Game App Scams

I like playing leisure games on my phone. I like it even more when playing the game lets me earn money.

What I don’t like are ads that take advantage of people who are desperate to make money in the time of COVID.

In other words, people like me. I’m still waiting on my disability and writing and making art and hoping for the best. I would rather be able to earn money through my work, but COVID has forced my target audience to choose between paying rent and feeding their children. It sucks, but it is what it is. I am unable to do most other jobs due to my health issues and duties as a stay-at-home mother to a disabled child and a very active toddler.

Soooo, when I saw an ad for a game that looked fun and claimed to pay out via PayPal and Amazon gift cards on the same day, I thought, “Well, why not? Every bit helps.” The game itself was a fun little puzzle app that was interrupted by an ad every time I earned a chest or got a bonus for clearing multiple lines.

I could live with that; after all, ad revenue is how these apps are able to let users earn prizes, right? Pretty soon, I had earned enough to cash out on PayPal.

The first lie was that there was no minimum to cash out. When I clicked on the PayPal icon in the game, it had a minimum cashout of $200. I had earned enough to cash out the $500 PayPal card, so I went with that. It asked for my email address, so I provided the one I use with my PayPal account. No big deal.

The second lie was that the PayPal money would be available to redeem within minutes. Instead, I was greeted with a timer saying my card was processing and would be available in 72 hours.

Oh, okay.

Then when I came back to the app to check my status again, it told me that I had to watch 100 ads AND wait three days to get my PayPal money. I was annoyed, but I shrugged and played the game and watched the ads.

72 hours later, a new timer popped up. Now it said that I had to wait 480 hours (20 days) to get my PayPal money. I was very annoyed because due to COVID and my lack of income, we had to split up our rent payment and defer our car payment. My kids were also outgrowing their clothes, and I needed some sundries myself. I figured I would wait and hope for the best. In the meantime, I earned enough to redeem $2000, $3000, and $5000 in PayPal cash, as well as enough pink gems to redeem for a $100 Amazon gift card. For each of those prizes, I had to watch 100 more ads and wait 72 more hours and 20 more days.

The third lie came when the first 20 days had ended. The app now says that the money was transferred to my PayPal account. It has been long enough that I should have $5500 in my PayPal account and a $100 Amazon gift card (which I redeemed with my same valid email address).

So far, nada.

I emailed the address listed with the account, but so far, they have not responded.

I’m not the only person out here who is trying to keep her family afloat in these challenging times. I’m furious that these scammers are taking advantage of good people who are trying to earn money however they can to provide for their families. I’m not sure if there’s anything that can be done, but I’m looking into it. It’s not fair that these people are exploiting vulnerable people and getting away with it.

If anything happens, I’ll be sure to provide an update.


Poverty (S)kills

Poverty kills. There’s no disputing that being poor leads to a shorter lifespan, more health issues, and worse outcomes in virtually everything. However, when you live close to or below the margins, you learn a lot of useful skills…mainly because you can’t pay someone else to do it for you, and if you do it poorly, it’s just going to make things worse.

One of the things I learned from both of my parents is to use what we have on hand to make reasonably edible food that can be used to make other reasonably edible food if there are any leftovers.

Case in point: last night, I went to one of my long-neglected staples, red beans and rice, Creole-style. Sadly, I was out of tomatoes and andouille, so I made do with ground beef and tomato soup. I cooked the beans in my instant pot and cooked the ground beef on my stove. I then mixed the beans and ground beef (both drained) in my instant pot with the tomato soup and an assortment of spices. It came out so good that there weren’t really any leftovers. If there had been, I was planning on using tortillas to make burritos. I was both very pleased and mildly irritated that my ad hoc recipe worked well enough not to leave leftovers.

Another example is chili. I can make a pot of chili stretch for days, and it actually tastes better if you give it a day or two to let the ingredients get to know each other really well. (I also have a surprising secret ingredient that gives my chili a pleasing, unexpected depth of flavor, but I’m keeping it to myself for now.)

If I ever write a cookbook, I’m calling it “Reasonably Edible,” because that’s the baseline for good food in my house. I do my best to use what I have on hand to bring recipes to life, and I often have to tweak things based on what ingredients I have on hand. My goal is to fix food that is nourishing, filling, tasty, and affordable.

Another important skill I’ve learned is hand sewing. My stitches aren’t always pretty, but they’ll hold. I used part of the first COVID stimulus payment to buy a sewing machine because I went blind in my right eye, and threading a needle is considerably harder when one no longer has any real depth perception and one’s “good” eye doesn’t have very good visual acuity. I haven’t touched it yet because the bulk of my day is spent wrangling a very curious toddler, and I’m scared she’ll swallow a needle or sew her hand.

Basic plumbing is another important skill for a poor person to have. If you know how to get a hairball out of your tub drain, clear a clog, or install new flushing hardware on a toilet correctly, you can save yourself a ton of money. The bigger stuff needs to be done by a professional, of course, because an untrained person messing with pipes will likely end in a bigger mess, but the minor stuff is easily handled by anyone who can learn from someone who has experience fixing stuff like that.

Auto skills like being able to change your own oil and change out a flat tire are also important, but with new rules in most areas regarding doing automotive maintenance at home and distracted drivers, it’s probably best to rely on professionals for help.

As a person doing her best to claw her way out of poverty, my best advice to you is this: learn from people who have skills in various areas from cooking to home maintenance. If you can do things well yourself instead of having to hire a professional or spend tons of money on premade food, you’ll be able to stretch your dollars further than you thought possible (And when you’re stuck living paycheck to paycheck, every penny saved matters a lot.)


A Pain in the Royal High Ney

My oldest, Sam, collects LOL Surprise dolls. They’re cute, and the way they’re packaged captures the fun part of unwrapping something and discovering what’s inside.

The second LOL Surprise Sam got when she first started collecting them was a opulently dressed doll named Royal High Ney.

And boy, was she ever!

Naturally, Sam loved this cute little tribute to the opulence of 18th century French royalty and took her EVERYWHERE. Unfortunately, this constant companionship led to Royal High Ney I being lost in the Missouri Botanical Gardens during the Japanese Festival of 2017. After many days of calling to check if Royal High Ney had been turned in, I decided to buy a new Royal High Ney off of eBay.

Royal High Ney II arrived with a little parasol and a note that she had a great time at the Japanese Festival, but she had gotten lost and had to make her way back home. Royal High Ney II joined all of the other LOL Surprise dolls, and they had lots of fun and adventures.

…and then our house burned down in the early hours of April 13, 2019. Royal High Ney was lost once again, along with all of Sam’s other LOL Surprise dolls.

Christmas was tight in 2019, and again in 2020, but I did my best to try and track down some of her old LOL dolls on eBay and buy her some new ones. I got her Fancy and Royal High Ney III. All seemed to be well until I went to wrap up the open LOL Surprise dolls. Fancy was right where I left her.

Royal High Ney III had disappeared.

I tore up my room and house trying to find her, but she wasn’t where I left her, and I wasn’t able to do a thorough search of areas where she might have accidentally migrated. Sam was happy with Fancy and her new LOL Surprise dolls, but I was angry with myself because I couldn’t find Royal High Ney III.

The adorable plastic pain in my heinie has to be in this house somewhere. I’m hoping I find the misadventuring LOL doll before Sam’s birthday so I can give her to Sam with her other birthday presents.


What Determines a Person’s Worth?

I recently got into a bit of a scuffle with my father over a meme I had posted.

My father interpreted it as me saying that people who produce food, shelter, and healthcare should not be paid for their work.

That is not what I, or the meme, was sharing at all. What the meme is stating is that a person’s worth is not tied to their ability to bring in an income, and a person’s access to food, shelter, and healthcare should not be tied to their income.

Contrary to what certain narratives would lead one to believe, people do want to work to the best of their abilities and be able to bring in an income and help provide for themselves and their loved ones. Unfortunately, circumstances prevent someone from being able to work to provide an income.

Before I started going blind, I had a child with autism who was entering puberty, and I had a very attached baby who is commonly referred to as a “velcro baby.” We could not afford childcare for them (and my velcro baby would have been very distressed to be away from me), and any job I could get with my degree and gaps in W-2 employment probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of daycare. We save more by me staying home, but the fact remains that the income isn’t there. There are very few jobs that allow for the flexibility of caring for children and working whenever one can while still providing a regular paycheck.

I write books and make art (and I have had an easier time making art while caring for my children, surprisingly enough), but the pandemic being what it is, I haven’t been able to create a steady income from the work that I can still do with my declining eyesight. I can’t even see the screen that well without zooming in and closing my right eye so that the blur doesn’t cover up my words.

I’m not sure if he was being deliberately obtuse or was genuinely misunderstanding the meaning of the meme, but either way, the fact that that is what he took away from it is troubling.

Everyone should be paid fairly for the work that they can do, be it making art or saving lives or even just writing. We also have a duty to take care of those who are unable to work for one reason or another. A person’s worth is not based on their ability to contribute, nor should it be. All life has value.


Wiggle Room

I’ve been trying to find the space to write and make art, but it seems like my work is never done or I never get enough rest.

I get it–it’s what I signed up for as a parent–but at the same time, it sucks.

My husband got me a gently used tablet for Christmas with his bonus from work, and while it’s easier for me to use in Nem’s room, she still tries to take it from me when I try to work while she plays. Even Haru can’t resist the allure of the stylus so seductively attached to my tablet case.

I’m still trying to figure out what works on the tablet and what doesn’t. I’m hoping I can do blog entries on it without too much of a hassle. I also enjoy making art on it. I’m not happy with the stylus I have, but I’m not sure if there’s anything better out there, really.

Sam’s doing a mix of in-person school and school at home. Our district gets a lot of grief, but they’re doing a great job helping the kids stay safe and partnering with local mental health resources to help kids cope with everything that’s going on. The teen years are tough enough without a pandemic and catastrophic loss piled on top.

And since it looks like Nem is going to wake up from her nap, I’ll close for now. I haven’t found a specific “voice” for my blog, so I’ll update as I can, and it will probably be pretty random for a while.

Hang in there, everyone.