PHOTOGRAPHERS BEWARE! Have you ever come close to being scammed out of a couple thousand dollars? Fortunately for me my spidey senses went up and I was able to avoid being ripped off by a would be bride.
Recently I received a wedding inquiry from a someone named Veronica Hurtado (email@example.com) who had a backyard wedding planned a couple of months from the date of her inquiry. As it happened I had the date available and I replied inquiring about her needs and what services I could provide for her.
Her response was very detailed. She line item ed out the exact amount of hours, album type, she wanted unlimited images captured, etc. I sent her my quote with a contract and she agreed stating that the fee and contract would be mailed immediately.
A few days later I received another email from her claiming that she was hearing impaired and that she and her fiance were currently out of the country, in Canada, on vacation. She wanted me to talk to someone here via phone to confirm things closer to the wedding. I replied and told her that was fine, actually preferred on my end and I’d be more than happy to do so. This email however, aroused some suspicion on my end.
Several days later and I received THE email. Veronica claimed that the person handling the funds had mistakenly sent too much money and requested that once I received the check that I cut a check for the difference and send it to an address she had listed in her email.
I had a similar experience about 5 years ago and that email was the nail in the coffin for me. At this point I replied and told her that I was no longer comfortable with this transaction and would not be able to photograph her wedding.
Veronica responded and said that it was not a problem and just to shred the check when it arrived. The check finally came in and was very obviously a fake check, even to an untrained eye like mine.
I wasn’t surprised by her lack of emotion that her photographer just cancelled on her practically right before the wedding and finally decided to do a web search on her email address. I don’t know why I didn’t google her email address before but at this point just out of curiosity, I cut and pasted her email into google and whatd’ya know….this wasn’t her first rodeo! Why was I not shocked?
Some of the other photographers that received the same or similar attempted scam by this woman blogged about their experience as well.
Brian Vogel Photography: http://weddingsbybvp.com/new-photography-scam/ - and -
There was actually quite a lot of them on Google Search. Sad really. I hope the word gets out and that no one falls prey to these losers trying to steal others hard earned money.
Around 5 years ago I had a similar experience except the person sending the inquiry was currently in London and supposedly had a wedding coordinator here in the US getting things ready. They over paid as well however, that one sent Postal Service Money Orders that looked so real I drove them to the Post Office. The postmaster took a few minutes to review them before admitting that they were indeed counterfeit. They were very good fakes.
Going forward I think I’ll head over to Google to begin with if I feel at all uncomfortable and hopefully avoid even spending the time to reply to a scam wedding photography inquiry. I think the lesson here is to always listen to your sixth sense. If something doesn’t feel right. It probably isn’t!