Important things you really need to know not to get taken by the poetry scam: Internet ScamBusters #214
Today’s issue focuses on a big — but little-known — scam you should definitely know about: the poetry scam. Whether or not you write poetry, this scam is becoming so popular that we recommend you learn about it so you can warn your friends and family. This issue is called “Poetry Scam Alert: A Little-Known Scam About Bogus Poetry Contests.”
Poetry Scam Alert: A Little-Known Scam About Bogus Poetry Contests
Poetry scam contests rake in millions of dollars every year. They do so by promising fame and fortune and then charging ‘contest winners’ a fee to see their work in print. What is worse, everybody is a winner. In this issue, we address how these poetry scams operate, how you can recognize a scam, and what you can do to stop them.
Aspiring poets beware!
Poetry scam contests are taking money from hard working writers around the world.
Although writing contests can be a viable way to attract the attention of agents and editors, they can also be scams. One very common ploy that attracts thousands of people every year is the poetry scam.
How poetry scam contests work
The perpetrators of these common poetry scams often seem legitimate. You can find their advertisements in popular magazines and writing magazines. You will find them posted on websites. Additionally, you can find contest announcements posted in the major newspapers all across the country.
We’ve even received these poetry scam contest announcements in our mailbox. Most recently, millions have received poetry scam emails.
The advertisements or poetry scam contest announcements offer large financial rewards and promises of publication. They are even known to offer contestants a freebie if they enter a poem. Many have minor requirements, including a maximum poem length of 20 lines. Additionally, unlike some contests, there is often no fee to enter.
Contestants simply create their poem and drop it in the mail.
Now comes the “good” news, and the meat of the poetry scam:
“Congratulations! You’ve become a semi-finalist,” your letter says. Pride fills your soul. The letter goes on. “We wish to publish your poem in an anthology.” You’re going to be published! Now your heart is pounding with excitement.
Until you read this next line…
“To have a copy of this anthology, please send $49.95 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. For an additional $20 we can add your biography to your poem.”
The poetry scam list of offerings continues. You can have your poem mounted on a plaque. You can purchase cassette tapes where a professional reader has recorded your poem. You can even join an association of poets — for a fee.
The poetry scam may even go so far as to state that you have been nominated for the ‘Poet of the Year’. With this nomination, you are invited to attend an award ceremony for the price of $475 plus travel expenses.
And this is how the scammers make their money. Each contestant receives the same ‘semi-finalist’ letter.
As unsuspecting winners proudly purchase their book of poetry, the cassettes, their plaque, and more, the scammers rake in the money.
In fact, some experts estimate that these poetry scam companies make almost 10 million dollars a year!
Poetry Scams: What you can do
Publishing a written work or poem is a goal that many aspire to. Don’t let poetry scams squash your dreams.
If you aspire to see your poetry published, contribute your poems to legitimate magazines and literary publications. Once you have a collection of published poems, you can put together your own book and submit it to editors for publication.
Legitimate writing and poetry contests are both available and plentiful. If you decide to participate in poetry contests, investigate the organization before you enter. These poetry scam companies operate under a variety of legitimate sounding names. Research each and every organization before you enter a contest.
Search the Internet for warnings about the company holding the contest. Visit our Scambusters.org site to search our articles (although we don’t name specific organizations or people as scams — we focus on education so our subscribers understand what kinds of scams to watch out for). Lastly, know that there is no reason that a contest should ask you for money for anything after you have entered.
Many legitimate contests do request a small entrance fee to cover administration and financial prizes, however they NEVER request a fee to publish or purchase anything upon winning the contest. Legitimate contests willingly post their guidelines, prizes, judges and contest rules.
If you have been a victim of a poetry scam, you can report it at the Federal Trade Commission website.
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Time to wrap up for today — have a great week!