahead, look at it, and maybe cringe (because I do when I look at some of my past work). It's my body of work over years that I'm not hiding.
Tip #4: Do they get results
Your design client is buying a result in terms of a finished space. That means you can't be a dicko, take their money and not deliver. You won't do that, I'm sure, but you should be aware that there are designers who have done this before.
Recently, a designer has been exposed for ripping people off, but I'm not even sure they have been designing as much as doing a podcast recently about growing your 'million dollar design business'. I mean, if you can't do your own design business right, should you really be hosting a podcast where that's the focus?
And I'm completely sure those that were interviewed on that podcast had no idea that this designer was shady, but now they have to make sure that people know that they aren't shady, too.
Sick how this all ties together, huh?
If you're hiring a design business coach and they tell you that they will guarantee you will be making $10k/month without stating that YOU, the client, has to put in the hard work, run for the hills. It's like school. I can give you the knowledge, but I'm not taking the test for you.
When a client hires you to design, deliver the goods.
Tip #5: You hang out with trash and you start to smell like garbage.
Another way you can tell if someone is conning you is to see who they hang out with online. They don't realize that even though they thought they erased their digital trail that you can still sniff out their past or current intentions in online groups.
Take a minute and see what groups they are apart of and what they have posted. Also, do some research on the people they interact with online. I've even seen other con artists coming out of the shadows to align with these fucks. They have no integrity.
You can sniff out shadiness rather quickly and that's why I don't hang with trash.
Tip #6: Wait Them Out
The thing that you and I have over these con artists is that they are wet behind the ears. They don't really know what their business is about or how they are going to make money from it. They are just throwing shit at the wall to see if it sticks or copying part of a strategy they someone else do. And they don't have the patience to see it through.
But you're smart enough to know you need to have your shit together and you know how much work it's really going to take. They're looking for the quick buck and will be out of business shortly because they're banking on a trend of being the next "it" person in the field.
For us, people with integrity, talent, and determination these con artists will come and go. I've seen enough of them, designers and design business coaches, in the past 8 years and only a handful are still around. Know why? It takes work to get success.
If you've got the grit to take your design business to the next level, I can show you how to do it. And I've got the street cred, too.
Meet: The Society.