How I almost got scammed as a photographer

I have been blessed with great clients and honest people for my entire photography career until recently…

I feel that I am a kind, genuine and honest person myself. I had this man email me about photographing a family reunion. Here is the email…

 

“Hi.. how are you doing today my name is James..do you offer photography service also do you accept credit cards?”

thanks,
James.

 

First off, I thought it was strange he asked me if I offered photography services considering photography is in my email address and right off asking me if I accept credit cards

 

My response..

Hey James

Yes, I am a photographer. What are you interested in? I do accept credit cards. Let me know how I can help you.

Thanks,
Sarah

 

He responded by..

Hi Sarah,

Thank you for your timely response My wife came across your timeline on FACEBOOK …My family reunion will be taking place at my home in Knoxville, Tn, on the 28th and 29th of May. 3pm-8pm daily. Expected guest is around 40-50 guest and i want you to take care of the photography job at my family reunion and i will need portrait work done after the photography
1) i want my guest photos in a book/album or CD
2) separate portraits for my family members : (Sabrina,Kathy,Dennis and Joey)
3) Just walk around and get pictures of the party
get back to me if you have availability on the above dates and if yes send me a quote for both dates and i can make full payment with my credit card ..
Thank you,
James.

It seems like a pretty real email, but there is a RED FLAG, he is pretty eager to pay for this right away. Usually people want to talk with me over the phone and they want to tell me a lot of detail. I also wasn’t thrilled to go to a stranger’s house alone, so my husband agreed to go with me.

James,

I would be happy to photograph your reunion. For me being there both dates from 3-8. I would charge $____. That would include all the photos I take on a flash drive. It takes me a couple of weeks to edit everything, but I can post some on Facebook. Let me know more about the location and anymore detail about the event.

Thanks

Sarah

 

His response and here is where it got weird..

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 $50 as tip for your assistance, Bear with me I will be authorizing and responsible for all the charges on my credit card.
Below is the breakdown of the charges you will be running on my credit card:
Photo-shoot :$___ 
Event Planner : $2000
Tip: $50
CC Charges: 3.5%
Thank you

 

I had to read this 3x to make sure I understood it. When I showed my husband, he explained to me that if I ran that credit card and then wrote a check to this “coordinator” and that credit card came up stolen I would be out $2,000. At first I was very confused and I kinda understood what the guy was asking, but there are so many questions I had…

First, what kind of event planner charges $2,000 but doesn’t accept credit cards?

How was this my problem to pay the planner?

and If he can’t take the stress WHY IS HE PLANNING A HUGE REUNION??

So my VERY SMART husband told me what to say..

Hey James

Because of the large amount, I would need a picture of the credit card that you are using and a picture of you holding your ID.

Can you also give me the event coordinator’s contact information?

Thanks
Sarah

 

It has been several days and he hasn’t responded. Normally, he responds within a day. so it is a SCAM! I researched it and this has happened to several people!  I do hope this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does DON’T FALL FOR IT. Here are some other links I found about this same scam!

http://neilvn.com/tangents/how-scammers-are-targeting-photographers/

and

http://blog.photoshelter.com/2011/02/4-scams-that-target-photographers/

Stay safe and happy shooting!

Sarah