Over-payment scam / Family reunion scam
“Son of a Bitch.”
Scammers are so touchy. Geeze. I am trying to do him a favor, and then he curses me out.
Now, if you are unsure what just happened in that conversation, hang in there …
How the over-payment scam works
This is a well known scam called the over-payment scam. It comes in many forms, and isn’t limited to just the “family reunion”. It can be a wedding or any other event. Also, this isn’t limited to the photography world.
The scammer will ask you your fees, and then tell you a story that the florist or planner (or whoever) can’t take credit card payment. The scammer will then ask if he can pay you extra, so that you can forward the excess amount to the florist / planner (who is actually the scammer).
Well, the money the scammer is paying YOU will be from a fraudulent card or some fraudulent way. Keep in mind the money is not real. However, the money that you pay to the florist / planner (who is actually the scammer), is real money.
By the time the money you collected are pulled from your bank account (because it is a fraudulent transaction after all), your very real payment to the scammer has gone through. You have no money that went into your account, but the money you paid out is very real. And you just lost it. Thus you are out of pocket by $800 or $1200 or $1500.
This scam relies 100% on them over-paying you. The scammer will even offer to pay you extra in addition to your usual fee, to entice you.
How we know this is a scam
You may well wonder how we immediately know this is a scam. There is a certain pattern to the phrasing, but especially because they are very eager to throw money at you, and immediately ask whether you take credit card. They don’t even ask if you are available, or ask to see a portfolio. None of the usual ways a potential client would connect with you first.
The phrase “family reunion” already set my warning signals off.
It’s just one of those standard things that scammers default to. Also the request for 16×20 prints. After a while you can recognize a scam just by the phrasing. Another dead giveaway would be the phrase: “I will like to…”
Why I offered to photograph the event for free
By saying I want to photograph this for free, it doesn’t give him a hook to scam me. The scam works by luring people into accepting the OVER-payment. But by insisting on doing this for free, I am subverting the scam.
This is the only way to respond to them, imho. I can easily waste their time forever with this, without getting upset. And I can effortlessly maintain any conversation with them like this. I just have to keep on insisting photographing the event for free.
He never replied further to my text messages. No more fun to be had. He realized all too quickly that he was busted.
Just know there is no client here. It’s just you and the scammer. No potential work. No opportunity. And most definitely no money to be made.
- Photography scam / how photographers are scammed
- E-mail scammers targeting photographers
- How scammers are trying to rip photographers off
6 Comments, Add Your Own
1Johan Schmidt says
Classic! Thanks for the heads up
2Bertrand van der Berg says
Looks like these scams are getting more common recently. I had a few tries in the last two months.
3David Bruno says
Yep. This was attempted on me a few times when I was starting out. I didn’t know how the scam worked, but there is no way anyone will offer to pay you extra without something fishy going. I actually just had it happen to me – I was selling a table saw on Craigslist, and got a full-price offer + $50 to hold it. The person wanted my name, address, email, and phone number, but didn’t ask for my account number. I simply asked him for his name, address, and phone number just to be safe. Never heard from again.
4John Peltier says
I had this exact same scenario a couple years ago and it took me a while to figure out…thankfully I did before taking any money.
But a couple weeks ago I had someone try to book me for some very aggressive aerial photography work to document the construction of a new apartment building. Like they wanted me all day, every day, for weeks, to try to pump the fees way up.
Well, I called the realtor who had the lot listing and sure enough, he said, “the lot still for sale, no one is building anything there!”
Thanks for spreading the word!
5David Guffey says
Neil, in an effort to let folks know, there is another variant of this scam that involves counterfeit cashiers checks.
I ran into it a few years back when I was trying to sell a boat. The fraudsters call you over the internet or send you an email saying they want to buy your item for x amount over the listing price. In my case they said they had mistakenly written the amount and it was their last check. What makes this one different is that they go to the trouble to send out the cashiers check via fed ex. My guys were so energetic that I wound up getting two checks. Anyway, their instructions were after I cashed the check, I was supposed to send the excess funds to their agent, who was coming to pick up the boat.
Now mind you, they went to a lot of trouble to make it look legit. The fed ex delivery, and the checks were drawn on a real U.S. bank.
But an FBI agent and bank manager instructed me that under no circumstances should I present those checks for payment. They warned me that if I did, and when the cashiers check was fully routed through the ACH, in about 30 days, and found to fraudulent, my bank accounts would be frozen and I would be arrested for bank fraud.
Moral, cashiers checks are not to be trusted any more. No matter what.
6william carter says
Hey Neil. Talk about a photo scam. I had reflectors i only wanted $250.00 for. The buyer was going to send me $50.00 deposit. He then sent two money orders totaling $1900.00. I was to keep the $250.00 and send him the rest as his assistant, i was told sent too much money. Yeah. Ok. Like i’m going to send him back $1650.00. I guess somebody else may have. But this person telegraphed it perfectly.