Everyone has faced a troll or two online, it happens to the best of us. Of course Copywriter Today is no exception to this rule.
Since I founded Copywriter Today in early 2014, there have been two times where dishonest people have tried to abuse our team, our writers, and our good name. It’s something that I will never stand for and today I want to share with you exactly how I recommend you deal with the scammers and people who try to defame your service. It doesn’t matter if you run a writing service, a brick and mortar business, or a review site, this could happen to anyone, so I want to share with you the best practices for dealing with this type of real world business issue.
1.0 The Russian “Hack”
The first time we had a group of Russian hackers sign up for 10 free trials and then order content, never pay for it, and cancel their accounts. I spotted this after seeing a batch of Russian based pre-paid visa cards. Due to that little attempted attack we first removed trials for prepaid cards, by charging them immediately, and ultimately just removed free trials completely. It’s a shame, but that’s what happens when you get defrauded. You are the one getting scammed by someone who has no intention of using your service.
I actually reached out to that “hacker” if you can even call him that. He wasn’t very good at hacking albeit, because he never stole any money from me, he just got a few free 400 word articles. I paid my writers, I stopped the nefarious behavior, and the scam ended there. It still stings a little when you want to think the best of everyone you meet, and you find out that there is one in a thousand (maybe) who wants to hurt you.
I reached that guy on Skype and started chatting with him. I asked him why he was trying to attack my company and he gave me some really ridiculous lines:
- “Capitalist America should pay for the wrongdoing they have perpetrated against the rest of the world”
- “You don’t deserve to have a company after the way the USA has treated Russia”
He went on an on about how awful America was. It was pretty ridiculous so I just ended the conversation and blocked him on Skype. I think that all small minded and ultimately poor people spend time on this type of behavior. You will NEVER find ultimate success by taking value from people.
The only way to find success and wealth is to create new value for the world around you. While it hurts for a minute when I realized that someone was trying to hurt me for no reason, that sting quickly subsides when I remember the over 500 business that we serve worldwide. Every single one of them gets outstanding content delivered to them every single day and we provide jobs for all of our writers here in the United States, plus we help those who own companies around the world and use our service.
You’ll never find success by being a bully. Right always wins in the end in my opinion, and in my long entrepreneurial career I’ve never seen cowards like that succeed.
1.2 How to Stop a “Hack” Like that
- If you are getting bot attacked, use something like IQ Country Blocking it’s free and very effective for WordPress sites. Block every country except the one you are serving or at least block known hacker countries.
- Institute policies that protect you from theft. You could easily require that you speak to each new customer on the phone, or have them provide some other form of identification. I understand that this can slow sales, but trust me, slowing sales is better than getting ripped off. You can never recover that money (at least it’s VERY hard to do so).
- Trust your gut. When something feels off, it probably is. Plagiarism, theft, and shady online practices are everywhere, but your subconscious can recognize them faster than you think. If it feels off, it may be. Keep digging until you find the real issue you suspect.
- Use a trusted merchant processor like Stripe.com. They have built in fraud detection services that can help you detect something fishy. In my experience with them they have blocked stolen cards, and they also provide a simple bit of information that can help you. They can show you if the card is a prepaid card. Prepaid cards may be a sign of a bad relationship. While we have many customers who do use prepaid cards, we have added extra security measures because of the hackers who tried to hurt us before.
- Unfortunately prepaid cards are the only thing that some clients of ours can get to sign up via credit card, so don’t just judge it by that alone. Use it as one of the factors you consider.
- Wait until funds clear your account before delivering any services. This can slow production, but if you reach out to the customer, they will understand if they are a good customer for your business.
1.3 What I Learned From This Scam That Was Attempted on Copywriter Today
I learned a lot of things, but the most important lesson I learned was to trust my gut. When I first suspected that someone had simply copied and pasted a credit card they had stolen, or provided some plagiarized personal information, I should have acted then. While they only ended up “stealing” about 6 articles thanks to my awesome manager Tawnia, I could have cut it off sooner. In the end I think I lost $100 total. That’s not too bad.
I also learned that it’s better to do your due diligence up front rather than just trust everyone. Now we check out each new customer before we get too far into the relationship. I use a few tools for this, but I will just share the easiest to use options here. I do basic research on every new client, so I can make sure they are not just copying and pasting content from some stolen personal records they found.
I always use these tools if I suspect anything is not adding up in my gut:
- Rapportive – you can see if someone has a real LinkedIn profile with this. If you install the Chrome Extension it will show up in Gmail for you when you hover over an email address.
- If you want to scope out their entire company, you can use something like Clearbit Connect. You can research email addresses with this tool.
- I also check the Whois records if they have a company domain. The easiest place to do this is at who.godaddy.com. If their registration is open you can actually see their registered address and phone number with this tool. If it’s privately registered, that doesn’t mean that they are conning you, it’s just one of the factors to consider when you are checking them on.
- Email. I know this is simple, but I always email new customers and ask them how they found us. I use an awesome tool called Streak to track my opens. If they open it and never respond, this is one factor to consider in the bigger picture.
Overall I just take a quick look at the customer profile information I have and I make sure they seem legitimate. 99.9% of the time they are, but a quick look always helps me gut check the situation. I LOVE every single one of our honest paying customers, so I rarely find issues, but I always do a quick check. It’s my job to protect my team of writers, my managers, and every single family that depends on our company to provide them a living.
2.0 The Copywriter Today Scammer
Earlier this year we had someone sign up for Copywriter Today. We were running a very discounted special for 60 days to generate some new customers and boost cashflow for a new campaign. The campaign was a huge success as we signed up over 100 new customers many of which are still with us today. This particular thief decided to sign up for an account and within a short time started calling my managers names and complaining about every single article that they received.
When I decided to start looking into this person I found their profile on Facebook and their profile picture was of their middle finger raised. That was all. Here in the United States we all know that means to F*ck off. That instantly showed me that this person didn’t really care about anyone else and really was just out to run a scam on everyone, including Copywriter Today. This coward claimed that our writers were copying and pasting content and used some fake screenshots from Copyscape, Grammarly, and some other services to try to harass my team. After I saw the name calling and incessant emails they sent, I decided to step in.
I let this person know that we were no longer a fit for them, and after some discussion, issued them a refund for the their initial payment to us. Apparently issuing a refund must have made them really mad (which makes no sense to me) because they decided to go into some Facebook groups and write some ridiculous posts about us. They also wrote a long horribly written blog post (which made me laugh) about how I ripped them off and never refunded them.
After that, because apparently they have nothing better to do with their time, they starting trolling the internet and added picture of my family and made up names for the people in the pictures. They claimed that one of the people in the pictures was one of my business partners from the other side of the country. It’s all pretty laughable, but I’m not really sure why someone who was refunded thought it would be professional or intelligent to post pictures of my family.
Anyway – long story short, I decided that I should write a response to the post. That’s why this horribly titled blog post was written. This person can barely read or write english, but they decided they should try to defame my service. They claim that we don’t hire writers based in the USA simply because they want to defame Copywriter Today and call it a scam. That’s a shame, because writing an article like this has almost zero effect on us. I have had two people from this individuals country ask me about the review, and in both cases they still signed up.
All this person has done (I refuse to name cowards because that gives them publicity, and you should follow the same approach), is hurt their own local economy by eliminating a resource that small businesses in their country could use. If that’s how you feel about your fellow countrymen, that’s fine with me, but it’s a shame you want to hurt your own country.
2.1 How to Stop a Scammer Like This
Everyone can be attacked by a sleazy person like this, so what do you do? It feels personal and at times you may want to lash out and respond hurtfully. Let me tell you, that will only incite more hatred. The following steps are the safest and best long term responses that you can use to deal with haters, trolls, and people who want to call your services a scam. It doesn’t matter if they call our Copywriter Today services a scam, or if they call your local shop a scam. These steps will protect you in the long run:
- Build and invincible referral engine. While I’m sad that someone has decided to personally try and hurt me, I’m glad I built a business that doesn’t need a single bit of SEO to succeed. What this little troll doesn’t understand is that 99% of my business comes directly from referral partners. You should do the same thing. Build a referral network so strong that you can operate without SEO. That’s what I’ve done and that means that I can outlast any Google update, and social media change, and any small attempts that scammers like this throw my way.
- Always pay for traffic. After years in the SEO industry I found that organic traffic always ranked better when I paid for some traffic too. I don’t think Google will outwardly admit that they like paying customers better than SEOs, but be honest, who do you pickup the phone for first? The person who is using your free tools, or the person who pays you a retainer every month? Of course you have to favor the person who pays you every month. That’s how we all make a living and feed our families. If you’re facing a little troll who’s trying to beat you up with a poor review, buy some paid traffic. It will help you now and in the long run.
- Write a Response. While 99% of by business comes direct from referral partners, I decided that I should write a response to this person who thinks that defaming me is a good business tactic. They don’t get an links or mentions from it, but in case someone searches for a ridiculously titled article “Copywriter Today Review – A True Name of Scam Writing Services” they will have the option to read and understand my side of the story. Responding to negative reviews is always a good idea. It shows you are a professional and are willing to face accusations no matter how ludicrous they are.
It’s never pretty having to deal with something like this, but it does happen, and you do have to deal with scams and hackers sometimes. It’s part of the digital world we live in, so I’d recommend that you prepare yourself and your company for this type of threat. The good news is that no matter what you face, there is always an option available, and always a response you can use effectively. I hope that you found this post useful, and of course, if you ever need anything from my team here at Copywriter Today just let us know. Our goal is to provide outstanding original content to all of our customers. We are confident that we can help you with whatever content marketing needs you may have.
Founder of Copywriter Today