This is just a quick post today because I have had a very busy week. My latest book was published today, and so I have had to do lots of work to prepare for it. It’s an exciting time for me, but also an exhausting one.
Today I’d like to talk to you about avoiding IELTS scams. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonest people out there. Many of them are thieves, but some of them are just misguided or lazy. In any case, they are a danger to people who study IELTS. I want to tell you a few important things to help steer clear of these people, and avoid losing your money.
The IELTS Certificate Scam
This is the biggest scam out there right now, and it is a major problem. Lots of people want to get a high band score in the IELTS exam and of course many of them want to do it easily. They feel the exam is too difficult or they cannot improve quickly enough. Then on Facebook they see someone offering a fake IELTS certificate…
It seems too good to be true because it is. There is no way of buying a genuine IELTS certificate, and there never will be. At best, you may buy a fake certificate that can fool a few people. However, it is much more likely that you will have your money taken, and you will get nothing in return.
A few weeks ago, I saw a woman on the IELTS Preparation 9.0 Facebook group complaining that she paid one of these scammers $1,000 for a certificate! Of course, he took her money and closed his Facebook account, and she never heard from him again. It was an expensive lesson to learn.
I hope that most people reading this already understand that they shouldn’t fall for such an obvious trick, but sadly I see it every day. On the Facebook IELTS groups, scammers make a post, and several people ask for more details.
So what can you do?
The first thing to do is to report this whenever you see it. Report it to Facebook and report it to the group admins. These people can help to remove this spam before anyone gets ripped off. If you don’t feel like reporting it, at least just ignore it. These people only do this because it makes money. If everyone ignored them, they would have to find a real job instead!
You can recognize these scams very easily. Firstly, anyone offering an IELTS certificate is a liar or thief. Simply do not trust them. Sometimes they will avoid asking for money directly, but try to send you private messages. Then they will make their illegal offer where it is harder for others to warn you. The best thing is to avoid contacting them in the first place, and ignore them if they contact you.
These people often pick English sounding names that are actually not very convincing. I often see people called “Smith John” because these are two very common names. However, the scammer has put them backwards by mistake.
The scammer will also put a generic picture of a European-looking person as his profile picture. Usually this person is a middle-aged man in a suit. You will also see IELTS or British Council logos around him. His Facebook profile will claim he is working for the British Council. These are all fake, and you should ignore them.
Finally, don’t give your details away so easily! If someone asks for your Whatsapp contact info, don’t be so eager to hand it over. They might pester you with spam once they have your details.
Selling Questions Before the Exam
Similar to the IELTS certificate scam, you sometimes see people trying to sell a list of IELTS questions that will supposedly be used in the next exam. It should be obvious that this is also a complete scam. Of course, the British Council and other IELTS groups would not leak their questions, nor would they sell them.
If you ever see someone claiming to sell questions for forthcoming IELTS exams, just follow the same advice as above and either ignore them or report them.
Lies, Tricks, and Clickbait
The internet is full of lies, tricks, and clickbait nowadays. Just look in your e-mail inbox or your social media timeline. There are so many people trying to get money from you in dishonest ways. It is very sad to see, but if you are sensible, it’s quite easy to avoid being conned.
In terms of IELTS, there are various categories for this problem. Most of them involve false promises, such as “Use this method and get a band 9 guaranteed!”
Of course, nothing can guarantee you a band 9 score. The person making such a claim is simply trying to attract your attention and fool you into giving them either your time or your money. I made a video about this last summer:
One more thing: Often these people are not directly trying to get money from you, but they want you to use their website or app or video. This may seem harmless, but they are usually telling you useless or damaging information, and spreading their influence further.
Common sense must prevail, especially in this modern era when it is so easy to meet this kind of spam online.
Illegally Distributing IELTS Materials
In the 21st century it is pretty common to see copyright infringement on the internet. People might download movies and music illegally, or illegally stream a new episode of a TV show. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is still a form of theft, and it is illegal.
On IELTS websites and Facebook pages, you often see people asking, “Can I get a free copy of Makkar?” or “Click here to get a free copy of Cambridge IELTS 9!” People share this stuff through Google Drive and Dropbox.
But there are some problems with it.
- It’s illegal – you may be one of the few people unlucky enough to be prosecuted
- It’s immoral – hardworking people made these materials to help you, so you shouldn’t steal from them
- They may contain viruses
- By supporting the criminals who share this material, you are giving them power, money, and credibility
I often see people on the Facebook groups asking for free copies of IELTS Liz videos and other similar materials. This is incredibly disrespectful to these hardworking people. I wrote one book that I give away for free, but I have others that I sell to make money. Like other teachers, I need money to live. It’s not right for people to steal from us.
To avoid these, don’t download irresponsibly. Avoid unknown downloads and basic Blogger websites, where illegal materials are common.
Low Quality Books and Courses
This last category is not really a scam, but it’s still a big problem. In fact, I wrote a post about it a few months ago.
You often see really bad advice on YouTube and various websites and blogs. However, this is at least free. When you get bad advice for free, it’s disappointing, but it’s far worse to pay for it.
There are some people who upload really terrible books to Amazon or sell really bad courses online. You have to be careful when you’re paying for IELTS material. Check the reviews and ask others for recommendations before you buy.
I have a list of some good IELTS books here, and if you want advice on a course or anything else, you can just send me an e-mail. I’d be happy to help.