Photographers Beware: Text Message Scam

Here’s what you need to know so that you don’t fall victim to the latest photographer scam.

I received the following text message recently:

photography scam


Would you have thought it was a scam? I wasn’t sure, at first. Here’s what made me suspicious:

  • A family reunion in two months whose date is being set based on the photographer’s availability? Hmmm. I mean, I’m good, but not that good!
  • Strange grammar
  • And of course, the inevitable question about the credit card

I went to my local photography Facebook group page to see if anyone else had received a similar message.  Sure enough, lots of folks had received them. The sending phone number changed from text to text, as did the “client’s” name. However, the texts had the same structure and vague details.

One local photographer decided to have some fun with the scammer. This exchange is funny, but it also shows you the lengths that these criminals will go to to steal your money.

scam 2

Thanks to Max Photography in central Texas for sharing his humor and his experience!

What are the scammers hoping to get out of these transactions? One common scenario is that they would overpay you and ask you to forward the difference to someone else, paying you a fee for the transfer to make it sound appealing to you. They would ask you to send these funds via wire transfer.

The credit card number that they would use to pay you will be fraudulent. The issuing card company would find the transaction and reverse the deposit out of your account, but not until you had already wired the extra money to someone that you can’t recover it from. You would be out the amount that you wired.

How should you handle these texts?

  • Ignoring them is the best option. However, note that some people I checked with received a series of texts from the same person.
  • If there aren’t enough details in the communication (this can happen via email also), beware. Most potential clients will mention a venue that you know, a specific date, a past customer that referred them or some other detail that will convince you that they are legitimate.
  • If you receive an overpayment, call your credit card processor immediately.

While there are many scams in the world, this one in particular targets photographers. Use common sense when filtering new prospects and you should be safe.


Erin Peloquin

Erin Peloquin is Lightroom & Photoshop Elements instructor. She also works for Jodi here at MCP to create great editing tools for Lightroom & Elements. Her portfolio is at Time in a Camera.

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