So being out there now, as a business, one of the things I deal with is the occasional scammer. There is one type of scam which specifically targets photographers and I have ran into it twice already. The first time it took a few days until it revealed itself as a scam. This was from email communication. The second time was only a couple days ago. I received a text message, but it pretty much followed the same details.
So what is this scam and how does it work? Pretty much, the person you are in contact with gives you (insert story here) and tells you they can pay for your service, but cannot pay you directly, and needs you to assist in payment to a 3rd party, in which you will receive compensation after. Something like that. Feel free to read it here: http://www.popphoto.com/beware-family-reunion-scam-thats-currently-targeting-photographers or http://neilvn.com/tangents/photographers-how-scammers-rip-you-off-scams-fraud/
First time I ran into this was with an email correspondence. It went back and forth for a week. I picked up on the scam after the third email and the rest of the time was just having some fun wasting the scammers time. It honestly sounds pretty legit until they talk about how the payment will work. The responses I had were timely and in proper english.
A few days ago, I ran into the second one. This one was more easily identifiable. For starters, the area code was from California (out of state). They started it off by stating they were hospitalized and that the hospital would not allow for communication other than text messages. I eventually had them call me after they ‘received the hospitals ok for a phone call’ and oh boy, were they ever upset.
Over the phone, it was nearly impossible to understand them. It sounded like a Skype call gone wrong. Not only that, but sounded like they were in a busy call-center. The person I spoke with also had a heavy russian accent. Red flags anyone? This time around, I did not have as much fun and let it go. Mainly because I am not as fast with replying over the phone as I am with sending email and find composing long paragraphs with correct grammar to be quite time consuming and difficult, over a cell phone. So after a few responses and feeling this was yet another scam of the same type, I let it fade to no responses.
There are a few other scams out there for photographers, but this is the one which I have already encountered twice in such a short while. I am sure it will not be the last time I run into these either. Next one I run into, when it is an email, perhaps I will post the full thing, responses and all. I typically get some help with replies and they can become quite amusing. This is how it should be when dealing with these scammers. Just be careful you never fall for it and give away any vital information.