A new scam wedding enquiry is doing the rounds amongst UK photographers. The email comes from James Greety (firstname.lastname@example.org), supposedly a Canadian man from Canada who wants to hire you to shoot their wedding in London.
The text in the email goes something like this:
We need your service as our wedding photographer. Can you please tell me how much you charge for wedding? I mean i want to know about the packages you have for wedding and their prices?
Waiting for your answer about the prices, so i can give you more details.
When I received this enquiry my first thought was ‘not my ideal client’, but I did reply with a quick two sentence email to state my starting price, just in case it was from a normal person despite all the signs of not being a genuine enquiry. After having replied, I forgot the whole email and didn’t even bother entering it into my booking system.
(A side note: I reply with a personalised, long email to every genuine enquiry, and also enter them to my booking system. That way, I get a reminder in a few days to check whether the person has received my reply [in case I haven’t heard back from them by then]. I use software to track my second email to them to inform me whether the email has been opened or not. If they open it and don’t reply, I can safely tag that enquiry as cancelled and not waste any of my time with it. I leave a record of the enquiry in my booking system, so that I know my booking rate from all received enquiries.)
Fast forward two weeks and I get an email from ‘James Greety’ again. This time the email has a long story including details of how many years him and his wife, as well as their daughter and her fiancée (sic), have lived back and forth in the UK and Canada. Also, all of a sudden, turns out the wedding is his daughter’s. It also says at least twice in the email that they are willing to pay for my travel to the wedding whatever it costs, they just want to hire me for the wedding. And that they want to give me a deposit ASAP to secure the booking.
There were so many alarm bells in this second email that this time I googled it and saw immediately that this is a known scammer. I have seen on various forums online this week that a few photographers have not realised that this is a scam, and have been corresponding with this “James Greety” for several emails and agreed to book the wedding even, until at last minute started to smell a rat and posted on a photographers’ forum to ask others.
I won’t detail all the exact tell-tale “scam signs” in the second email in this post because that would teach these criminals how to make their emails more difficult to identify as attempted fraud. If you’d like to know all the other signs in order to avoid ever falling for a scam enquiry, send me an email to Katariina at PhotoBizBooster dot com and I’ll send you a list of all the tell-tale signs that you can look out for in future.
The way this type of scam works is that they ask to pay you a deposit to secure the booking. They pay with a fake/invalid cheque which is written for much larger sum of money than asked. They then claim that they overpaid by mistake and ask you to pay some of the money back to them with an instant money transfer. And if you do, you have just sent free money to a fraudster – just before you hear from your bank that the cheque is fake/hasn’t cleared.
So never forget: if an enquiry seems like too good to be true (“don’t worry about cost, we’ll pay you anything” – it most likely is too good to be true.