From the moment I began my training as The Phoenix – an energy healer who specializes in inner transformations – I had visions of the ancient healing arts of the East coming together with the astounding mechanics of Western medicine. Because of this, I often draw to me individuals who are also yearning for this same sort of integrative approach and I have been asked to participate in several ventures that have all, eventually, gone kaput because the time just hasn’t been right.
But, I keep believing that it is possible. And that belief is the reason I am able to share the following story with you today.
I answered the phone recently and was greeted by a deep masculine voice tinged with a delightful New York accent and a smile. I liked John Schnepf right away. He had reached out to me through email, saying he was working for a company called PerksConnect who had been hired to put together a benefits package for the physicians, surgeons, nurses and staff members of the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Employee Association located here in Salt Lake City. As soon as I read through the email, I was intrigued. It sounded exactly like what I had been envisioning for such a long time, so I replied and we set up a time to talk later that day.
To be integrated into the government medical facility would provide the experience that I foresaw over a decade ago. It would be an opportunity to support highly skilled medical personnel in their own healing, as well as possibly working within their system to provide support to their patients. I loved talking with John. He had read through my website and was all lit up about talking with me. It was a great conversation as he shared with me all he had learned over the years of working with PerksConnect setting up benefit packages for different companies all around the nation. He listened about my dedication to the art of Reiki and asked questions and listened some more.
At the end of that call, given that I was experiencing a cold the day we were talking and my voice was giving out, John said he’d call me back the next day with more details and to allow me to sit with it for a while. With me being all fired up and raring to go, I thanked him and hung up. This is a dream come true! I was thinking and my body was filled with the sensations of success as I happily dozed off into a NyQuil haze.
The next morning John called me back. We were both still really excited, speaking as though he and I were a match made in heaven. He shared with me how thrilled he was to have found me and to be presenting such a “high caliber” Reiki Master Teacher to his clients. He said they had asked him to find two Reiki practitioners, but he was going to go back and tell them that they only needed me because I was The Best Match for them.
Something in the way he said “The Best Match” sent off little bells and whistles, but I ignored them. I was getting the opportunity I had been holding space for and I was blinded by the desire to have my vision come to pass.
He started talking quickly, no longer allowing for the languid conversation pace we had set the day before. He was rattling off ways that PerksConnect was going to support me in being part of the benefits package and how those employees would find me. In a blur, he dumped upon me all the components of the program they offer – mobile apps and member dashboards and websites and newsletters and hot deals and messaging systems and website links and profile pages and special bios.
Soon, my head was spinning and I couldn’t see straight. But, I kept blinking to clear away the blur in my ever-dimming vision of me participating in an integrative healing system.
Then he said, “This is free to the employees of the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Employee Association, which, in turn benefits you because they will all have access to you for life – this means, months, years, decades… it doesn’t go away. For all that I shared with you – he repeated it all again without a breath and so I was completely dizzy – you pay a monthly fee of $9.95 to participate. You can cancel that monthly fee at any time that you feel this isn’t working for you anymore and that will remove you from the program. There is also a one-time set up fee of $198 to cover the cost of our developing [all the components, which he whizzed through again in one breath for the third time.]”
He finally took a breath and I blinked several times, the vision completely disintegrating and my senses returning. The dream was still but a dream and I would not be The Best Match for the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Employee Association because it was all a lie.
Further research showed that this company, PerksConnect, has been reaching out to massage therapists and Reiki Masters and drywall companies and painters and reflexologists and any other sort of entrepreneurial business for quite some time. According to the research I did after this second phone call, as far as I can determine, this company plays into the small business owner’s constant need for more exposure and is able to spin it in a way that entices them to pay the set up fee and an ongoing monthly membership fee without ever really providing anything they promise. Some of the complaints said they never received their “member dashboard” software, which was the most important component of the package, according to John.
I placed a call to the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Employee Association and was put into the voicemail box of the woman in charge of putting together their employee benefits package. I wanted to know if she was aware of PerksConnect using their name to promote their product. At time of this posting, half a day later, she had yet to return my call so I called back and was more insistent. That time, I got to a real person who confirmed that all employee benefits go through the government and no outside companies such as PerksConnect would ever be contacted for such a program. That, the only benefits they offer their employees are health, dental, and vision. There are no other “perks packages” that they endorse.
All of my life, I have ferreted out bullshit in corporate America. At every company I have worked for, I have uncovered where the administration has been out of integrity. In several of those companies, I have unwittingly brought down entire administration systems for embezzlement and policy violation by simply being aware that something wasn’t quite right in the system. That is an ability I came into this world with and it is still very active – even over the phone or through the internet.
Had John really looked through my website, he would have noticed that I am a voice for justice and that I stand up when something needs to be said. Had he really paid attention, he would have chosen out of calling me because, by doing so, he opened up my eyes to something that needs to be stopped. As with all legislation, if enough of us stand together and speak up, things change, and so can this.
Although it did hurt to be teased by my dream only to have it ripped away, I have learned a few things:
- Being committed to living a life of integrity means that people and systems that are not in integrity reveal themselves really quickly.
- The old adage, “if it’s too good to be true, it is,” is sometimes correct. Especially, if, like me you’ve been running the belief that that old adage is true. Sometimes things that seem too good to be true are actually real and true. Sometimes, they’re not. But, if you’re willing to hold space for the possibility of truth to come forth, it does.
- Intuition works in person, on the phone, and over the internet. The key to this particular one is that you have to be willing to listen to yourself and then act upon it accordingly.
- Research is important! It never hurts to ask more questions and look deeper and sometimes it helps.
In the end, feeling sad that my newfound New York friend was, in fact, a scam artist, I jetted off an email to John, saying I wasn’t interested and to not contact me again – ironically pushing “send” just as he was calling me back for the third time. Then, I filed a formal complaint at https://complaint.ic3.gov and then I wrote this article, hoping to spread the word to stop this façade.
I’m pretty smart, usually on top of things, and I am not easily duped. So how did I almost fall for this? How did this “John Schnepf” get to me? The original email (which I have listed below) came through my website. He had done some research – enough so that he found me – and contacted me through my website contact form that is guarded by spambots. I have a special email address that is only for my website so when it popped up with an email, I immediately assumed it was legitimate. That was my first mistake: I assumed it was legitimate. But, I’m noisy and I’m going to do my best to make sure others don’t fall into the trap.
Don’t let yourself be swindled. Educate yourself. Share this post. Put your fellow entrepreneurs on the lookout. Let’s band together so that we’re not bullied by a company that is looking only to get rich on the backs of those who are here to serve humanity.
And one more thing to remember… just because the dream didn’t come true this time does not mean it will never come true.
© Angie K. Millgate
Here is the original email I received:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am working with the VAEA George Whelan Medical Center located in Salt Lake City. I am looking for a Reiki Therapist that some of their 1,200 employees can go to. We are launching their employee Perks program and are in need of certain businesses / services for them to use as a preferred source.
If you are willing to offer special pricing or a discount to these employees, then we will feature your business in a variety of ways. You will be listed on a Free mobile App we have created for their employees. The employees will have access to your business information, location, menu of services and your discount. They will be able to call you from the app as well as get GPS directions. You will even have the opportunity to send messages to them, create hot offers and update your everyday offer.
I am interviewing today and I will only be selecting a few Reiki Therapists. If you would like to offer a discount and work with these employees, please contact me ASAP.
www.perksconnect.com, click on the green vendor tab at the top and view the brief video on how the mobile app works for your business.
John R Schnepf
This is the phone number he actually called from: (631) 870-4339
This is my email to him:
I have spent the time since our phone call earlier today going through everything you sent me and researching PerksConnect further. I also placed a call to the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Employee Association.
While I really enjoyed talking with you and believed you to be offering me something that matched what I was looking for, deeper details about how PerksConnect operates has indicated that your company’s level of integrity is not a match for my definition of integrity.
Perhaps you are unaware of the very negative reputation of your company, but aside from the actual perksconnect.comwebsite, I was hard pressed to find anything positive about the services your company provides. Much of what I uncovered were complaints about PerksConnect being a “scam” and “rip off.” Based on the results of my research, I am not interested in what you are offering.
This is his response to my reply:
Angie,You are aware to your opinions and to what you read.Thebottom line is we have an A+ rating with the BBB and only 19 complaints over the past 3 years and that is with 192,000businesses.I’m aware of what you read and they are businesses complaining that they did not know there was a fee up front.Irealize your mind is made up but if you check the NY BBB you will have a different opinion.Anyway,Good luck to you and hope you feel better.John
1-888-836-7686 ext. 168
If you Google: PerksConnect Scam, you’ll find all sorts of fun and enlightening information. Additionally, this scam has also been known as PerksCard.
I always welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments. Feel free to jot down what you’re thinking in the comment box below.