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Over the past year and a half I have gained quite a friendship with a person from another country. The reason we know each other is that I created a video online that gained a lot of attention. He helped this video gain the majority of that attention. This person has helped me grow my success online with a fan base that seems to be exponentially growing, but is too difficult to maintain while working a full-time job at the same time.

This person has offered to pay for me to go to the UK and pay for my accommodation, food, internet, everything, and give me a year to start making money from it on my own. I don't know much about it since it all came out of nowhere, but he's saying I can get famous and has never seen anyone grow like this. Saying I can make lots of money and wants to help me get there.

I want to know if anyone can think of any way it can be a scam if someone is paying for a flight, paying off all debts, paying my food and accommodation and living expenses. It just seems too good to be true. Like, the best deal anyone has ever gotten.

(I didn't know where to post this, so please redirect me to where it should go. Sorry)

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    Are you sure the attention is real, or could he have a bot network that is giving you all of the views automatically? – ajd Feb 7 '18 at 0:18
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    It is extremely rare for someone to offer to cover so many expenses without wanting something in return. Don't go into this without asking questions and seeing proof. I personally wouldn't go forward without some legal binding. You don't even know if he's using his real name. – doctordonna Feb 7 '18 at 0:34
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    @doctordonna is giving sound advice. You will have no recourse without a contract. By the sound of it, he is promising you a bunch of things, and he might come through, but if he doesn't, there's nothing you can do about it. The 'proof' you need is a contractual agreement detailing his and your roles and responsibilities, while stipulating a timeframe. – MastaBaba Feb 7 '18 at 0:40
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    This looks like the early stages of advance fee fraud to me. Your 'friend' persuades you to go to Britain, and everything looks good, until there's just the matter of the visa fee to pay, and then a problem with the airline ticket, send some money to cover local business registration which he can't pay because...reasons, on and on and on.... If it looks too good to be true it probably is. – user67901 Feb 7 '18 at 2:07
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    My guess, which I can not verify without knowing more about the OP, is sex trafficking will be how the debt incurred will be paid. – Andrew Lazarus Feb 7 '18 at 2:43
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"This doesn't really answer the question" but it is important enough to ensure it gets noticed! (If moderators disagree, they can "fix it.")

Sex trafficking and other forms of slavery are real and widespread. While it seems to me that no one would spend that much time and effort to get a victim, one never knows.

I recommend, without this person's knowledge, that you contact law enforcement in the area he claims to be in and/or wants to meet you in, and ask them whether they think it is legitimate.

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    +1. I see @WGroleau and I are equally cynical (referring to my comment on the question itself). – Andrew Lazarus Feb 7 '18 at 3:13
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    Also, here in USA, many illegal immigrants are controlled by an "employer" with the threat of reporting them to immigration. – WGroleau Feb 7 '18 at 4:43
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    What incentive does law enforcement have to say "yes" if they think it's probably legitimate? Wouldn't they just say "no" even if they have no idea what the scam might be, just to avoid a remote risk? (Put another way, would you really expect them to say "yes" if it's legitimate?) – Mehrdad Feb 7 '18 at 8:51
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    If they know it is a scam and they're already after him/her/it, they'll say so. If they don't know, they'll either say "we don't know but it's awfully suspicious" and start investigating, or they'll say "yes" and start investigating. Or (unlikely) it's legit and they know it and say so. Any other response and they are not doing their job. – WGroleau Feb 7 '18 at 9:24
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    Police knows scams much better than the average person and they are entitled to help people before they become victims of a crime. – Janka Feb 7 '18 at 10:39
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This person has offered to pay for me to go to the UK and pay for my accommodation, food, internet, everything, and give me a year to start making money from it on my own. I don't know much about it since it all came out of nowhere, but he's saying I can get famous and has never seen anyone grow like this. Saying I can make lots of money and wants to help me get there.

Even if you assume for a minute that this person has no ill intentions it is blatantly obvious that this person wants you to move for his gain, most obviously financial.

Always Remember: if you're getting it for free, you are not the customer you're the product.

And you actually are the product that he is willing to sell even in the best possible case. Since you do have talent and your creations can become famous, start learning how you can continue to grow your fan base yourself. The same YouTube that made you famous will have tons of videos to help you with that.

Meta

I like the other answer but I think the suggestion it contains and the discussion on it is going overboard with an investigative theme when this is only a matter of due diligence as of now. What should the OP do if the other person is reported clean after a casual contact with police? Just because someone is not known to the police or because they aren't able to furnish that information easily what should the OP do? Consider the other person clean and run for the deal? That's risky.

It's not really a matter of investigation, small business deals don't work that way. OP should stay away from such a deal regardless of what comes out from law enforcement.

Even in the best case scenario this deal makes no business sense.

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    +1 @GayotFow sends his regards to you as well for a great answer. – Giorgio Feb 7 '18 at 13:14
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    I'm positively surprised that he liked this answer which is nowhere close to the quality of his answers. Thanks @GayotFow – Hanky Panky Feb 7 '18 at 14:00
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Have you had a Skype or Hangouts chat with him? Gotten to know him? Searched up his name and found his face or info somewhere? Really, if you're going to become business partners, it's ridiculous to fly somewhere without having seen and done some research on each other, and this is true regardless of whether or not this is a scam.

Try doing these. If he gives you a hard time, it's probably a scam. Otherwise, maybe not (unlikely).

  • At the least, meeting someplace very public (and keeping it that way - e.g. don't follow them to a private place the first meetup) makes a lot more sense than moving and uprooting your life first. If they are legit they would understand the need for safety and caution. If they are illegit they will resist that or try to convince you otherwise with reasons you cannot verify that bring about emotion or urgency. – cr0 Feb 7 '18 at 14:33
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If the other answers and comments on this question haven't put you off pursuing this further, you should:

  • Do some thorough research into UK immigration and employment law as it would apply to you - depending on your nationality, etc. As a starting point you can find information on the UK government website and possibly on the Expatriates or Law SE sites.
  • Ask your contact any questions arising from this. For example are they offering to sponsor your visa application, can they send you a copy of the employment contract they will be offering you, and so on.
  • Check their answers by getting independent legal advice. For example, have a lawyer examine the employment contract and review what your immigration/visa situation would be.

If your contact is not willing to cooperate with this, I suggest that would be a red flag that it is a scam. If you think the above steps are too difficult or expensive, I suggest that the risk that it is a scam is too big for you to take.

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It strikes me that the most likely thing here is that you're being baited for some kind of advance-fee scam or an airline fee scam. The classic signs are all here; exotic locale, once-in-a-lifetime-offer that seems too good to be true, other person is willing to invest considerable expense without you having to risk anything, etc, etc.

Given that they're offering you the equivalent of about $15,000 of accommodation and services, if you want to assess whether they're actually genuine, you could ask them to advance you a very small sum of money (say, $100) toward a new piece of equipment for your youtube videos. Scammers hate paper trails and they hate risking their own money. If they're legitimately going to act as your agent they'll send the money without question from their bank account to yours. If they hmm and hah, insist on paying via an anonymous method (such as Western Union), threaten to break off contact because of your unreasonable request or seem in the least anxious about spending that kind of money then you know that they're definitely trying to scam you.


My guess is that at some point over the next few weeks/months they'll claim that they've sorted out your accommodation (so that there's a ticking clock to raise the stakes) and they're ready to book your travel but they've found out that they need your personal details (so you'll need to post your passport, etc) to make the bookings. They may also ask for you to pay a portion of the travel fees or some kind of "arrangement fee" that "has to come from your account, not mine".

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You need to get an understanding of this individual outside of the communication channels he is controlling. It is easier to get assurance about an individual's real reputation on some social media than on others. YouTube is overrun with trolls, Twitter is a little bit better - you can understand people's history and network a bit more easily, Facebook is slightly better again - you can usually separate bots from real people fairly easily, LinkedIn is much better just for understanding people's careers and bona fides.

Do they have a blog, or company sites they happy to show you? Do they work with well known people who are happy to vouch for them?

Email or message them: make sure you ask them all the questions you want answered. It's okay to say that you want to be clear about your immigration/visa/employment status. If they are offering you a job they should be happy to offer you a written employment contract.

If you can't build up a clear picture of who this individual is then just don't trust them. If they are trustworthy they will also be transparent.

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