Watch out for scams targeting photographers and other creatives

January 20, 2019

This is a short PSA with some links to more information.  Many a scam has tried to target myself and pretty much every other photographer out there.  We might joke often that if you receive the scam requests, you know you've "arrived."  However, most often, the scams I see are the simple ones.  

For example, Scammer emails or texts asking to set up a photography session or wedding.  The language used is often choppy and just plain sounds strange.  Usually, they'll ask up front or very early on in the conversation if you take credit cards.  If you tell them you don't, they'll try to get you to sign up with some credit card vendor they like.  Basically, it all boils down to no matter the amount of money you tell them you charge, they say they'll pay it plus another $2k or so.  You're supposed to take this "extra" money and give it, in cash, to the supposed event planner or caterer or whatever, who doesn't take credit cards.  See where I'm going with this?  If you follow through on it, you'll run this card for several thousand dollars, pay out some cash, then later the card comes back stolen and you end up being subject to holding the very large bag.  You're out the full amount you charged to that credit card plus the cash you handed over.

However, scammers are always learning from their mistakes.  The first scam email like this that I received of this type was trying to get me to cover a family reunion that was slated to take place at this specific restaurant venue in St. Louis.  Since this was the first one I'd seen, red flags were flying but I wasn't so sure it was a scam just yet.  However, I Just so happened that I know the owner.  I messaged her and asked if she had any such reservation, but of course, she did not.  I confronted the scammers but they never responded.  After that, the scam requests I got would then largely not be specific about a venue and those that were, often made huge mistakes in naming their venues.  They are often very vague about details and often will supposedly be planning their family reunion or wedding or whatever, around the photographer's schedule.  What!?

So, my point.  There are some more sophisticated and rather newer scams and a form of identity theft going around.  These scams have not targeted me and I doubt they ever will, simply due to the type of photography I do and don't do.  But knowledge is key and so I share the information in the hopes of helping other creatives out there avoid these schemes.

Please see the following link:

Hunting the Con Queen of Hollywood: Who's the "Crazy Evil Genius" Behind a Global Racket?

Personal accounts:

How an Elaborate International Scam is Making the Rounds Among Instagrammers & Photographers

Travel Scam Alert: I Was Victim to an International Travel Photographer Scam in Indonesia

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