I promote my photographic services on a number of different sites where people are searching for a photographer for weddings or other events. So, like many other businesses promoting their services online, there’s the potential to run into an internet scam.
Came across the second scam in as many years just the other day. This one from some person using the name Neil Datina.
“Hello I will like to confirm if you can shoot a wedding event on the 22nd of November 2011? Please get back to me. at… “
Not a lot of detail, so my response was to ask for more information about the wedding. Got a reply a couple days later:
“Hello, Thanks so much for the swift response, can you please let me know if there is any contract to sign ? and also I will like to know how much i need to pay as initial deposit to get the reserved by you. Cos I want you to send me a contract, you can send me your name and address for me to make arrangement and send you a check for the initial deposit. I would have called you but am physically impaired (Hearing Impaired). Concerning the flight and the hotel accommodation with the car you are to hire, I have my booking agent , he will take care of that from here and get everything done for you and will send you the booking details once the booking has been made. I will like you to send me how much you will charge for the event alone. Here is the location address that the event will take place. 3333 South Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80222 and I plan for everyone to arrive by the 24th. Please get back to me soonest. Best Regards”
Notice no name left on the end of either of these e-mails. And now a change of date, and ready to sign a contract immediately without knowing the costs of my services. And no way to reach him except e-mail. Scam radar went on high alert!
So I googled Neil Datina and was shocked (Shocked!) to find that he’s tried pull this on other photographers. What would happen? He books the date, signs a contract and sends a “money order” (fake) for more than the cost of the event and asks you to cash it and send the balance back. Classic mail scam.
Last year I had a similar experience, which seemed (slightly) plausible, for a birthday party shoot. That guy even sent me a photo of his “family” who were Belgian, but living in Egypt and moving to New York where they wanted me to photograph the party–got all that? I followed that one to the point where they sent the fraudulent money order, called him out on it–and then alerted the FBI. Not that doing so does any good in catching these guys.
As the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true. . .