Scammers Are Running Riot On Medium

Caffeinated Thoughts
5 min readMay 6, 2024

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

A couple of months ago, I received a reply to a comment I had left on one of Bella De Paulo’s articles. The comment, which looked like it came from the author itself, asked me to contact her on a telegram account as she was looking for writers to join a “writers community”. I opened the profile page of the person who left the comment and realized that this wasn’t the author of the article who was replying to me but someone else. I still thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt and decided to contact her on Telegram anyway. May be she created a secondary account handled by someone else just to do this particular work?

No sooner had I contacted her, did I start smelling a rat in the operation somewhere. The telegram message promised me membership to a writers community where I would receive a “supportive environment for writers to hone their craft and connect with other writers”. They also promised weekly payouts for articles written through the writers community on topics provided by them. In fact I had received the exact same message

posted a screenshot of in his article, “I Intentionally Reached Out to Scammers on Medium.” here.

Firstly, for an established writer like Bella, the grammar and sentence structure of the message was way off. Secondly, why would she open a second account on Medium just to create a writers community when she could just do it from her main account? It just didn’t make any sense. Only then did it strike me that I was dealing with a scammer and not the real Bella De Paulo. I instantly ceased communicating with him/her on Telegram and went back to check their profile on Medium. It was a fake account of hers created with the same profile picture and name with one of the letters in the name capitalized, something that isn’t apparent to anyone not proactively looking out for such an anomaly. It just doesn’t stand out.

Well guess what?

I encountered the very same scammer again today, or presumably a bunch of them working together. But hey, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, right?

However, since I already knew to look for spelling mistakes, that’s exactly where my eye first went, meticulously scanning every alphabet in the name to sniff out a character change. To my utter shock and surprise, there was absolutely no change in the spelling of the scammers name. Not even an upper case character here or a lower case character there! They were literally operating with the very same name, “Charlie Brown” with absolutely no change in the spelling name of the impersonator account.

How on earth is this even possible?

From the time I had almost been scammed by a person impersonating Bella’s account a few months ago to today, they had somehow “progressed” in making their scammer profiles look authentic and believable as possible. Unless one possesses the foresight to open the users account to check whether they are the original author of the story, one could easily get tricked into falling for such a scam. Only when one further digs into this scam by opening their account, does one get to know that they’re conversing with not the real author of the article, but an impersonator pretending to be him or her.

In the case of Bella De Paulo, I foolishly believed that it was the author herself who was contacting me from a second spare account even though I knew it wasn’t her original one. The account also had just a single follower, unlike the real Bella, who has followers in the thousands.

Louis K speaks about this too in his article:

Good way to know this is by checking their followers/following number, which usually is only 1. You can compare it with the original writer’s profile while on story tab.”

Like I said in the beginning, I did take this particular action while interacting with Bella’s impersonator account, but stupidly convinced myself that it could be a secondary account of the author set up for the “writers community” purpose. As I later found out reading other articles about scammers on here, no self-respecting author will ever do this!

This is what the scammer account, with just one follower, will look like:

As you can see, the scammer “Charlie Brown” has just one follower indicating that it wasn’t the original ‘Charlie Brown’ who replied to my comment, but someone pretending to be her.

The real

has 35,000 followers:

The real ‘Charlie brown’

Thankfully, ever since all these scammers have started running riot on Medium,

has taken certain proactive measures like adding “author” tags next to profile names to know whether the person replying to you is indeed the author of the article you’re commenting on or someone pretending to be the author.

This was the first dead giveaway in this particular case:

No author tag next to impersonators name

This is what a reply from an original author would look like:

Reply from original author with author tag clearly visible

So one doesn’t even have to check for spelling mistakes or follower counts to ensure that they’re interacting with the author of an article. But it always pays to be cautious and alert to such things regardless of the presence of the author tag. Because who knows? Just like how they created Charlie Browns account using her exact name without changing a single alphabet, they might find a workaround to the author tag too.

It always pays to be attentive and observant towards such minute details regardless of the actions Medium takes to protect us. I’ve come across several other articles where writers have written about these scammers online, and along with all the reporting, Medium has decided to stand up and take notice.

Just simple a simple search ( https://medium.com/search?q=fake+accounts+on+medium ) reveals the sheer number of writers who’ve encountered fake accounts on here and have decided to talk about it. I hope Medium steps up their game to rid the platform of scammers so that it continues to be the safe credible space that readers and writers have come to love and cherish over the years and which, in the words of the scammers themselves, continues to be a “supportive environment for writers to hone their craft and connect with other writers”.

Ever encountered a scammer on Medium? Please share your experience in the comments bar to the side, or even better, write about it!

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Caffeinated Thoughts

No niche in particular. I am a keen observer of society and gain my inspiration for new articles from observation.