Now, I want to set some expectations here. When I say “catfishing,” we’re not talking about a story where our intrepid employee logs onto to Tinder and extorts their boss for cash.
This certainly involves false identities online, but it involves running a whole other level of scam on shitty bosses that could have avoided a lot of pain if they’d just paid what they said they would pay:
I used to work for a married couple, Billy (M52) and Gigi (F44), who owned a business services/public relations agency. It lasted more or less for a year. They seemed nice and humble but in reality, they were shady and untruthful. The company began to falter because of poor management and zero intention to prioritize. Billy was your baby faced next-door neighbor type. He looked about ten years younger and had a “kind” smile. He was soft-spoken and had an artistic and creative flair to him.
Gigi looked matronly with a Mother Earth incarnate attitude towards her children. She prided herself on “being ruthless” when it came to giving her family only the best. She could be really nice when she wanted to, but I found out early on that she was 100% apt at gossip and being two-faced.
The company’s constant changes were a red flag. They went from Business Services + PR Agency to IT provider, to a business incubator, to “indie beer partners”. What I’m trying to say is that they tried to dip their donut on everyone’s coffee, figurately.
Some of us had no real way to escape. The lady working next to me was already 67 years old and scared that no one would hire her. I wasn’t in a great place either. We were 8 employees in total. They wouldn’t lay anyone off because they believed that the employee should quit.
They paid us only a portion of our salaries ( incomplete weekly payments). Employees would run for the hills once they found a better job. Some of us were stuck. It was horrible. Then, they would pay the normal rate for a month and then do it again. They never cut down on their luxury expenses, so the wife would post her shopping sprees or arrive in a new car like it was nothing. Zero empathy. Very insensitive.
Billy lined his office walls with posters of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. His wife, the Chief Enabling Officer, put up signs on each room. The main employee area was “the machine room”, Billy’s office was “the chamber”, the conference room was “a meeting of the minds”.
Every time an employee disagreed with Billy during a brainstorming session, Gigi would call them aside and tell them that “Billy is your boss. You need to know that he is brilliant and a genius. I want him to have that taste of success”. I experienced that first hand. I also hated brainstorming because that was never on my job description. They just wanted to pick everyone’s brains.
In the meantime, we had to see the Pandora jewelry, the expensive makeovers for their daughters, and the “weekend at the spa” updates on FB. Gigi’s captions were usually about rewarding herself after a “hard week” or “because she deserved it”. Oh! And I’d like to mention that they bought into the “social guru” phrases about “emotional direction”. So if an employee ever got angry, Gigi would tell you “remember the one who gets angry is the one who ends up losing”.
For anyone who’s been in this situation, you may understand how painful it can be. You cannot leave the job because you have no other job waiting for you, and pathetic as it may sound to some, “some income” is better than no income at all. This is an involuntary compromise and it’s abusive. Why were we expected to pay for their luxuries via incomplete wages?
My best friend’s ex is into coding and programming and he agreed to help. If it didn’t work out, at least we would have something to laugh about. We created a kick-ass fake website with a matching LinkedIn and the whole nine yards. To make a long story short, this was supposed to be an investment company and my friend would be very casual. Nothing too eager.
He started by liking my employer’s FB page. Then comment. Before we knew, my boss took the bait and was engaging. They exchanged emails and he was eager to share all his “projects and ambitious shit”. On the other side, the investor sent him a list of requirements, like proof of concept, employer payroll, EIN #, etc. the investor “agreed” to work them if they could prove they were legit and up to date. No bank account of confidential info was asked.
Within three weeks, I was paid the equivalent to the 2 months and a half I was owed. The investor did an about-face and never contacted him again. I left the job as soon as I could. My friend who remained until she got paid told me our boss seemed “off” and a bit down after he announced “big things are coming” but it all seemed to deflate. I never disclosed what was really going on.
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