Photographers, beware of this old scam that’s going around again

Tips & Techniques

I’m not happy to say that people can get very creative when coming up with scams. And it looks like an old one has been going around again lately. So, be extra careful when taking jobs and don’t disregard anything that looks like a red flag.

Redditor laddphoto warned the community of the scam as he received an email with a “job offer” that has red flags all over it. After replying to the initial email from the “potential client,” this is the reply that he got:

“Good day, Thanks for getting back to me and I’m sorry for the late response due to my busy schedule the essential reason for contacting you is right now am doing a social work to help the victim of Earthquake in Nepal and Ecuador also to provide cloth, food and shelter for less privilege kids. I’ve been following your work since I love your style! I recently got engaged and am wondering if I can get more information on your availability and pricing for my wife birthday party i would be needing your photographer service for my 40 years wife birthday on the 28th of June, 2020 which will be held in my house here in Houston, TX i will be needing your service for almost 8 hours i hope you can handle that for me  Hope to hear back from you soon and get back to me with an estimate also will like to know if you are the owner or the manager and do you accept check as payment.”

While reading this email, my inner voice was screaming “Scam alert! Scam alert!” First of all, who else starts an email with “Good day?” It sounds like a clumsy direct translation of a greeting that’s used in another language (trust me, I’m bilingual). Why mentioning Nepal and Ecuador and the alleged help to its victims? What does that have to do with anything? “I recently got engaged and am wondering if I can get more information on your availability and pricing for my wife birthday party” – you got engaged to your wife? You mention engagement but need a photographer for her birthday? What? And these are only some of the warning signs.

Fortunately, laddphoto is clever enough to recognize red flags. These are quite obvious, but note that some scammers are way more cunning. It’s not always this easy to spot the red flags.

Now, laddphoto explains how this kind of scam works. “You reply with an estimate, then without any other response, they courier a check to you, typically using a service like DHL,” the Redditor writes.

“The check will be made out to you and it will be for way more than the amount of your estimate. They will include a note with instructions that you are to deposit the check and send the balance to another vendor, typically an event planner. Of course the check they wrote to you is counterfeit, so you’re out whatever funds you send to the ‘event planner.’”

After reading laddphoto’s explanation, I found the story very familiar. This scam was already going around and we wrote about it last year. Back then, this kind of scam had cost victims nearly $5 million in 2019 only!

Laddphoto believes that it’s not a coincidence that this scam has emerged again. “I think the timing of this is not surprising being that people are hungry for work right now,” the Redditor writes. I absolutely agree. Many photographers were left without work during the pandemic. Now that the world is slowly coming back to normal (sort of), they’re eager to get work as soon as possible, so their guard might be down. So please, be careful and don’t fall for anything that seems even remotely fishy.

[via Reddit]

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