Holy moly it’s been a tough month.
I mean seriously.
I moved my hosting to a new hosting company – who shall remain nameless because right now they suck.
I’m publishing my new book and it’s taking EONS to get it through all the various stages.
I’ve been sick as a giss.
And it’s launch week for my SEO course, which no matter how much meditation, green tea and GIN I employ is still stressful as all hell.
And then this happened.
One of my lovely followers Liz received an email from me.
Nothing unusual there, I’ve sent heaps of emails in the last few months.
But this one was a bit different.
Yes, the spelling was worse than usual.
Also I moved from referencing myself in the singular to the plural pretty quickly, but my multiple personalities do sometimes get the best of me.
Also I used a ‘Z’ rather than an ‘S’ in optimisation. Bleurgh.
But other than that – it’s fairly normal right?
If you’d rather not read from the image here’s what it said:
Hello LIZ VAN VLIET,
I found your web contact email. I would like to discuss a business.
I am Kate, Online Marketing Consultant,
We are a leading SEO Company offers dedicated search engine optimization (SEO) and Web design services to help you score over your competition.
We have a team of 100+ highly qualified professionals who are certified in SEO & Google Ad words and standards providing a wide range of services in order to generate higher visitor traffic to your website. This ensures that your website gets higher rankings on the search engine pages.
We offer following Services:
(1) Full SEO Package (with plan and activities)
(2) SMO(Face book,Twitter, Linked In,You Tube and My Space marketing, etc)
(3) Website Designing Services.
(4) Website Development Services
(5) Website Re-Designing Services
(6) CMS – Content Management System
(7) IPhone and Android applications
(8) PPC / SEM Services
May I know if you are interested in any of these services? then we can send you more detail about package/action with special Offer.
I look forward to your positive mail.
Online Marketing Consultant
Note: we are not spammers and are against spamming of any kind. If you are not interested .then you can reply with a simple \”no\”,we will never contact you again.
(That last bit made me smile, cos no one likes a spammer, right?)
The truth about this email
Now, I WISH I had a team of 100+ minions (not really that would be hell.)
And, I’ll admit that I do like to ‘discuss a business’.
And yes, that’s my image and the email address firstname.lastname@example.org – could be confused for my email.
But the email was not from me.
So I was kind of pissed.
Because I have no idea how many 1000s of people received that mail and thought:
- “Wow Kate’s having a bad day.”
- “Lorks Kate is getting really desperate for SEO work.”
- “This email makes me want to hurl. I’m unsubscribing from EVERYTHING she does.”
So I decided to seek a gentle revenge of sorts.
I asked my good buddy Sharon Chisholm to email my doppelganger and arrange a Skype call.
We connected – and it turned out that ‘Kate’ was also known as ‘Anoop’ and that this other Kate Toon worked at an Indian SEO company.
And we had a lovely chat. I’d love to play all of it here on the blog but don’t want to get into any legal strife, so instead you can read the full transcript at the end of the post.
I wanted to share a bit so you can hear how TERRIFYING I sound when I’m angry. But you’ll have to use your imagination.
Don’t mess with the Toon.
My favourite bits
The bit where I say “I wanted to actually talk to Kate Toon, I’m a big fan, I’ve been following her on FB for a long time.”
It’s true, I’m my biggest fan.
The way that he keeps calling me Sarah.
And I keep having to say – I’m Kate Toon – I’ll admit by about half way through I was confused as to whether I was actually Kate Toon.
It reminded me of this scene from Spartacus.
The bit where I almost think he’s going to get other me and then it’s just an awkward pause.
The bit at the end where he still tried to sell me SEO – we could all learn something from that kind of determination.
Should I have shared this?
Now honestly, I debated publishing this as I was worried I sounded like a bit of a cow.
I felt a bit sorry for Anoop at the end.
Especially that nervous laugh.
Perhaps it was, as Anoop said, a coincidence.
Perhaps there is another Kate Toon out there in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
Perhaps using a gmail account rather than their regular email address was just how they roll.
Perhaps they found that cartoon me, though it was cute and thought what the heck.
(It is seriously cute, way cuter than I am in person).
But I think possibly, just possibly that might be a big old pile of bull poo.
I tried to put my best teacher voice on and stay calm but I fumbled my words a few times.
I may have opened a huge can of worms, but I felt that Anoop was a little contrite at the end, did you?
So why am I sharing it?
I want this to be a cautionary tale for you guys.
Always check your facts.
And never blindly believe that an email is from who you think it is.
Over to you
Have you received this email – please say ‘no’! Or have you ever received an SEO spam email? Let me know if the comments below.
Want to have a chat?
If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please contact me.
Anoop: Hello. Hi Michelle. (I let it slide)
Me: Hi, so we received an email from Kate Toon about some SEO.
Me: It is possible to talk to Kate?
Anoop: Yes. You can talk.
Me: Can I speak to Kate now, or?
Anoop: Yes. Yes.
<Big awkward pause>
Me: Yes I want to talk to Kate Toon I’m a big fan I’ve been following her on Facebook for a long time, can I speak to her.
<Big awkward pause>
Me: Sorry the email was from Kate Toon yes? I wondered if I could speak to Kate Toon.
<Big awkward pause>
Me: Can you hear me?
Anoop: Yes. I got your message, we need to discuss the SEO for your site and the packages for your website. The economic packages.
Me: Yes, but the email you sent me came from Kate Toon.
Anoop: Let me check.
Me: Can I speak to her, is she in?
Anoop: Yes she’s my team member.
Me: Can I speak to her?
Anoop: You can tell me I’m the main person.
Me: Oh, okay, but can I check it is THE Kate Toon. The one from Facebook. The SEO one.
Me: It’s the same person?
Anoop: Yes it’s the same person.
Me: So she works in India, I though she was based in Australia? She’s quite a well known SEO person here in Australia, but she works with you in India.
Anoop: Yes, Yes. She’s my team member.
Me: Well that’s kind of funny you know why?
Me: Because I am Kate Toon. (Cue duh duh duuuuurr music)
Me: And you’ve been sending emails pretending to be me. Which is illegal.
Anoop: Nervous laugh.
Me: You’ve stolen my image and you’re emailing people pretending to be me. Why are you doing that?
Anoop: No your name is Sarah.
Me: My name is Kate Toon. I got an email from someone who received your email and contacted me and said ‘why is someone using your image and name and pretending to be you.” That’s illegal you know that don’t you?
Anoop: Your name is Sarah.
Me: No my name is Kate Toon. Sarah is the friend who send me the email (her name was Liz but I couldn’t be bothered to argue at this stage).
Anoop: No no.
Me: Why are you using my picture on your emails?
Anoop: No no. There is no picture.
Me: Yes there is! Let me send you a photo so you can see. <Sends image via Skype>
Anoop: No she’s my team member.
Me: She just happens to have the same photograph as me?
Anoop: No no.
Me: I think it would be really nice if you were just honest and admitted that you’re hijacking my name and image to sell your SEO Services. That’s what you’re doing isn’t it?
Anoop: Let me check the mail please. Yes. Mumbles. Clicking. Hmmmm. Yes the email is Katetoon01.gmail.com. That’s my team member.
Me: So you’re telling me in India, there is actually someone in your team who happens to be called Kate Toon and just happens to have the same image as me. That’s a bit coincidence isn’t it?
Anoop: Yes it’s a very big coincidence only.
Me: Really ? I don’t think it is, I think you’re lying. And I think you’re going to get in some big trouble, cos you can’t do that, you can use peoples, names and images and use them to sell your SEO. It’s illegal.
I’ve reported you to Gmail and I’ve reported you to the Indian Identity theft department. (I haven’t. I’m not sure one exists but it sounded good at the time.) I’ve given them your address.
I’ve given them your phone number. And they’re going to be in touch.
Me: You need to stop using the email address and the picture. You see the cartoon in the corner with the brown hair and the googly eyes. That’s me. That’s me!
Anoop: But I sent the email to Sarah.
Me: Exasperated. IT doesn’t matter who you sent it to. It’s the fact that you’re suing my image and my name to sell your SEO services.
Anoop: Just a second please.
Anoop: But we didn’t stolen anything.
Me: So where did you get that image from.
Anoop: I don’t know how that is coming.
Me: You see this web address. <Types www.katetoon.com> that’s me.
You see this one <Types www.katetooncopywriter.com.au> that’s also me.
And this one? <Types www.therecipeforseosuccess.com> that’s me.
And if you’re telling me that you just happened to have someone in India in your team with the name Kate Toon, which is one of the rarest names I’ve ever come across. And they happen to have the exact same cartoon image for their site. I think you’re lying.
Me: Anyway, you’re obviously not going to admit it, which is a bit of a shame. But as I said I’ve reported you to gmail. I’d advice you to stop using that gmail address and stop using my illustration.
You still there Anoop?
Anoop: Yes it’s not stolen. It’s only coincidence.
Me: Well can I ask then respectfully if it is an accident could you stop using it.
Anoop: Sure sure sure.
Me: Because your company is a proper SEO agency isn’t it (I kind of didn’t mean this). And this isn’t a good look to do this?
Anoop: Yes sorry about this, it’s only an incidence but now I know it belongs to you I’ll never use it.
Me: Thank you for that Anoop I appreciate that. I’ll keep an eye on it though. And you may hear from Google, so you’ll just have to explain. And if I do see you using it I’ll take legal action, because that’s my name and reputation.
Me: Okay thank you Anoop.
Anoop: So can we talk about that?
Me: Talk about what?
Me: Anoop!. I don’t want to use your SEO services. I am an SEO consultant that’s what I do for a living. I arrange this call to find out why you were using my name and my image.
Sarah/Sharon is my friend who helped me out arranging this call so you would get it touch with me. So we’ve had the call. I’ve recorded it. You’ve admitted your mistake and if I see you using my name or my illustration again I’ll take legal action. Okay?
Anoop: Okay. <Nervous laughs>
Me: It’s not really that funny to me Anoop. It’s not funny at all.
Anoop: No no.
Me: So stop using it. Okay? Have a lovely day.