A well-known photography scam is making the rounds again, attempting to prey on desperate photographers who have been out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you receive a suspicious request from a potential “client,” followed by “overpayment” of your fee, don’t fall for it!
The scam was brought to light in a Reddit post by u/laddphoto, who wanted to take the opportunity to warn fellow photographers who maybe hadn’t heard of it before.
“As a long-time professional photographer, I’ve seen many similar scams over the years,” they write, “but since I just received one this morning, I thought I would share in case others are not aware of their existence.”
It goes something like this:
- A potential client reaches out with a vague request
- You reply asking for more details
- You receive a long-winded reply—sometimes fairly coherent, sometimes not—detailing a job for which they’d like to hire you and asking for your rates
- You reply with your rates
- Without further preamble, you receive a check in the mail for way more than the quoted rate
- The “client” says this was a mistake, and that you should forward all or part of that money to a different “vendor” that got your check by accident.
- The original check bounces, and you’re out however much money you were asked to forward.
We’ve seen this scam on multiple occasions before, and while the email the u/laddphoto received is chock full of red flags (it’s downright comical) that’s not always the case. Last year, a wedding photographer was scammed out of $4,600 using the playbook detailed above.
Normally we wouldn’t point out the same scam twice—three times actually—but given the current state of the industry, we felt it was important to share. Many photographers are struggling and desperate for work, making it easier to ignore red flags you might otherwise spot in an instant.
Remember: if a potential “client” ever sends you a payment that is “accidentally” larger than it should be and asks you to forward part of that payment to another vendor, this is a scam commonly referred to as an “overpayment” or “advance-fee” scam. The details vary from story to story, but the outcome is always the same. Don’t fall for it.