Everything I Ever Needed to Know About not Getting Scammed on the Internet I Learned from LiveJournal


One of the people I remember from my LiveJournal days was runfaster. I wasn’t LJ friends with her, but we were LJ friends of LJ friends and I’d hear about her from time to time. At some point (please forgive my hazy memory of these details), runfaster suffered one of the following: a very late miscarriage, a stillbirth, or the death of a very young child, as well as the death of her significant other. It was tragic, of course. People got together and sent her gifts and possibly money. I seem to recall people sending her handfuls of dirt, which I assume was meaningful. I felt bad for her in the drive-by way you feel bad about people you don’t know who experience terrible things. (I don’t mean that to sound dismissive of other people’s grief. I just don’t know what else you can do that isn’t grief vulturing.)

Eventually it was revealed that there was no dead baby or significant other. She made it all up. There was much wailing and rending of garments but, to her credit, I remember that runfaster somehow owned up to what she did and eventually at least some people forgave her.

Then there was enprise. Enprise was a perky female deaf college student. We ran in the same LJ circles (holy shit telling you that I ran in LJ circles is just about the lamest thing I’ve ever said about myself). I can’t remember whether she was in The Reviewers — I think she wasn’t but was friends with some of the members. (Did you know about The Reviewers? It was an LJ community where you submitted your LJ and the members reviewed it (usually in the most blunt fashion possible) and if you were good enough, you became a member and got to review new applicants and act like a pompous buffoon with the other members. Sometimes it’s hard to even remember a time when people actually wanted to hear honest feedback about their blogs. That was really fun.)

From what I remember, everybody loved enprise. As a tedious contrarian by nature, this made me kind of not like her. Yeah, I’m like that unless someone is so resoundingly awesome I can’t even hate. So I never read her LJ or got fished in to the enprise love, but it existed and it was vast.

There’s not much of enprise left on the internet, but here’s a little something from one of my old LJ friends:

This will all sound familiar to anyone on LJ who read enprise’s journal. enprise was a young girl nicknamed Cee who went to UPenn, and was deaf. At one point she got Lyme disease, and at another point, got a job a fairly prestigious law firm. Her journal was filled with wild adventures (with her extremely wealthy friends) and shocking health problems. At first her journal wasn’t well written, but it got better and better; to the point where it was one of my few ‘must reads.’

As it turns out, as Uberdionysus stated:

And then we found out that she was a he. She was actually a thirty year old fat man named Brian Sullivan.

So enprise was some dude who was not perky, female, deaf, or a college student. He was some sort of real estate professional or something. He was widely ridiculed on LJ for the rest of its relevant life and as far as I know, nobody ever heard from him again (unless, of course, he took on yet another identity).

I also ran an LJ community about handbags that was pretty popular at the time. Eventually, people grew tired of looking at and talking about pictures of handbags. They wanted to buy and sell handbags through the community.

I thought that was the stupidest idea anybody ever had. I’m pretty bitchy, so I ended up banning everybody who got pissy about it. Why, I wondered, do you need to sell your handbags on an LJ community? That’s what Ebay is for, at least if you’re legit and not trying to scam anybody. I was the only maintainer of a huge community and didn’t have the time or the interest in policing that shit. What would happen when somebody ripped somebody off? I mean, believe it or not, bitches can get pretty dramatic about handbags even when transactions in goods aren’t involved. I didn’t want to deal with it so I just said no.

So I thought it was kind of common sense to: (1) not buy shit from people you know only from the internet on the internet outside an established structure for doing so such as Ebay or Etsy; and (2) not send money to people you know only from the internet.

As recent events including the Anthroholic scandal (see here, here, and here) and the Jennifer Perillo donation kerfluffle (more on that here) reveal, it’s not common sense. People are willing to buy merchandise from individual bloggers sight unseen and donate money to people they’ve never met. This is fascinating and troubling to me, but that’s what happens on the internet.

The point of this post is: Be careful with your money. Buy from legitimate sources. Realize that Anthropologie addiction is a serious problem that has affected your life negatively in the following ways. . . . Be generous with people you actually know. Openly question others, no matter how popular they are or how many times they call you a troll because they don’t want to be questioned. Be kind but also be skeptical. Be careful with your trust — not everybody deserves it.