I have been active in threads on other blogs about Laray Carr (a.k.a. LCP) and Hope Hunt, but I have not added to my own blog about this potential scam. After reading the newest comments today, I decided to go ahead and post a warning on my own blog.
First of all, here are the other threads:
* Comments on Deb's Freelance Writing Jobs
* More comments on Deb's Freelance Writing Jobs
* A post and comments on Deb's Freelance Writing Jobs
* A post and comments on Writer Beware
* A post and comments on A Musing Scribe
Here are the details:
* LCP is launching 30-some magazines at once. According to those who have worked in the publishing business, this is not just impossible, but laughably so.
* A couple of weeks ago, Laray Carr was running ads asking for lots of articles on short notice. The deadline was something like the end of August, to my memory, and launch/payment was to be in mid-September.
* Although I haven't seen the ads myself, apparently LCP was advertising $50 for 500 words. However, many writers have reported being offered a different rate when they applied. Reports vary from $50 for 1,000 words, $50 for 1,500 words, and $50 for 2,000 words.
* Fifty bucks for 500 words isn't bad. Fifty bucks for 1,500 or 2,000 words sucks. To make it even worse, LCP reportedly was asking for fact sheets and contact information for experts, as well. That's an awful lot of work for gas money!
* From what I understand, the contract takes all rights until the articles were published. Thirty days after publication, resale rights reverted to the writer. However, the way it was described to me, it sounds like LCP can basically hold the articles forever and never pay the writers.
* Aside from the blatant unfairness of the contract terms, the contract did not state the company name or contact information. Writers who complained or asked for that information to be included were subsequently removed (or threatened with removal) from the company's list of writers.
* Laray Carr had no company website until very recently -- it was created a week ago, in fact, just about the time people started raising suspicions. There is nothing there, though, supposedly because they haven't paid the designers, so the designers haven't released the work.
* The fax number given to the writers is registered to a steam-cleaning company. Hope Hunt recently admitted in comments on Writer Beware that they're using her husband's business's fax number.
* Laray Carr is supposedly owned by a multi-millionaire ex-football player, but Hope Hunt and others won't say who the owner is.
* No one can find information on Laray Carr, even though companies are legally required to file their articles of incorporation, which would then become public record.
* LCP is apparently threatening writers and website/forum owners with legal action for voicing their concerns (or publishing writers' concerns).
Here are the issues.
Needless to say, writers who have signed on with Laray Carr are worried about the possibility of this turning out to be a scam. Here are my concerns:
* The records for tracing them are confusing, and maybe even dead ends. People are getting different addresses for everything: WHOIS records, the steam cleaning company, etc. Someone paid Intellius for a reverse address check, and the address they were given has someone else's name on it -- it's a residence. All of this means it'll be difficult to track these guys down if they don't pay as promised.
* They demanded lots of work all at once, before anyone actually got paid. Many scams will demand lots of work in a short period of time, so that by the time you find out you're not getting paid, you've already been drained dry. This sounds an awful lot like the same stunt to me.
* The way the contract is written, they can retain all rights to the work until they publish, yet publish the work elsewhere without telling (or paying). The way the contract is written is quite sneaky. From what I understand, if the magazine deal doesn't happen, Laray Carr still gets all rights until they've had a chance to publish the work -- and the writer doesn't get paid until it's published. Even if they're legit, they can simply hold the work hostage forever without paying the writer. If they're not legit, they can claim the magazine deal didn't work out, and then quietly publish the work elsewhere; if the writer doesn't know, and s/he is honest, s/he will be prohibited from reselling the work to anyone else (which would provide competition for LCP's content).
* They are using legal threats to try to prevent writers from speaking out. This is another thing you often see from scammers: They make empty legal threats to try to frighten writers from telling others about their experiences. When Micah started asking questions and voicing her concerns, Hope showed up on the thread and accused her of spreading lies. It seemed to me she was strongly hinting that what Micah was doing was wrong -- even though all Micah was doing was asking other writers for information and advice! Shortly afterward, I heard that LCP was threatening writers with legal action for speaking out.
Here is the problem with that. As long as the writers are either 1) stating the facts, or 2) clearly stating their opinion, they are entitled to speak (or write) freely. Despite what any company may tell you, as long as you stick to the facts and/or state your opinions clearly as such, you are not committing libel. Don't let LCP or anyone else scare you into thinking otherwise!
Conclusion and recommendations:
There has been a lot of debate over whether it can actually be said yet that LCP is scamming writers. As far as I'm concerned, as of this moment they are not proven scammers -- but I will not be surprised at all if it turns out they are. Some of Laray Carr's policies and practices make me suspect a scam, such as their refusal to put company information on the contract, their push for as many articles as possible in a short period of time, and the general lack of information about the company.
Even if Laray Carr is not a scam, though, in my opinion they are a bad deal for writers, and someone you should stay away from. I would never accept a client who advertises one rate, and then offers another. Likewise, you should never work with someone who keeps demanding more work without increasing your pay as well. But most importantly, never work with anyone who refuses to give you contact information -- you should always have a way (other than email) to contact your clients, just in case!
Please click here for an update with new information on Laray Carr, LCP, and Quincy Carr.