In December of last year, I (a sophomore in college) decided to open up a LinkedIn account and get the ball rolling on networking. I go to a not-target school and realized (thanks to WSO and M&I) that networking was one of the best ways I could break into investment banking. So one night I sat down and sent out connection requests to a shit ton of people (in hindsight, at that time I had no clue what networking really was, to me it constituted of just sending out mass requests on LinkedIn to people who DID NOT even work in the industry......maybe I deserved what was coming) and went to bed all satisfied with myself for all the networking I did.....
The next morning I get a message from someone -Lets call him X- I sent out a request to saying "Did you get the message I sent you?"
Curious, I wrote back saying that I didn't get any message and told him that he might have me confused with someone else. X writes back saying that he is working with a lot of students from my school on a social media project and would like me to join (I should mention that his LinkedIn page says he went to my school and did his post grad from Harvard, TIP: For those new to LinkedIn, not everyone is who they say they are so proceed with caution). I was very excited to hear this as I only did one internship before and that was not in the United States. This would be a great addition to my resume.
So we message back and forth a few more times to get to know each other a bit better. X asked me what I was studying and what I wanted to do and I told him that I had an interest in banking. To my surprise he said that he worked in real estate investment banking (RED FLAG 1- his profile had no mention of investment banking and bankers don't contact random students). I asked him what his work is like and what project he was working on. He was reluctant to answer any questions saying he rather not discuss these matters over the internet (this should have been RED FLAG 2) and he would like me to speak to his associate and set up a meeting time to discuss about the project. I gave X my number and waited for his associate - Lets call him Y- to call, and the next day he did.
Now, Y had to be a scam artist in training (in my opinion) because he was not very good at his job, unlike X who was more convincing and consistent (although in retrospect, he wasn't that great either). Y and I spoke twice before our meeting. On the first call he said he was a senior at my school and was about to graduate. He was also in the same major I was and worked in real estate investment banking. He asked me if I would go to a presentation that X was doing for their investors about the project citing that, , and Goldman would be there (I kid you not....and also RED FLAG 3). Although I was intrigued, I told him I would let him know because I had plans that night (I didn't but it was at 8:30 PM somewhere in Brooklyn and I was a bit suspicious that they would have business presentations that late on a Sunday). I later messaged him that I would not make it, expecting fully to get no further responses from him. He called me 30 minutes later asking if he could come to my place at a time when I'm free (I said no) or maybe meet at the university. And so finally, after a few more messages we agreed to meet near my school's library the following day.
I want to say that at this point I was pretty skeptical about their legitimacy ( I had received multiple messages from both X and Y about how great their plan was and how I could make a lot of money -RED FLAG 4- in-between all this) but I still wanted to hear him out, partly because I hoped it was a real project and maybe I could get some good experience out of it, although I was pretty sure it was a scam at that point.
I want to save my meeting with Y (where he pitches me their "grad" idea, what they wanted me to do, what I could expect out of the job and how I proceeded to mess with them) for part 2 of the article.
My question for you guys is, have you ever had any similar experiences and how did you deal with it? Has anyone tried to scam you and lave you ever fallen for it? Have you ever scammed anyone? Let me know in the comments below, these stories are always fascinating!
Check out my previous posts:
A Lesson In Bubble History (Part 1) - The Mississippi Bubble