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Photographers Beware: Text Message Scam


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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:

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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.

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.



No Comments

  1. Kristin on December 2, 2015 at 9:54 am

    I am a portrait photographer in Southeast Michigan, and received a similar text message maybe 4-5 months ago. I instantly became suspicious and chose to ignore it. Glad I did!

  2. j on December 2, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Yes, i’ve seen this 3 times, in email form. I had fun with them 2 of the times ;). But the 1st time was not as obvious, and I ended up calling the venue- that’s when i found out it was a scam. I almost got the guy/gal to forge a signature of the venue manager. Otherwise, there is no legal action to be taken against these people.

  3. Iris on December 2, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Yup, got a similar message and said I don’t do events. Never heard back 🙂

  4. Debra Harlander on December 4, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    So, I received this request twice this past year. The person went so far as to tell me she was in the ICU in Virginia and the event planner at the venue (which she/he had no idea that I have done plenty of work at this particular venue) did not take credit cards and she/he wanted to put everything on a card with me and then I would ‘transfer’ the payment to the event planner. As soon as I told the person that my husband and business partner was also the Police Commissioner (which he is) and I’d have to clear it with him first the messages suddenly stopped. Go figure.

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