Recently, a fellow blogger and tweep was exposed for pretending to be someone she was not. Unfortunately, as much as it pains me to say so, scammers like her are everywhere, and not just in the blogosphere.
"J" had a blog. Her blog was about her battle with Stage IV melanoma. I discovered J's blog one night when I noticed some others on Twitter expressing their utmost concern for J after they had heard she had collapsed during a bout of chemotherapy. From memory, her last tweet had shown a picture of her orange chemo bag, with J making the comment that this was her version of "orange juice" for breakfast. Apparently, after that, she collapsed - it was thought likely she may die - and soon after she fell in to a coma.
That day, I started following her on Twitter, waiting for good news. I prayed for her. I prayed for her friends on Twitter, who were obviously so devastated by these events. No doubt, many like me, discovered her blog and started to read about her "brave" battle with this disease.
Miraculously, J recovered. I recall her first few hesitant tweets that were made after coming out of "the coma". It seemed obvious to me that she was unable to process information from her brain to her keyboard. It was early days. And then I was amazed when within a week or so, her tweets seemed back to normal.
I tweeted with her a couple of times, but I wouldn't say I knew her like some of her other followers. Not at all. I didn't frequent her blog. Rather I checked it a couple of times, and one of those times was when I found out that, after she had been told that the cancer was (once again, miraculously) gone - she had found out she could not have children. She was, understandably, devastated. And many of us left comments of encouragement and support on her blog in response.
Weeks later, the cancer had, shockingly, returned. A distant alarm bell rang in my head. How could the doctors have gotten it so wrong? And yet, I assumed it just another twist to J's story.
However, there was an even bigger twist still to come.
You see, fairly recently, some other bloggers and tweeps discovered after some investigation that J was, in fact, a complete and utter scammer. From what I have read, all of it - and I mean ALL of it - was a complete and utter lie. I found this out by reading Sass' post here and here. Bern's post here. Taryn's post here and Thea's post here. If you want the full story, check them all out. Suffice to say, J's blogs are no longer accessible. I presume her Twitter account has gone (I couldn't find her on my list of followers).
It seems that perhaps J did this for money. She may have also done this for attention. Perhaps she did this because she is unwell - just not with cancer. Whatever the reason, the truth is that that there are scammers on the Internet. That is for certain.
But for all those readers who have avoided Twitter because of this very possibility, before you say, "I told you so" please consider this.
Scammers like this aren't just on the Internet.
I wrote about a girl I worked with once, my "friend", who stole money from me. Another guy I worked with (at the same place) was leading a sort of double life. He pretended to be wealthy and connected. He wasn't. He used his business card all around the local area as an "I'll pay later" promise. He didn't. He waited until people trusted him, and then he used them. In my next job, the Property Manager I worked with basically stole money from the company. It's a complicated story - it wasn't money she pocketed for herself, but used to make herself look good in her position. She was found out, and forced to resign.
Yep - scammers don't just exist online. They are everywhere.
What I'm trying to say is...whilst J is, and should be, a precautionary tale for us all - please don't lose faith in those you meet online. There are many more good people out there in the blogosphere and Twittlerland than there are really bad people. I'm certain of it. I'm not saying you shouldn't be cautious. I'm not saying you won't ever come across someone who attempts something similar to what J did (unfortunately); nor am I saying you should just trust everyone you 'meet'. It's all about listening to your gut instinct, and not giving up on the idea that essentially, most people are good.
If we can't believe that, then what kind of world are we living in?