Friday, May 23, 2008

Leslie Lomax: Scam Warning

This is the first time this has ever happened to me--but I guess it had to happen eventually. I'm posting this to warn other writers off working with Leslie Lomax, who owns an antiques company called Zelda Antiques. I contracted to work with her in March of this year on articles for a site on organic baby products, sending her a final invoice that month. She has not paid, nor has she responded to emails I have sent her.

My big mistake here was in not getting her address and phone number before starting the project. I've done dozens of one-off small-scale article projects like this without bothering, and it's probably surprising that this is the first time it's happened. So I pass the warning on to you: Don't work with anyone you don't have an address and phone number for.

If I knew where she lived, I could send letters of complaint to the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General's office in her state, at the very least. Now I've sent a letter of complaint to the Writers' Weekly Whispers and Warnings forum, and of course I'm publishing it here.

If you want to help out, post a link to this post on your own site. I'd like the word to get out to as many writers as possible not to work with this person.

I will continue to do Google searches for the articles I wrote for her; so far they have not come up online, but if they do, I'll know where she's located and proceed accordingly. She'll also be using my articles without copyright, since I have a clause in my contract stating copyright remains with me until project is paid for in full.

10 comments:

Graham Strong said...

Hi Jennifer,

Yes, it is bound to happen eventually. What you might try to do is track down her URL (if you have that) through whois.org. Everyone has to register a contact phone number when they register a domain. Not everyone puts their real one, mind you (especially the spammers) but you might get lucky here.

~Graham

Death By Children said...

Sorry you got burned!

Did you get the job from a freelance site? Often they work so that payments go through an escrow until both parties express satisfaction. Elance does that and Direct Freelance offers it as an option.

Thank you for writing this article and giving a warning. Thank you more, however, for standing up for your work with such public vigor.

My contracts always say 1/2 up front, 1/2 when it's done. I don't send the contract without their address and phones right there on the top line. They get rights after I get paid.

The contract also spells out exactly what each part of the job is worth. When I submit a newly completed portion. I submit a revised contract-copy too, with the completed portion listed and completed. They have to sign it and return.

Carrie said...

I did a very quick google search and found a Zelda's Antiques in Arizona (with address & phone number) as well as a Bert & Zelda's Antiques in Virginia (with address & phone number).... but I'm sure you've already contacted those folks to see if Ms. Lomax is there, as you are already googling for your content.

Very bold of you to do this - I hope you get paid. (And that any innocent Zelda Antique people don't get slammed by irate emails from freelancers!)

Irreverent Freelancer said...

Well, aren't we on the same page today! If your client has a Website, try doing a Network Solutions' WhoIs search on the domain name. The contact info for the owner should come up. And if you'd like me to join in an email bomb on your behalf, just let me know.

G Man said...

whoa Jennifer!

Thanks for the warning!

it's scary to think there's people like that out there.

you bust your butt and they don't wanna pay you!

hopefully it's all a big misunderstanding and she'll pay up.

but it really does suck tho'

Jennifer Williamson said...

Thanks for the support, everyone! I see a lot of helpful hints about whois, but unfortunately (she claimed( her website wasn't up when she contracted the work--and so far I haven't found a site I know is connected to her. So that's out. Although I did have a client suggest I try tracing her through her IP address, which I will be looking into.

@Graham: Thanks for the tip! As soon as I find my articles on her website, I will be tracing that URL.

@Children: Nope, this one came to me through my blog--otherwise I'd use Elance's dispute system, which I hear isnt' the best but it's gotta be better than PayPal's.

@Carrie: So far I've found a few Zelda's Antiques online as well, but none that I could find definitely connected to this person. It may be a fake name (it sounds like something out of Dr. Seuss for heaven's sake) but still, I'd hate to go after someone who had the misfortune to share a name with the wrong person.

@Kathy: I saw that mention of email bombs on your website. What's the link to that on Writers' Weekly? I'd like to look into it.

@GMan: Yep, it sure does suck.

Once again thanks for the support--I appreciate it, and hopefully others can at least learn from my mistakes.

Jesse Hines said...

Jennifer,

Thanks for doing this--not so much for the warning against the particular "client"--but, the principle of it.

One, you're giving your fellow writers a heads-up.

Two, you're serving notice to potential scammers that they'll be publicly outed.

I hope you can track the scammer down.

Irreverent Freelancer said...

Hi Jennifer, here's the link to Angela's entire recommended course of action, including email bombs: 10 WAYS TO MAKE DEADBEATS PAY UP...FAST!.

devonellington said...

Always, always, ALWAYS, ESPECIALLY for one-off jobs, have a contract or LOA with the complete contact information signed BEFORE you work.

ALWAYS.

Jennifer Williamson said...

@Jesse: Thanks. I've got the folks at Predators & Editors working on it now...if they find anything, I'll post on it.

@Kathy: Thanks SO much. This helps.

@Devon: Absolutely. I will be much more vigilant about this in the future--getting burned is no fun.