I’ve recently been subscribed to the development and discussion mailing lists for Googles Android platform due to working on AndAppStore.com and recently an email posting caught my eye because it reminded me of a scam that I thought had long since passed.
The scam works like this; A person or company comes along and says “Hey, you’re really talented, I’d love to sign you up so I can offer you some great projects to work on, and, of course, and you’ll get a share of the profits”, which is indeed a good offer. Then the sting comes; the person offering you the work adds “If you pay me some money up front to cover the starting costs we can get everything underway”, and that’s where you should walk away.
Absolutely anyone who believes you are talented should be looking long term. They should expect that the percentage they take from invoices to customers for your skills will cover any startup costs, any overheads, and, after all that, leave them some profit (nobody finds you work for free you know :)). Anyone who says that they want money up-front from you either doesn’t believe you are talented enough to cover the basic costs, or is just looking for a quick way to get some cash out of you.
It’s a scam that has been going for years in the showbiz and modelling worlds and is seen as such a poor business model that in the U.S. there are laws and regulations which stop modelling agencies charging up-front fees (see http://www.modelingscams.org/upfrontfees.html for more information about the modelling issue).
In this case, after a little bit of conversation, it turns out that the person trying to do this doesn’t want to reveal information about himself because it’s something he’s doing on the side and it may threaten his day job, he’s already started and left four previous businesses, and he wants people to take on the legal and financial responsibilities of being a part-owner of a US LLC, and for all this all he wants is 200 US Dollars from people.
So please, if someone approaches you saying that you have any form of talent and for a modest fee they will help you make money from it, walk away, because they obviously don’t have the confidence in you to believe you will earn enough money to even cover their costs.