Watch out fellow photographers! There’s a scam going around that specifically targets wedding photographers. I’ve personally experienced this over the past few months, where I’ve been contacted by supposed clients wanting to book my services for their weddings. But there are some common signs that indicate these inquiries are fraudulent.
Firstly, the English used in these messages is strangely flawed. They contain atypical typos, grammar mistakes, and awkward phrasing. While one might overlook these errors individually, they become suspicious when combined, especially considering the names of the authors sound quite WASPy.
Secondly, pay attention to the area code of the phone number that contacts you. It’s important to check if it matches the local region or if it comes from another country. We found one such phone number from the UK with many comments about a photography scam. These scammers often use out-of-country numbers, mostly from the American Midwest, though keep in mind that phone numbers can be spoofed.
Another red flag is when the supposed client claims to be booking on behalf of a relative who is from out of town. They themselves may also claim to be out of town. This is a tactic used to manipulate the situation and make it seem more legitimate.
One common aspect of these scam inquiries is that the weddings are always on short notice. They typically request services for weddings scheduled within two to four weeks from the initial contact. One example even asked for available dates in August, which is extremely short notice for planning a wedding.
Interestingly, the scammers show no interest in the price of your services. This contrasts with legitimate inquiries where price is often a key consideration. The scammers only briefly touch upon price once they establish your availability. It seems as though they are only concerned with whether you accept credit card payments.
Speaking of credit cards, the scammers emphasize paying by credit card in their initial messages. They inquire about your acceptance of credit card payments and stress its importance. This unnatural insistence is a clear warning sign. Legitimate clients rarely push for one particular payment method.
Lastly, these scammers are reluctant to meet in person or have video chats. When you suggest these options, they always come up with outrageous excuses to avoid them. They will also request a digital version of the contract instead of signing a physical copy.
If you’re still unsure whether the inquiry is legitimate, look out for generic locations, incorrect addresses, or poor geographic awareness in the information provided. Scammers might mention a generic location like “London,” give a completely wrong address, or request your services in a location far away from your usual area of business. To verify their claims, you can even call any legitimate wedding venues they mention.
These patterns and signs have been consistent across almost every scam attempt I’ve encountered. However, without solid confirmation, you cannot be 100% certain that you’re dealing with a scammer. So, it’s best to maintain professionalism while disengaging from the conversation.