September 15, 2012

various scams via email that are targeting photographers

Photographers are more and more becoming the target for scammers and con artists. They come in all kinds of ways. Really, it’s the Wild West out there!

The most prevalent scam is where the photographer is asked if they are available for a date … and they just want to throw money at you and book you, without even finding out details.

One of the things that reveal them, is the phrasing. For example, if they say “your city”, then it is 100% guaranteed to be a scam. Other vague descriptions like that should also start the alarm bells.

 

how these scams work

The scamming method here is that they want to book you for a certain date, and then pay via bank guaranteed check or via credit card.

The scam comes into play in that they over-pay, and then ask for a refund of that portion of the money.  The bank guaranteed check of course is fake, or the credit card they used is stolen.  Another clue is that you often have to pay the scammer via Western Union Money Transfer. That’s often a consistent part to this type of scam.

The end result is that the photographer who is naive enough to fall for this, is out of pocket by whatever amount they “refunded” to the scammers.

You’ll encounter variations of this, but there are always specific patterns to it that will reveal you’re dealing with a con artist / criminal / scammer.

 

here are some other examples of scams against photographers

An example (in Comic Sans font):

Greetings,
Do you have indoor or outdoor session availability for any of this date 16,17 and 18 of october.Let me know your charges for Family Portraits per session for immediate booking.
Do you have a website?<
Await your reply.
Andrew Miller
(redacted: UK phone nr)

Um … they don’t know my website?  So how did they hear about me? Of course, I’m still waiting for a reply to that question.

And is often the case, the poor use of language is a tell-tale sign.

With this next scammer, I played along for a while, to see what twists and turns they would take.

 

From: mike steel

Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2008 12:06 PM
Subject: PHOTOGRAPHER NEEDED

Hello

i will like to Make an enquiry Concerning my Wedding Which would be Coming up on the 5th of september 2008 ,i need a Good Photographer/videographer who will be Covering all the event(5 hours).Please let me know if you are Available and if you have facilities to accept Credit Card Payments.

Hope to hear from you in other to know your Prices

Warmest Regards

Mark

Again, the poor spelling and grammar are usually good clues.

Then the next clue is that they aren’t specific about what they want … they just want to give you money. No matter whether you are a photographer or videographer.

Then there’s another clue in the inconsistent info, or the lack of info. And when you ask for more details, they will supply some details but will usually remain vague. Or the details won’t match up. Note how the email is from ‘Mike’ but the email is signed by ‘Mark’.

I played along with them for a while, trading emails, but they finally lost interest when I asked whether he is Mike (the “groom”), or Mark (who signed the first email), since I wasn’t sure who I am actually responding to. Here’s their reply.

lol. i see its my twin brother!
sorry!

Riiiiiiiight!!

It seems like the scammers have come up against photographers who are wise to this, and insist on speaking to them over the phone, because the emails have changed slightly now. Now the emails are from the bride’s mother, who happens to be deaf now. However, the rest of the wording remains the same.

Hello
My name is Rose Winans, I Live in Wood-Ridge, NJ 07075, but presenlt in North Corolina for the sake of the Wedding, I will be back soon I am deaf if not i would love to call about this enquiry, I will like to Make an enquiry Concerning my Son’s Wedding which would be Coming up on the 29th of August 2008 , I need a Good photographer/videographer who will be Covering all the event (5 hours) In NJ. Please let me know if you are Available and if you have facilities to accept Credit Card Payments (No Paypal, i dont have a paypal acc).
Hope to hear from you in other to know your Prices.
Regards
ROS

And again, note the bad spelling and grammar, and lack of details.
She even misspells her own name.

You know, we might actually be in trouble the day  these scammers become more articulate.

 

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{ 63 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Caroline Ghetes July 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm

LOL! This is funny that you brought it up because I think every photographer has gotten these emails. I noticed they were scams when they were sending these emails to my personal email (not sure how they got that) instead of my wedding email. LOL!

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2 Steve July 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm

I received a bunch of these mails from Nigerian royalty (Honest!). When I looked into it further I came across this site http://www.419eater.com/
These guys have turned getting spam into a hobby :)

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3 Neil July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Yup, I don’t think you really count as a professional photographer until you’ve received one of these. Then you know you’re on the map!

Neil vN

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4 bethanyb March 19, 2015 at 10:35 pm

woot! second time getting these and have been having little business. It must mean things are about to pick up :P
I played along until he said he was in the hospital when I said I only do in person consultations to sign documents and receive a deposit. and I was like “then we can set up to meet the day before the even, Apr. 10th… I sure hope you will be out for your own event” and “he” replies “I’m not sure I will… can you just send the information” HAHAHAHA. umm.. no. :P I mean… really?!

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5 Bob Pendleton July 15, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Hi Neil:

I had one of these a few months ago, from a bloke claiming to be a doctor from England and getting married in California, he offered to pay all expenses, I never even met the bloke!
Like you, I played along, he got nasty because I wouldn’t give him my PayPal account, I replied that all correspondence is being forwarded to the lawyers at the PPA, I never heard a thing from the “quack’ again, the PPA thanked me for forwarding the emails, I carried on with my life. The PPA have sent me number of warnings about these scams :-))

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6 Christian July 15, 2008 at 7:44 pm

Yes, it looks like the Nigerians are trying different markets. I can’t believe that anyone would fall for this, especially with the bad grammar. I always meet my clients in person, as do most photographers I would imagine.

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7 geoff July 17, 2008 at 5:36 am

I have sold a few things on ebay and also a different hi-fi site in the UK and got similar e-mails there too.

The concerning thing is, even after a cheque HAS been cashed, it can still be re-voked up to 6 months after the event.

luckily i’ve not been stung this way (touch wood)

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8 Jim White July 18, 2008 at 1:43 pm

Last year I received a poorly constructed e-mail from a fellow who indicated that he wanted a wedding shot in Bakersfield, CA. I gave him a quote for the shoot and he sent me a CC for $1000 over.

I’ve recieved a few others from the Nigerians as well . . LOL

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9 Serge July 22, 2008 at 7:38 am

I hadn’t heard about these scams before but where I live clients normally don’t pay with Visa. I also meet clients in person.

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10 Ryan Brenizer July 23, 2008 at 10:58 am

Just got the Rose one.

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11 Patrick Zeinert July 25, 2008 at 9:26 am

God bless google. I was just getting ready to clear my calendar and I decided to google her name. The email was from employ.ceramics@gmail.com. It started off with this “gem:”

Hello, My name is Rose Winans, I Live in Austin Texas, but presenlt in Tennesse for the sake of the my Son’s Wedding, I will be back soon I am deaf if not i would love to call about this enquiry.

Stay diligent. It’s hard enough finding those who actually want your services.

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12 Dave Owens July 26, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Hi, I was reading this and it seems that they are going through so many means to get money of us honest working people. There was this time when my work mate asked me to take some pics of his motorbike for the autotrader webite for sale. We then got numerous emails form this guy saying he wants to buy the bike and eventually ent us a cheque for £6,000 (keeping in mind my mate only wanted 3k for it) stating that after 3 days when the cheque clears send him £3000 back to him through Western Union money transfer, at our local travel agents. He even got his cusins (note the spelling) to email me details of him. After about 3 weeks of playing funny games with him we turned a bit nasty with our emails (funny but very nasty). Then we got an email saying he was sending some heavies down and called us nincompoops. We was shaking in our boots lol.

The bank told us the cheque was for an imaginary bank in Ireland and would have shown up only 4 days after deposit, which is why they are so eager for you to send them the money back after 3 days because it shows up in your bank after 3 days as cleared but will only bounce after 4.

Stay alert for the low lifes as they are getting around everywhere.

Keep well

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13 ALisha July 27, 2008 at 4:44 am

lol, my dad was selling second hand car parts over the internet (in Belgium) several years ago. And he also got a cheque from Afrika with a much greater amount on. And they also asked him to pay a part back. But he’s clever so he didn’t. This is not a new phenomenon so.. don’t be eager to give money or codes to anyone out there!

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14 Richard Brandstetter August 21, 2008 at 8:49 pm

I Got one for a Church revieal in north New Jersey . I called the Church just to see if it was for real it was not the Church was happey I gave them a heads up on the scam they did have professional photographers showup on the Date given.
I wish I had a Group Photo of them

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15 sherry August 22, 2008 at 1:24 am

I know of a photographer who fell for this scam a few years ago. This person was very new to the industry and the email she got-which I got to read- was not like the ones you usually get. It was clean, gave location and times, names of people, what they were looking for- everything.
She was offered a ton of money for a start-up. Something like $4000. Then via the big deposit/ refund trick she lost over half of that money. It was so sad.

Another friend almost got scammed trying to buy a expensive car- only to realize it was a scam just before the deal happened.

Point is- the emails are not always filled with bad grammar and spelling mistakes. Watch out!

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16 tzywen September 28, 2008 at 5:32 am

the strangest thing is, why can’t these scammers spend 5 more minutes to correct their spelling, grammar, punctuations and have it proof-read. With that they might just get more people fooled.

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17 Neil October 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Here is the most recent scam email:

Greetings!

A search for a wedding Photographer in France made me reach you.Self
introduction- Name is Dr. Chester Lincoln,from Canada who owns a business here in Asia.
Purpose of connecting you
I have a Son that will getting married soon in France.I have lot of activities that i am currently attending to.Will be please if you can discharge your service in covering all activities on that occasion.Date of the event is 29th,October,2009.We are welcoming 120 guests. The event is taking place in Paris.
You can as well reach me on phone.Number is +60123012431 Dr Chester Lincoln

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18 Neil vN June 7, 2010 at 10:52 am

And another I received this morning:

Hello this is Mr Lewis Raymon am an event planner and i need a wedding
photographer for a wedding that is coming up on the 12th of june in St
Joseph Cathedral church in ohio, a woman directed me to you that you
are perfect in covering wedding photographs.

okay fine i will like to make a reservation for a wedding coming up
in ohio on the 12th of june 2010 in St Joseph Cathedral church in
ohio, and i will make the necessary arrangement, such as paying the
flight ticket fee and the hotel that you are to lodge in and the
driver will pick you up at the airport and to the avenue of where the
occasion will take place.
i will be making a deposit with my credit card information, and
please i will need a little favor from you so get back to me with the
below information’s.

MANAGER OR OWNER NAMES:
OFFICE ADDRESS:
NAMES OF STAFFS THAT WILL DO THE COVERAGE SO THAT I CAN MAKE THE HOTEL
RESERVATION :
PHONE, FAX:

Regards
Lewis Raymon

Sure, Mr Lewis Raymon. I will get right on that.

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19 ana May 10, 2015 at 4:30 am

Almost like the one I got
Lewis
6:21 PM (7 hours ago)

to me

The price is okay with me and i am ready to make full payment of the service now with my credit card so i can be rest assured the date is secured for the event, I need you to render me a favor regarding the event planner that is handling the event for me. The favor is that the event planner is currently not authorized to accept credit card so i want you to help coordinate his fee on my card along with your payment. I will give you my card to charge for your service and the event planner fee (You will charge your fee then charge an additional $2000 for the event planner) As soon as you charge it through and it approves you will forward it to him so everything can be set for the event, Reason i am asking you for the favor is cus i just got out of Intensive care and My Psychiatrist strongly advice me to minimize the stress i go through else i might develop severe weakness and tiredness. I am willing to offer you an extra $50 as tip for your assistance, Bear with me I will be authorizing and responsible for all the charges on my credit card.

Below is the breakdown of the charges you will be running on my credit card:
Photo-shoot : $1000
Event Planner : $2000
Tip: $50
CC Charges: 2%

Kindly get back to me with the grand total you will be running on my credit card along with the details needed to process my card.

Thank you.

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20 Kat May 14, 2015 at 3:02 pm

That’s the exact one I got!! I started getting super suspicious because of the bad grammar and inconsistency – then when I contacted the “event planner” she was hearing impaired and couldn’t talk on the phone. Ha!

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21 Neil vN July 13, 2010 at 12:04 am

Here is the latest Nigerian scam. Quite unique in its phrasing.
But, it’s got all the markings of a scam.
Note the return email address. Very official.

From: Nwodo Okwesilieze Subject: proposal for photography documentary contract to Neil van Niekerk

Hello Neil van Niekerk,

A couple of weeks back, I was sworn in as the new National Chairman of the largest political party in Africa – the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria.

As part of the national celebrations marking Nigeria’s 50th Independence Anniversay celebrations, a lot of activities has been lined up, part of which will be taking place in London, UK.

As the chairman of PDP, I have discussed with the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the need to have the collection of national landmarks and national events in photos, and this will mark part of the 50th independence anniversary celebrations. Mr. President has given me approval to get a world-class photographer to cover these national landmarks scattered all over Nigeria.

I stumbled on your works while going through the internet. Your works are awesome and breathtaking. I feel you are very eminently qualified to handle this project. So I decided to contact you.

The government of Nigeria wants this Collection of National Landmarks and National Events in Photos to be a worldclass event that will be unveiled in London, UK.

I therefore write you, so that I can give to you a detailed explanations of what we need from you, and the cost of this project. I am not a professional in photography, so I expect you to explain more technicalities to me more based on the project I have already told you above. I wait to read from you soon. Thank you.

Dr.Okwesilieze Nwodo
National Chairman,
People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
Nigeria.

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22 Neil vN July 10, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Another scam email doing the rounds.

Note the awkward language. Also note “my town” and the vagueness of it all.

Dear,
I would like to invite you to the wedding of my son, Randel, with his fiancé Shayne Carter on November 24th, 2012 on my town.To be my party service vendor And let me know the service you can offer me and where are you located because i needed your service to be one of my wedding vendor party. This very memorable event will be attended by people who are close to our family and my friend . To make this event more romantic, we have invited many vendor to serenade the couple. We have also arranged a van service to pick you up at the airport and drive you going to the event.

1……mini-wedding of about 70 invites
2……the wedding start by 12p.m stop by 5pm
3……the wedding will be indoor.
4…….just 5 hours wedding party.

We would really appreciate if you will spare this day for this event. Should you decide not to come for whatever reason, And am assure you that my company his going to responsible for your payment by check for any trip will cost you just let us know your package and fees and your price. Thank you and we are looking forward to seeing you on the said date.
Best Regards.

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23 Steven Mackie September 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

…and they are ALWAYS out of state/country. Returning just in time for the event !

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24 Jon September 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Take the check and when they want a refund, state “sorry we give no refunds”, and offer to give credit for future work.
Just dont take credit cards or paypal deposits or payments.

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25 Neil vN September 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Jon .. the part that you are missing out on, is that the bank WILL take the money out of your bank account again, since there never was any money. It was fraudulent. So even if you’re wise to it, there’s nothing to be gained.

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26 Ann Steward September 17, 2012 at 1:44 am

Haha, omg. The Mike/Mark/twin brother thing is pretty awesome!

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27 Trev September 17, 2012 at 2:41 am

Pen, I have to take you to task. I just spent the last fours hours [although enjoyable, but no work getting done by me] read the 419Eater scammers pages…

What a laugh! Thanks for the link. Sadly back to work now.

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28 Dino September 17, 2012 at 5:11 am

Be always alert and vigilant guys!

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29 Steven Seymour September 17, 2012 at 7:22 am

I’ve had lots of these, and most of them are obvious scams. Very occasionally, though, I’ll get one that’s borderline. One such was from a Chinese couple, married in Hong Kong but wanting some post-wedding photos in Scotland. I decided to be polite but firm about payment – it had to be an international bank transfer and it had to clear in our account at least 14 days before the shoot. I explained that was our policy for all overseas clients.

That couple turned out to be genuine:

In other words, most – but not all – of these poorly articulated emails are scams. So the best response, I think, is to write a generic email that includes, up-front and politely, your payment terms. Then simply copy that same email to every suspect enquiry.

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30 Costas September 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

For those who ask “why these people don’t try to send a better worded e-mail”, here is the answer-read this:
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/06/far-fetched_sca.html

here is an abstract:

Finally, this approach suggests an answer to the question in the title. Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical. Our analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

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31 Neil vN September 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Costas … that’s a very interesting take on this. (And one that is unusually generous about the opinion about the intelligence of the scammers.)

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32 Adi Tanase September 18, 2012 at 1:10 am

Yep, tried it on me as well. Saying that they will pay £4000 for 3 days of fashion shooting. Turned out they were some Nigerians that tried scamming my a few other people on model mayhem as well.

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33 William Eng September 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I’ve gotten emails from a Charlotte, Melissa and Rose with the exact email wordings but only the dates and names have changed. The location is always the same… Central Park Boathouse…situation’s the same too “hearing impaired and currently out of the country”.

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34 Adam September 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Neil,

Your article was very timely. I just got one of these two days before you posted this and I was totally sold on it. I did some research and found that it most certainly is a scam. Do you have any suggestions for how to report these things? If/when I do receive a bad check, can I forward it on to authorities? How can we use these similarly worded emails to trace it to the root of the issue? Instead of batting away a pesky bee that might sting you, why not get rid of the hive?

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35 Neil vN September 18, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Adam, I wouldn’t even bother with that. These scammers are usually not based in the USA. So they are out of reach of the law.

Also, the way that the law works, is usually not in the favor of the innocent. You’d have to be scammed first, to prove that a crime was committed. The law rarely works in a way where intent to commit a crime is the crime .. unless it can be proven. And that is a frustrating dead-end for anyone. So it is simpler just to mark these as spam, and get on with the day’s work on hand.

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36 Adam September 18, 2012 at 5:52 pm

How frustrating! Thanks for the information though. I guess information is the best weapon at this point.

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37 Heather September 21, 2012 at 1:37 am

Gee…….this email looks very similar to the one you posted! Go figure! I was suspicious right off the bat especially since they didn’t know my website. I am very careful to make sure not is my contact info readily available but my website as well. I just cut and pasted the email into Google and found your page. Thank you for confirming what I thought already!

Do you have indoor or outdoor session availability for any of this date 16,17 and 18 of october.Let me know your charges for Family Portraits per session for immediate booking.

Do you have a website?

Await your reply.
Andrew Miller
+447031855658

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38 Bogdan September 22, 2012 at 11:13 pm

Lately I received a few of those emails written in Polish… I wonder when they will realize Bogdan is a name common throughout all Eastern Europe… (nothing in Romanian thus far :-) )

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39 Ellen September 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Not just photographers…I’m a pet sitter, and here is what I just received from Mr. Millerr with two “r”s. Don’t know how he found my e-mail, and had he found my website, it wouldn’t be on there, either:

From:Andrew Millerr
To:undisclosed-recipients:;
Received-On:Today 1:32 PM
Subject:PET SERVICE !!!
More…

Greetings,

I will like to know if you offer Daily check up/walk,cleaning of the dog environs and feeding service.I’ve 12 weeks german shepard,all vaccines are up to date and they are registered with the kennel club papers.

I need 5days of your service,Therefore do you have availability for any of this date 21,22,23,24,25,26 and 27 of October.let me know your charges per hr and details about your service.

Do you have a website?

Best Regard
Andrew
+447031855658

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40 Neil vN December 8, 2012 at 10:19 am

“in your city”

My name is John King and my Fiance name is Susan Peter .We are planing to Have Our wedding in your city,the date of our wedding is on
Feb 9th 2013. They are still working on the venue and as soon as the venue is ready i will let you know.I want to know if the date is available and i want you to give me your fee,we will be in State on January 20th 2013 by then the contract will have been finished because am in New Zealand now for business.Looking forward to read from you soon.
Thanks God Bless
John And Susan

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41 Neil vN December 8, 2012 at 10:20 am

Then there is this time-waster:

Hi,
Thanks for getting back with me promptly. And yes the date is Monday, Dec. 17th 2012. I know it’s strange to get married on a Monday but here’s our reason for it : Getting married on a Monday can be quite symbolic. The beginning of the week is Monday, and everyone looks forward to the growth of the week heading towards the weekend. The concept of getting married and looking forward to staying together for a long period of time seems to mix well with this idea. What are your charges? And i would like for you to answer the following questions for me :

** How long have you been in business?
** How many weddings have you shot? Have you done many that were similar to mine in size and style?
** How would you describe your photography style (e.g. traditional, photojournalistic, creative)?
** What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other photographers?
** Do you have a portfolio I can review? Are all of the images yours, and is the work recent?
** What type of equipment do you use?
** Are you shooting in digital or film format or both?
** Do you shoot in color and black & white? Both? Infrared?
** Are you the photographer who will shoot my wedding? If so, will you have any assistants with you on that day? If not, who will be taking the pictures and can I meet them before my wedding?
** If my wedding site is out of your area, do you charge a travel fee and what does that cover?
** What time will you arrive at the site and for how long will you shoot?
** If my event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?
** What packages do you offer?
** How long after the wedding will I get the proofs? Will they be viewable online? On a CD?
** How much of a deposit do you require?

Thanks i hope to hear back from you soon.
Donald.

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42 Neil vN December 8, 2012 at 10:21 am

And another:

Good day,
I am Mr Williams from washington usa i am getting married to Miss Helen Christy next month on the 20 0f dec 2012 at catholic church and i needed a special photographer who will take a place at the event next month i will like to know all what it will cost you to get to my location here and the actual amount to take a covarage of 6 hours from the church to the reception i really need to know this so that i can contact my father in-law about this because he his the one paying for this coverage await your response immediately. Thanks & God bless
Mr Williams

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43 Jesse Hernandez December 8, 2012 at 11:53 am

Neil, thanks so much for this post! I am also tired of these email scams with their poor grammar and spelling and gibberish. I received that latest one last night and actually considered replying to it for, like, a minute, before I realized it may just be another one of those.
I’m glad you confirmed this for me! Keep up the good work helping out other fellow photographers, Neil!

Warm regards,
Jesse

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44 Neil vN December 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

All in different font types and sizes, with no punctuation.

Good day,
I am Mr Mcjones Williams … i am getting married to Miss Helen Christy on the 25th 0f January 2013 at…..731 West Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster CA

I needed a special photographer who will take a place at theevent next months i will like to know all what it will cost you to get to my location here and the actual amount to take a coverage of 7hour from the church to the reception i really need to know this so that i can contact my father in-law about this because he his the one paying for this coverage await your response immediately.

Thanks & God bless

Regards
Mcjones Williams

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45 Trev December 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm

That looks like a ‘McGyver’ attempt at the written intercourse. :)

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46 Neil vN January 12, 2013 at 11:46 pm

The original email from “Steve”:

Are you available for my up coming wedding ?

No details or anything. Just asking if I am available. No date.
So, either a very clueless groom … or a scammer.

So I asked for a date, and here’s the reply:

Hello,
My name is Steven McCurry,i live in college park, GA(USA).I am presently in Wimbledon,London (UK) but probably will be moving back home soon and i’ll be getting married shortly after my arrival in the states to my fiance Jennifer Ronald. We will need a wedding/party Photographer to help us in making up our ceremony from the church to the hotel reception.We will like to find out what your plans are for Saturday, March 16th,2013. This is the date of our wedding so kindly let us know your availability for this day.We’ll take responsibility for your expenses regarding our plans.we might not be able to meet you soon as planned,due to our unavailability in the states but,we are willing to retain the date, that’s to make deposit for booking prior to our arrival to be sure we are interested in your service,if we really are.

Regards..

Waiting to get your response.

Steven McCurry & Jennifer Ronald

It had all the trademarks of a scam email already, so I asked where the wedding was being held. It’s another give-away that they didn’t mention a specific place.

Scammers need to cast a wide net, so they rarely give a city or venue upfront.

Here is their follow-up reply – a canned email response.

Hello Once Again ,
Thanks for keeping in touch with us.Here is the services we will like you to render to us,we will want you to send us your price for just four hours with high quality images on 1CD and a parent album each because we will be sending some of the pictures to our relatives,we will also need high quality pictures for future references and i’m sure we could browse through your website for more prints in future after the wedding event.

Also,we want you to know that we are having two locations for the wedding in the same area, that is from the church to the reception,as soon as we have the wedding locations we will have the full information sent to you for future reference.Get back to us here with the price for your service(four hours) so that we can have further discussions in calculation.The city where the wedding ceremony/reception is taking place is college park, GA and the ceremony starts by 12pm.

Best Regards

My reply was … “You do realize I know you’re a scammer?”
Let’s see what canned response that will get!

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47 Neil vN January 13, 2013 at 12:26 am

Funny thing this … I emailed this guy back to ask him if he realized I knew he was a scammer, and he shot back with:

“Never and ever in your life call me that again..bitch”

And then I decided to Google their names, and sure enough, they do come up with other photographers also immediately pegging them as scammers. And *I* am the bitch?

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48 Trev January 13, 2013 at 12:48 am

Neil, how do they get to scam?

I have had a couple of what seemed to be bogus inquiries, but I don’t understand how they can gain from it requesting information, mine seemed to be competitors wanting to know my pricing structure.

Seems to be a large waste of time on their part and I may be naive but don’t comprehend the end game they are after.

Trev

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49 Neil vN January 13, 2013 at 12:58 am

A few of the recent ones I could trace directly back to two specific listing sites.
These are easy places to get loads of names from all over a vast region.

The usual scam is that they over-pay you via a money order. You’re then supposed to pay the difference to the DJ or some other vendor (who would be the scammer in actuality), and then when the fraudulent money order is discovered by the bank, you’re out by the “over-paid” amount you paid to the other people.

The give-away is usually that they are very willing to send you money. You just need to send them a quote. No request to see your portfolio or such. They are in a hurry to start the transaction.

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50 Trev January 13, 2013 at 6:21 am

ahhh, I see. Thanks for the info.

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51 Christine January 15, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Hi Neil,

I found your blog after typing “Steven McCurry & Jennifer Ronald” into google. I also recieved that email and was checking into it. With all my previous transactions I’ve used Paypal without meeting the couple and it has worked out. Is this something they can do with Paypal? Pay you too much and then ask for a refund?

Thanks,

Christine

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52 Neil vN January 16, 2013 at 1:22 am

Christine … you could try using Paypal, but absolutely do NOT refund any over-payment. It’s a guarantee that you will be scammed off that portion of the money.

Paypal has no qualms in refunding money and pulling money out of your account.

That said .. try asking for a Paypal payment. I doubt the scammers would go for that, simply because it doesn’t fall under their regular way of operating.

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53 Neil vN May 22, 2013 at 12:00 am

A new one just rolled in. Notice that you have to give them your zip code.

Hello,

i’m Freddie Marion,

Fortunately for me to locate your mail as a professional photographer that could be hired for my birthday ceremony.

kindly let me know how much you charge for 2hrs show and what is your zip code and also let me know if you will be available to render service for me on the 20th of June,2013.

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54 Bill Cornelius September 6, 2013 at 1:08 am

Got another scam e-mail this week:

Hello there, This is Diana Frost.I just want to confirm if you can come for my Daughter wedding shoot which is going to hold on 05 October 2013.Let me know if you are available for the shoot.
Best Regard,
Diana

My first thought was scam, but realizing there was an outside chance it was a real local prospect, I answered the e-mail to find out the location. When I found out the wedding was in Des Moines (I’m in Alabama) I knew it was a scam and simply responded that it was to far to travel. Then I got her offer to pay all my travel expenses.

Nope, if its to good to be true its to good to be true.

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55 Trev February 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Here is another name for the list. Martin John

I got the email and replied to see what it would be, yep, the old Credit Card payment offer upfront, and even as I am typing this another 2 emails come in stating the same thing. Must be keen to give me money.

Original email below this reply he just sent.

I had asked him when/where, did not respond of course to that.

———————
Hi,
Thanks for your reply back, I am hearing impaired that is why am using via e-mail to contact you now and this is the wedding details below:

Bride Name: Lisa Smith
Groom Name: James John
Wedding date: April 25th
Time: 1pm-6pm
Duration hours: 5hours
Reception Location: Only

full package of 5hours service with albums for the photo service to cover only the (reception hall) start from 1pm to 6pm,I will be expecting your reply back with the total cost for that and i can give you my credit card to charge $800 as deposit payment to secure you down for the event day…..Thanks.
——————————————–

On 22/02/14 4:28 PM, Martin John wrote:
> Hello,
>
> This is Martins, i will like to know if you are
available for son wedding photographer service and
what area do you serve too.
>
> Thanks.

Reply

56 Rick Idak November 2, 2014 at 8:03 am

I am glad to have come across this forum/website. This sort of shit happens all over the world. I was sent an email if I was interested in teaming up with another videographer as he had too much event coverage work to do on his own.

I said sure and went to his home. (A rented apartment in a exculsive suburb). To my surprise there was 5 other photographers/videographers there for the same thing. As I shoot mostly company web videos, training and safety films and other mundane subjects. I was hoping to shoot more evening event stuff, Stage Shows,festivals, catwalks, etc.

Just before this I had to shoot a film for a Abattoir I didn’t know what I got myself into. I had to shoot from the farms with the livestock to the supermarket and to your plate. Well recording the electricution and seeing the animal hang upside on a hook and still swaying and kicking was too much. Then the butchering etc. 2 weeks after I still have the smell of faeces and blood and everything else in mind and taste.

So the thought of events like fashion and all appealed. He didn’t want to see anyones portfolio. I bought my laptop with event stuff and also corporate films, music videos and indie films I shot. He quickly went into how he had all these clients (named all the biggest department stores, celebrities, corporations etc) But he needed $7000 from each of us to set up a studio. As his clients were so rich and successful that really they would only look at us, if we had a real flashy studio fitted with all the great furniture and equipment.

One of the photographers said he was in Australia only 2 months. He said he was working long hours and saving hard to buy a good camera like a Canon 5D mk3. He was a photographer in India and wanted so badly to do that here. This shyster said how much are they. What ever price the Indian fellow quoted for whatever camera Nikon or Canon he said he was so well connected he could get 40% off that.

I smelled a rat.

But the others wanted to join as they were desperate to get connected in this super competitive industry. So I insisted on a couple of these event jobs as a test to see if we can all work together and help each other. (No good if we end up parting ways or something else). He panicked and gave the usual bullshit of he has so many people wanting to jump in on this once in a lifetime bullshit story. So I said oh good then I’m happy, as I was so worried he would be let down if I pulled out.

He then called us all to meet him at a after party celebrity do. We all came. He then said it wasn’t a paid gig, as he wanted to see our work and something he would know we actually did. Instead of uploading someone else’s and claiming ownership to that work.

During the shoot he kept bugging me about the investment money and that the others are all in except me. I said lets do some jobs together and then we can get the money as we all would feel more secure. He then grabbed my arm and angrly said. My partner needs the money now his waiting for me as we don’t want to lose this opportunity because of you (meaning me).

After the gig. I had all the lighting, rigs and set ups (I bought my own for a reason) I asked the others (future victims) If they would mind helping me take all my gear to my van. They all carried something and I loaded up. I was going to hold all them there, and tell them about my suspicion. To my surprise we all the same time came out how we all felt and each then told their story when this prick was alone with them. At one part of the night he asked a photographer to follow a particular well to do actor. He told that photographer to try and shoot some scandel. Like him kissing another woman, falling down drunk etc. The photographer another poor migrant said that he didn’t want trouble with the law and or be sued. The prick shyster then said (exact words sorry for bad language) “Fuck him, I have so much money.” I can fight him in court and I don’t give a fuck if I lose or win”.

Afterwards he told me (By the way I have been in the business 30 years, That me not this prick) that the others looked up to me and I could convince them to invest. Because they would trust me. (remember before he said the others were all in but me already, then he had so much money)

Oh well I hope no one else gets taken. I have already spread the story around my city and i do know a lot of people.

Look out beware, asks questions, do research. get it in a legal contract. Think and think again.

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57 Neil vN November 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

The latest is from “Mr Leon”.

This was sent to various email addresses that I have, and not just the email address on my wedding photography website. That’s an immediate red flag – he’s working off an email list, not via my website.

My name is Leon Wilson i will like to know if you can cover my daughter’s wedding my coming up on the 15th of November so i want you to get back to me if you are available and i will like to know if you accept credit card for payment.

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58 Neil vN February 13, 2015 at 1:25 am

Here’s a new one:

From: Larry wolfe
Subject: Reunion Photography
Date: February 12, 2015 at 8:33:46 PM EST
To: neil
Reply-To: wolfe147@yahoo.com


Hi
This is Larry , How are you doing today ? I will like to know if you
available this March 6.. just a four hours service, also i will need
portrait work, after the photography work is done. after the
event….i will also like to know if you accept credit card payments ?

Here are the signs that this is a scam:

1. The odd grammar. For example: “will like to know”

2. No venue or location mentioned.

3. The don’t ask about the costs and fees – they just want to make sure they can give you money.

4. The FROM and REPLY-TO email addresses don’t correspond.

Reply

59 Neil vN February 15, 2015 at 5:09 am

I did reply to Larry Wolf, and again there is every sign this is a scam.

He avoids telling me where the photo shoot is. Still no interest in the fees – he just wants to give me money.

Also notice how he has an excuse why he can’t talk on the phone. That’s also a sure give-away.

Thanks for the email. I just had an hearing surgery and I have been advised to stay off the phone till i’m fully recovered That is why I am contacting you via email and text for now.
am looking for March 6 by 2pm, but i don’t know maybe the date is open, if the date is open with you that would be okay, also what is your accurate cost for 4 hours service ?
event name… Family Reunion
I want and portrait of my family photograph of this size below 8×10 11×14
16×20 10 pcs of each size ,Such a picture portrays the feelings of unity of the family
and would be held right here in the state ..
Owner’s/Manager’s Name :
Cell Phone # (So i can text you) :
Type of credit Card Accepted :

Wolfe

——————————————–
On Thu, 2/12/15, Neil van Niekerk wrote:

Subject: Re: Reunion Photography
To: wolfe147@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, February 12, 2015, 10:14 PM

Hi there Larry

Yes, I am available for that date.

What would the deliverables be?
Also, where is the location?

Neil vN

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60 Neil vN March 6, 2015 at 1:05 am

I received an email inquiry from someone who wanted to rent my studio … for music. Not photography, but music. I have no idea how someone who saw my page on studio rental, would think it is a music studio.

In any case, the email bears all the marks of being a scam, even down to the excuse for why they can’t do this via phone. It’s a trend – the phone line is out, or the other person is deaf.

Clearly it’s not just photographers who are approached with these kinds of scams.

OK…I apologies for not forwarding my phone number or speak with you directly on phone. I do not have a land line and my mobile is currently out of order. I too am hoping it will be fixed soon as waiting conformation from the mobile company. I am sorry for the frustration this may cause. I will update you when fixed. I am coming there for rehearsal, i will be making use of the studio for 5-hours per day, for a 3 days starting from March 23th, 2015 at any times of the day for 3 days, just a singing group, 4 people with drummers, drummer will bring cymbals, sticks, bass drum pedal, and snare. Please tell me your total cost for ten hour block.

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61 Riekert March 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Hi all

I received an enquiry and after a few mails back and forth he still won’t give me the venue details…What do you think?

——-

“Good day to you,

Im looking for a general quote for photography. 1 photographer. its a little complicated so bare with me.

May 1st- 3rd in Durban
I would need a photographer to fly down to Durban on the 1st May evening- the wedding will be on Saturday and you can fly out on Sunday. Flights and accommodation will be supplied by us
obviously we need the bridal make-up, family gathering and events on Saturday and reception to be shot plus any other things you think will make for good photos. 

May 9
full day shoot in cape town- includes a few locations in cape town, and reception from boys side near the waterfront.

Basically im looking for a general total figure for photography with images on disc only. Photobooks etc will be discussed after wedding, and will be over and above the general total figure.

I hope this makes sense?

Im currently away and only receive emails- i need to finalize this in the next 3 days

thanks”
—————

Other gems include:

——————
“Thats fine then give me a quote based on not knowing how much you going to shoot, more a maximum figure cos its up in 
the air, if you feel at the end of it you charged to much, you can give me a discount .”
——————-

What do you think?

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62 Neil vN April 29, 2015 at 11:26 am

And here we are now – they are texting us. Same pattern though.
The same tell-tale signs, for example: i will like to

I texted him back to see if he would chat on the phone, bating him to fall into the routine of being deaf and unable to talk on the phone – but I did get to briefly chat to “camron brice” on the phone. He insisted he is in Atlanta, and originally from Texas. The phone number has a Texas area code, but his accent was not American – not that mine is – and he had difficulty understanding me on the phone.

He wasn’t concerned about me charging extra to fly down to Atlanta to shoot this. Warning flag!
And then … the venue doesn’t accept credit cards. Could he pay me more and I pay the venue in turn?

And there we have it. It’s a scam. As was obvious from the start.

This is from his phone number: (432) 242-5320

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63 Toni Biberstine April 30, 2015 at 7:55 pm

On Apr 17, 2015, at 6:12 AM, TIm webber wrote:

Hello my name is Tim Webber. I will like to know your availability day in May, 2015 just for 4 hours service, also i will need portrait work done after the photography work is done after the event. I will like you to get back to me with your availability day in May, its a family reunion party. And also do you accept credit card payment?

Regards,
Tim.

 

On Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 12:01 PM, Toni Biberstine wrote:
What day in May? I do accept cc payments.

Toni

 

On Apr 17, 2015, at 8:43 AM, TIm webber wrote:

Good to hear from you, I’m an hearing-impaired and i am looking for 16th or 17th of May, but i don’t know maybe the date is open, if the date is open with you that would be okay, also what is your accurate cost for 4 hours service? I will be giving you the name and the address of the event, it’s one of my worker’s that refer you to me that you can help handle my family reunion party photography service. Also, what type of card do you accept?

Photo size i want, get back to me with the accurate cost.
4×6
5×7
8×10
11×14
16×20 and 7 portrait of my family

Regards,
Tim.

 

On Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 2:03 PM, Toni Biberstine wrote:
Hi Tim,

I don’t actually print the pictures. I take pictures, edit, and place them all on a CD. I’ve found printing prices are cheaper for my clients You can use services such as, vista print, shutterfly, etc. Will I be traveling? I accept all types of credit. I ask that the payment is paid in full, two weeks prior to the event. Depending on travel, and the location, I will want to know this before I send you a quote. I have either day open at this time.

Thank you,
Toni

 

On Apr 17, 2015, at 5:47 PM, “TIm webber” wrote:

The venue address is Roseburg Event Center. 2983 W 38th St Marion, IN. 2-6 pm is the time for the Event. I look forward to read from you soon.

Regards,
Tim.

 

On Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 11:58 PM, Toni Biberstine wrote:
For an event such as a family reunion, I could take up to any arrangement of families. For four hours, for this, my charge would be $400.00. Let me know what your thoughts are.
Again, Thank you!

Toni

 

On Apr 18, 2015, at 12:22 PM, “TIm webber” wrote:

Thank you so much for your full package of services and i really appreciate you for taking your time to elaborate them to me. I am okay with the cost of your service. Does that include processing fee + tax because i would need you to do me little favor, i have a little issue with the payment of the venue, the event planner of the venue told me she doesn’t have a credit card machine so i will need you to do me the favor to add her fee together with your fee she has to receive $2500 for the booking of the venue so i will like you to get back to me with the total cost so that i can make the payment today. I’m also giving you a tip of $150 if you can do this for me.

Get back to me ASAP so that i can authorize the payment from my end.

Respectfully,
Tim.

 

On Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 10:42 PM, Toni Biberstine wrote:
Also a 7% sales tax on the total amount charged.

Toni

 

Hello Toni,

Thanks for your willingness and time over my Family Reunion Party….How much is the total cost plus the sales tax and for the cost of your service and the extra venue charges? What card processor do you use and i will need your cell phone number to enable me text you my credit card info for you to run the payments. Once the funds clears into your account, i will instruct you on how to forward their own funds to them.

Thank you and God Bless You.
Tim.

Reply

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