james pauls • photographer

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fall for something, but not... / PHOTOGRAPHY SCAM

My entry today is just an alert for those who also received the following inquiry for photography services.
In 2010 I received the same request and created a fun little game out of it to see what a scam like this is all about and how to avoid them.
Click on image to open in full size.

It seems legitimate and professional and to know that you are the "chosen photographer" feels awesome.
  1. I replied to the request with a proposal
  2. I was chosen to do the job and promised my fee
  3. A couple emails later with a tiny bit of confusion with payment delivery (distraction) money orders arrived
  4. A call to the issuing bank for the payment produced interesting results:
  • Note the handwritten amount on each money order - that is the original value
  • Each m/o had been cashed for a small amount and a larger amount was printed on them
The Instructions included told me to deposit them and return the excess amount paid
  • Doing this would place empty money orders in my account
  • Excess amounts sent back due to overpayment would be my loss
  • The SCAMMER receives my money in return for worthless money orders
  • My fee = $1030 and money orders total $2975 ...only $1945 difference (sarcasm)
The latest photography request: note the similarities

My name is Ben and my wife's name is Amelia, we sell textiles/fabrics and we are based in England. We will be relocating to the  Mississippi , USA on the 15th of April 2012.

I got your contact on the internet after a search for a photographer. Can you offer 4hours of photographic services during the celebration of our 5th Wedding Anniversary. The ceremony takes place in our newly purchased New York home. Myself, my wife, my lovely daughter-Maria and about 12 family members and friends will be present.

Could you please answer these questions if you are interested in this offer

1)Are you able to provide this service on a date between April 20th and April 30th ? We are quite flexible. which exact date will be good so as to include this in our plan ?

2)What is your location in Mississippi so as to estimate how close you are ?

We look forward to your prompt response


Ben Arik
41 Canterbury Place
London SE17 3AD

When all is said and done, I DID NOT fall for it the first time. I had a bit of detective fun in the process of seeing what this sort of thing is all about.

I recommend that photographers don't get overly excited about this sort of request, follow through professionally and realize things aren't always as they appear. If you are suspicious, don't waste your time, just don't reply.
Be wise and patient with the process of doing business in a consistently professional manner and you'll likely not get burned... I'm glad I didn't.

best regards...
James Pauls • photographer www.eyecravephotography.com