Photographers: be aware of E-Scams

Most Photographers know about them, but for those who have never gotten one, here is what we do: Whenever we receive a weird-suspicous kind of email resquesting photo services, we go immediately to google, type any address, name from it and check if anyone else has had received one of them. Usually, we are right, and can read in any photography related forum that someone else has received similar “emails”…  Trust your guts, don’t be fooled.

Here is the email we received a couple days ago:

PHOTO SERVICE REQUEST

Greetings!
My name is Joe and my wife’s name is Pamela, we live and work as wine sellers(wholesale/retail) in England and China and will be relocating to the State of New Jersey, USA on the 12th of October,2010.

I came across your contact information on the internet after my online search for a photographer and I hereby write to request if you will be available to offer 4hours of photographic services for the celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary on our arrival to the States. Myself,my wife,my lovely daughter-Debbie and about 12 family members and friends will be present.

Could you please provide answers to these questions if you are interested in this offer

1)Will you be available to provide this service on any date between October 15th and 20th? if so what precise date will be fine for you so as to include this in our plan?
2)What is your address location in New Jersey so as to estimate how close you are to us ?

Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on my phone no: +447405591742               +447405591742 

Regards,
Joe Akins
27 Camberwell Green,
London, SE5 7AN

We found this same email with different addresses on it. As you can see, ours is from somone located in “London” (the address is actually from Haart, a  Realtor Company) whereas other colleagues have gotten the exact same but from some country in Africa, Asia, etc.

Al Ojeda Photography

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58 thoughts on “Photographers: be aware of E-Scams

  1. Ha! Ha!

    I got the same email. Verbatim, except that in mine they are visiting Massachusetts…

    Just got 10 minutes ago, it as a matter of fact… I am about to respond that he can use paypal to book any day of the week, and I will work around their schedule. Will ask him to pay up front $500.00.

    The only reason I got suspicious is that the email he sent me was through my commercial site — not the wedding/portrait/functions site. Plus, checking on my visitors, I have not had anyone from the UK visiting any of my sites this past week.

    Going to blog about it and twit too.

    — Andreas

  2. Yes, I also received this email. He says he is visiting VA, where I live. He wants my address. If it was real, he would have said, I will be in such and such city. Can you cover that area?

    Regards,
    Van

    • Virginia is pretty big… 😉
      As we mentioned, we saw this scam on photography forums… as far as we can remember, some posted on forums from November 2009… the same exact scam but from “different locations” to photographers located also in different States…
      Best,
      Ida and Al

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Photographers: be aware of E-Scams « Al Ojeda Photography -- Topsy.com

  4. I got the same email. I received it twice. I deleted the first one right away because I believe that if he was from London, he would know the proper grammar for the English language. (“I hereby write to request if you will be available…”) The second time I decided to look up his name and address. I found him here! Thanks for getting the word out.

    Aly

  5. I got this email too. Thank you for posting this!

    “Greetings!
    My name is Joe and my wife’s name is Pamela, we live and work as wine sellers(wholesale/retail) in England and China and will be relocating to the State of California, USA on the 12th of October,2010.

    I came across your contact information on the internet after a search for a professional photographer and I hereby write to request if you will be available to offer 4hours of photographic services for the celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary on our arrival to the States. Myself,my wife,my lovely daughter-Debbie and about 12 family members and friends will be present.

    Could you please provide answers to these questions if you are interested in this offer

    1)Will you be available to provide this service on any date between October 15th and 20th? if so what precise date will be fine for you so as to include this in our plan?
    2)What is your address location in California so as to estimate how close you are to us ?

    Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on my phone no: +447405591742

    Regards,
    Joe Akins
    27 Camberwell Green,
    London, SE5 7AN”

  6. I got the same one and I am a commercial photographer. I don’t even do engagement photos. Huge red flag.

    Greetings!
    My name is Joe and my wife’s name is Pamela, we live and work as wine sellers(wholesale/retail) in England and China and will be relocating to the State of California, USA on the 12th of October,2010.

    I came across your contact information on the internet after my online search for a photographer and I hereby write to request if you will be available to offer 4hours of photographic services for the celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary on our arrival to the States. Myself,my wife,my lovely daughter-Debbie and about 12 family members and friends will be present.

    Could you please provide answers to these questions if you are interested in this offer

    1)Will you be available to provide this service on any date between October 15th and 20th? if so what precise date will be fine for you so as to include this in our plan?
    2)What is your address location in California so as to estimate how close you are to us ?

    Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on my phone no: +447405591742

    Regards,
    Joe Akins
    27 Camberwell Green,
    London, SE5 7AN

  7. Wow, they get around. I just received the same letter for their visit to Tucson. I wonder what they are looking for. Thanks for posting this and keeping me from responding. Best wishes,

    Karen

  8. I am a professional photographer who specializes in equine and cultural photography. Although I’ve done a few weddings and several celebrations, it would be odd to receive an email like this, which I did today. Got the same email through my membership with Professional Photographer’s assoc. last year and they notified us of the scam. Have received similar emails a few times as well. I have to wonder WHY these people send emails like this as a scam? To gather info on us photographers or something else? Either way, good to know that “follow your gut instincts” is assisted by Google!

  9. I got the same email:
    ——————————

    From: joeakiins2000@gmail.com
    Subject: PHOTO SERVICE REQUEST
    Date: August 18, 2010 7:16:35 PM MST
    To: joeakiins2000@gmail.com

    Greetings!
    My name is Joe and my wife’s name is Pamela, we live and work as wine sellers(wholesale/retail) in England and China and will be relocating to the State of Arizona, USA on the 12th of October,2010.

    I came across your contact information on the internet after my online search for a photographer and I hereby write to request if you will be available to offer 4hours of photographic services for the celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary on our arrival to the States. Myself,my wife,my lovely daughter-Debbie and about 12 family members and friends will be present.

    Could you please provide answers to these questions if you are interested in this offer

    1)Will you be available to provide this service on any date between October 15th and 20th? if so what precise date will be fine for you so as to include this in our plan?
    2)What is your address location in Arizona USA so as to estimate how close you are to us ?

    Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on my phone no: +447405591742

    Regards,
    Joe Akins
    27 Camberwell Green,
    London, SE5 7AN

  10. I received the email and my “red flag” went up immediately – especially after I quoted him a price and he immediately agreed graciously!

    He went as far as to send me an address of where to meet – which i found was a home for sale in the area… so they are probrably out to steal some innocent photographers equipment.

  11. I just received the same message a few minutes ago…except they were relocating to Kentucky. I immediately suspected it was a fishy story and it appears my suspicions were justified. Thanks for posting the warning.

  12. I got the same email, except they were coming to Florida!!! Thank you so much for the warning!!!

  13. Same email came to me. Seen a few of these from various avenues – Magazine reps, “found you on ModelMayhem”, blah, blah, blah…

    This one was close… grammar was close – the best of them to date. Almost got a reply.

    Thanks for the original post!

  14. I just got my “request”….

    I feel so special! I too am going to play along and see if I can have any fun. I’ll keep you all posted!

    BTW, my email was exactly like the others posted here (and exactly like the other Massachusetts based shooter).

    Thanks for the heads up!!

  15. You’re all wrong – they’re relocating to MICHIGAN.

    My Google results show they’re also looking for Therapists.

    Go figure.

  16. We just received this same message and a reply to the initial response made (before investigating and finding this site), so I included the reply for others to also see/compare.

    We also just received a 2nd separate apparent attempt through WeddingWire that I’ve also attached below. I am truly confused as to their end game. What could they hope to get out of this?

    Volunteering an international cashier’s check should flag anyone as “off”.

    ===================================
    Response to same message everyone else received:
    ===================================
    I think I should be a little elaborate about the kind of photographic service we need.Its going to be 4hours event coverage photography possibly 12pm – 4pm if this is good for you. The event will take place in one location and shots will be taken indoor and possibly outdoor in the yard if the weather is good. You will concentrate on me,my wife,my daughter,my father/mother in-law and my mother.You will take group shots of family members of about 16 people and 4 children aged between 4yrs & 6yrs.Style of photography required could be a combination of both candid and traditional.

    October 30th 2010 will be fine if this works for you, and if not then we can work out some other day.On arrival we will be located at 4481 South Iva Road, Merrill MI 48637.This is our house where the place where the event will take place.The price quote is very suitable. In order to hold my reservation,I will authorize payment to be mailed to you in US Cashiers Check by my associate over there in US after I am in receipt of your full names to whom the payment will be made out and your address/phone number where you can receive the mail.

    Looking forward to your prompt response

    Regards
    Joe

    =============================
    2nd / Separate WeddingWire attempt – Initial Contact
    =============================
    —– Original Message —–
    From: no-reply@weddingwire.com
    To: nicole@nicolepfeifferphotography.com
    Cc: wiliams.gibert@gmail.com
    Sent: Wednesday, September 01, 2010 11:10 AM
    Subject: williams gilbert would like information about your services!

    williams gilbert found your business directly on the vendor catalog and would like to know more about your services. Please respond to this lead within 24 hours. Here is the lead’s contact information:

    Name: williams gilbert
    Email: wiliams.gibert@gmail.com
    Phone: Not provided

    Wedding Date: Oct 29, 2010
    Location: Not provided

    Message:
    Please send me an email with information about your services.

    ~ Powered by DirectMatch(tm) ~

    =============================
    And the reply to our response verifying they’re legitimate:
    =============================
    My name is Williams Gilbert a citizen of US but am here in United Kingdom two weeks ago due to my work, (Networking) You can contact me at this number +447011137193 .. Actually my daughter and her fiance are deaf, She will be getting married soon in your location on October 29, 2010 at Adrian Bingo Halls: 427 West Maumee Street Adrian, MI .I am looking for a good photographer who will come and do the snap shots on D-day.I came across your listing on the web and am impressed with your services.I will like you to take care of the Photographs,All expenses would be taken care of;/perhaps you can give me the total/Quotes charges cost for the required services if you are to work for 4 Hours on that day from 10 am to 2 noon.

    1- 16×20 Gallery Wrap or Float Wrap
    2- 11×14 regular prints by you
    3- 8×10 regular prints by you
    4- 5×7 regular prints by you
    5- 12×12 Custom Leather Album

    Please I want the best services from you, because she is my only daughter so I want the best for her. So your best effort is needed at this occasion at the given time.We will select the best 60 copies of different snaps photos in both black and white color,in Two main sizes and dimensions 4×4 which is required for my daughter and her husband use at home.

    colored Snapped at the reception & church for the bride and the bridegroom,their parents, the officiating ministers and our guests, the church is very close to the reception, here is the church, Grace Covenant Church 719 West Maumee Street, Adrian, MI, I want the pictures neat and nice.However,I will be making the payment by means of a cashier Check. in your respond, get me the total/Quotes charges cost and your required service for 4 hrs .

    NOTE: DON’T ATTACHE ME A FILE OF THE QUOTE, BECAUSE I FOUND IT
    DIFFICULT TO OPEN A FILE ON MY PC,
    I look forward to your response.

    Best Regards

    Williams Gilbert
    +447011137193

  17. Yep. I got the same from Williams Gilbert in UK. I think I got a similar one last year.

    “Hello Sheila,

    Thanks for you mail, My name is Williams Gilbert a citizen of US butam here in United Kingdom two weeks ago due to my work, (Networking) You can contact me at this number +447011137193 .. Actually my daughter and her fiance are deaf, She will be getting
    married soon in your location on October 29, 2010 at Adrian Bingo Halls: 427 West Maumee Street Adrian, MI .I am looking for a good photographer who will come and do the snap shots on D-day.I came across your listing on the web and am impressed with your services.I will like you to take care of the Photographs,All expenses would be
    taken care of;/perhaps you can give me the total/Quotes charges cost for the required services if you are to work for 4 Hours on that day
    from 10 am to 2 noon.

    1- 16×20 Gallery Wrap of 2.5, 10 copies
    2- 11×14 regular prints by you, 10 copies
    3- 8×10 regular prints by you, 20 copies
    4- 5×7 regular prints by you, 20 copies
    5- 12×12 Custom Leather Album, 40 Pages
    6- 4 hours of service: {plus tax}

    Please I want the best services from you, because she is my only
    daughter so I want the best for her. So your best effort is needed at
    this occasion at the given time. make the different snaps photos in
    both black and white color,colored Snapped at the reception for bride
    and the bridegroom,their parents, the officiating ministers and our
    guests, the church is very close to the reception, I want the pictures
    neat and nice.Because we are planing to have it forwarded to the
    Publisher of a Magazine Company in U.S so they could feature it in
    their celebrity journal.However,I will be making the payment by means
    of a cashier Check. in your respond, get me the total/Quotes cost and
    your required service for 4 hrs, As stated .

    NOTE: DON’T ATTACHE ME A FILE OF THE QUOTE, BECAUSE I FOUND IT
    DIFFICULT TO OPEN A FILE ON MY PC, I look forward to your response.

    Best Regards

    Williams Gilbert
    +447011137193”

  18. Hmm, comparing mine to the one before- I notice they use 2 different places… who has unlimited funds but has their reception in a bingo hall ?!? Do you think the scam is to just get people to call the phone # ? An off-shore # charging hundreds of $’s/ min? I’ve heard of that before thru text msging.

    If they are looking to rob us why would they bring the oversees into play? Or is it like the Nigerian inheritance scheme? Weird.

    My response was merely, Sorry I don’t have Intn’l calling, but feel free to call me 🙂

  19. Upon reading more closely down the link posted above ^, i think my guess is correct. What else would be the motivation? By redirecting the call to who knows where, fraudulent telecommunication companies can charge us whatever they want. Good luck trying to fight that phone bill!

  20. Wow. Even after I reported msgs as spam, i got a response…

    “williams gibert to me
    show details 5:36 AM (6 hours ago)
    Alright i think i will call you later, But get back to me with the
    previous quote requested . in oder to proceed

    Williams

    creep fest. what in the world do they want?!?

  21. Sooooo… what should I do if I fell for it and I gave my address out? :-/ What is this all about? I had red flags going off too, but decided it would be fun.

  22. Joe and Pam are also on their way to California… 🙂

    The first clue: a client willing to change their dates to suit YOUR schedule.

  23. They will try to get money from you for example give you a cashiers check for 5k and ask if you will pay the Dj with the difference and mail him a check before you find out it is a bad check/ forgery. We’ve seen this scam in Ca. for a few years now.
    Just recieved this one today

    Good Day

    My name is Mr. Williams Gilbert a citizen of US but am here in
    United Kingdom two weeks ago due to my work, (Networking) Actually my
    daughter will be getting married soon in the United State on
    October30, 2010 at Buffalo Bingo Halls:304 10th Ave South Buffalo, MN
    .I am looking for a good photographer who will come and do the snap
    shots on D-day.I came across your listing on the web and am impressed
    with your services.

    I will like you to take care of the Photographs,All expenses would
    betaken care of;/perhaps you can give me the total/Quotes charges cost
    for the required services if you are to work for 4 Hours on that
    day,from 10 am to 2 noon

    Please I want the best services from you, because she is my only
    daughter so I want the best for her. So your best effort is needed at
    this occasion at the given time.We will select the best 60 copies of
    different snaps photos in both black and white and color and in Two
    main sizes and dimensions which is required for my daughter and her
    husband use at home.

    1- 16×20 Gallery Wrap or Float Wrap
    2- 11×14 regular prints
    2- 8×10 regular prints
    4- 5×7 regular prints
    5- 12×12 leather wedding album with 20 digitally designed pages,
    (front and back)
    6- 8×8 albums (exact replicas of the 12×12

    colored Snapped in the church and at the reception.the bride and the
    bridegroom,their parents, the officiating ministers and our guests, I
    want the pictures neat and nice.However,I will be making the payment
    by means of a Check.I look forward to your response.

    Best Regards

    Williams Gilbert

  24. GUESS WHAT FOLKS…

    He’s now coming to Colorado.

    If I see him I’ll whoop up on him some for all the trouble he’s trying to cause.

    He started the initial email scam to me on Aug, 18, 2010. The usual red flags went up for me but his replies were carefully thought out and full of details, so I thought “well, maybe he’s legit. People do move overseas and such.”

    So I emailed him my prices and got the same replies you all did I’m sure. Today he emailed me the following:

    Subject line: DEPOSIT PAYMENT MAILED OUT

    “Hello Marcus,
    I am sorry that I have not been able to reach out to you in the past 2weeks. I traveled down to China to arrange the shipment of some products that we are shipping to the USA ahead of our arrival .

    Anyway I was contacted by my associate today that the deposit payment for our photo-shoot has been mailed out to your address .Though Steve arrived on the 20th, being a very busy individual,but he was only able to mail it out to you yesterday via USPS, so the payment will get to you in 4 to 5 working days .

    The deposit payment was made in Cashier”s Check, please get back to me as soon as you receive this message so I can be sure that you are aware that the payment is on the way and you are watching out for it.

    Moreover please send me an update immediately you receive the payment before you take it to your bank so I can know you’ve received it.

    Thanks so much and I will be waiting to hear from you.

    Regards
    Joe
    +447405591742”

    I found this site out after receiving his above email today. I guess this fish bit the hook but I promptly spit it out with a reply to him stating that I’m no longer available and “if” I receive anything from him it will be returned to sender.

    • Thanks for posting your experience Marcus…
      What is interesting from his last email is: “Moreover please send me an update immediately you receive the payment before you take it to your bank so I can know you’ve received it”
      I guess that’s when you could get screwed up…
      Ida
      Al Ojeda Photography

  25. I thought I’d post an update…..

    Today I received a letter in the mail. The envelope was addressed to me by hand and postmarked:

    Triboro NY 112
    Bklyn-Qns-Staten ISL
    30 – Sept 2010

    Inside a Chase Bank cashier’s check for $2,975.00 which is far more than I quoted them for 3 hours.

    There was no return address on the envelope which raises another red flag. Why would someone mail someone almost $3k with no return address? Yeah, more evidence that this is a scam.

    I haven’t heard back from anyone since I emailed that I’m not available and I’d return whatever I received to whomever sent it, but now I can’t since there’s no return address.

    I’m certainly not going to cash it. Guess I’l frame it and title it “lesson learned”.

    • So the next step would have been, you sending him the difference of XXXX Dollars without cashing the Chase check, once he gets your “real” money, he gives you the ok to go ahead and cash the Chase check, which for sure has no funds or is from a nonexistent account…
      Now we kow what behind the scam !!!

  26. I got this exact email and have corresponded with him several times. I was slightly suspicious and when I got the $3000 check in the mail for a $500 job I knew it was a scam. Shame on these people.

  27. WOW I am an photographer also. I thought these emails were very very strange!!! He has been emailing me for a couple months. I also received a $3000.00 check in the mail. This is creapy. Why would people do this? What is the point?

    • Hi Brandy, the point in this particular scam is that he sends you more than you requested for your services, so you go and send him your good check with the difference and you’ll never hear back from him…

  28. THANK YOU!!!! I really appreciate everyone posting their experiences in this. I got the same email & became suspicious after the 3rd email I received. I googled the address in Arlington, Texas where the photo shoot was to take place only to find out the house is on the market and the real owners of the house had no idea what I was talking about, although they were nice enough to speak with me about it. I couldn’t figure out the scam until reading this, now I understand what their end objective was! It’s crazy the lengths some will take to steal from others!

  29. I have a similar story that just happened to me.

    Early in Dec I had a guy from London contact me and said he was coming to the US and wanted me to shoot 20 sculptures for him to sell in the US. I told him I would do it for $1000. He said his associate in New York would send me a Money Order and once I got the money order we would set up a date to do the shoot. I didn’t hear anything anymore about it and actually forgot about it because I’ve been so busy. I got the money order yesterday but it was 2 money orders in the anount of $980 a piece. No return address on the envelope or message attached. This sent up red flags.

    I emailed him and said thanks for the tip or either you have more than 20 sculptures now you want me to photograph. He then emailed me and said his associate made a mistake and to cash the money orders asap and send the difference back to him. This shot up more red flags all over the place so I did some reseach, called the police and talked to some friends. Apparently this scam has been going on for a long time. The scammer sends you more funds than you asked for in return you send them money back. The Money Orders are bogus but it make take a few days before the banks catch it. You will also have to pay a fee for a bad return and are liable for the return. You can also be charge for trying to cash a conterfeit Money Order.
    I found a # to call to verify the Money Orders and both are bad of course. After looking at it more carefully. The Money Orders were issued Nov 15 before the guy even contacted me.
    The Money Orders also look official. They have the Ben Franklin watermark on them and they have a silver USPS strip stamped on it. Those 2 things are the biggest ways to tell if they are real or not. I don’t think they are counterfeit but maybe stolen.
    The police said they can’t do anything because its probably generated in another country. Probably a Nigeria Scam since most of them generate from there.

    I read they are doing this through ebay purchases and also pin pointing Craig List sales.

  30. “…and they have a silver USPS strip stamped on it.”
    “The police said they can’t do anything because its probably generated in another country.”

    As long as it has a “USPS” logo, whether fake or not, the USPS will be very interested in it. I would contact the local postmaster and they should (at least in theory) contact the postal police. Your local police was wrong in not recommending this course of action.

    — Andreas

  31. Got another photo request scam, so obvious, check it:

    Author : Frank Roland (IP: 41.86.128.24 , 41.86.128.24)
    E-mail : frankroland16@yahoomail.com
    URL :
    Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/41.86.128.24
    Comment:
    To whom it may concern,please i need an experienced photographer for my son wedding,i wanna know the cost of 2000 copies cos it is gonna be a big party.Please if you are good and healthy let me know so that i can prepare down forfeit.Also, after the wedding might have taken place i will be celebrating my birthday of which i want you to photo us also…please send me some pictures you have taken before in different occasions and include the price of 2000 copies.Soonest to hear from you.ASAP
    Frank.

    Keep safe guys…
    Ida

  32. Found out using IP locator, the previous email I posted with IP: 41.86.128.24 from “Frank Roland”, came from NIGERIA !!! And we all know there a lot of scams coming from Nigeria… I even saw someone from there checked again onto our website a few days ago…

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