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Craigslist Scam Patterns for Hiring Photographers?

Anthony Perlas , Aug 15, 2012; 08:32 a.m.

I've posted in Craigslist and I was happy to finally receive a client through their service! He asked me if I was available on a Saturday I said yes and then he replied:

Date: August ##, 2012 #:##:## AM EDT
To: My Name
Subject: Re: Anthony Perlas Seroptics.com Photography

Hello ,

Thanks for the quick response and I'm sorry if my message came in late , i have been busy with other arrangements and i hope you understand .Its really nice reading from you and im glad to hear that you are available for my wedding .

I want you to know that this is a inside wedding and the order of events will mail to you a week before the wedding day but the order events is likely to be pictures first, then the wedding ceremony , and then the reception but let me discuss this with my lady because is our wedding so our two has to make the decision together . I hope you understand my point of view.

I want you to know that we will be taking formal pictures so i will like you to recommend 45minutes or an hour set aside for taking formal pictures because we have large family from both my side and the bride side and friends /co-workers we will want to take pictures with . So it will be easier if we can take the pictures before the ceremony because it will be more relaxed with fewer time constraints and would like you to set up a great "first look" shot of me looking at my bride for the first time on the wedding day.

the wedding date is ##th of sept 2012

Basically we need your service starting from 12pm to 6pm .

We are expecting 250 guests i.e 200 adults and 50 children .

And also there will be a table place set for you at the reception , so you don't need to bring your own food but it will be nice if you can just give me an hint of what kind of food you want us to arrange for you i.e if you are vegetarian or eat all kind of foods .

Further more , there will be special important parts/people at the ceremony or reception that i would want you to take a picture of .I will send the list of the important parts/people to you a week before the wedding day and i want you to know that my wedding is a sleek modern wedding .

I need you to get back to me with your charges and i will be paying you upfront , I just called my uncle who will be in charge of your service fees he told me that your payment will be paid to you via certified check so he has asked me to ask for your full name and physical address with zip code that you want the payment to be send to so as for me to secure your service for my wedding party.

I'm currently on working on off shore and im using impaired device ,so therefore i can only send message via internet or send you an sms from my pinger ..

I will send you the venue address once you agree to everything i stated above and also waiting for the details to issue on the check...

Will be expecting to read back from you with the details I have asked for thanks so much and God bless.


Everything seemed fine in the email. He is able to pay upfront. I'm kind of reluctant because he said he was "oversees" and that he cannot communicate other than via internet or sms.
How should I handle this situation?
He's basically asking for my name, address and zip code and he is willing to pay me a certified check upfront. It looks like a low risk situation as far as I can tell. What are the pros and cons?


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Michael Howard , Aug 15, 2012; 08:38 a.m.

Ah the ol' "rich Nigeria uncle will be paying scam". Your senses are correct, this is not only a scam, but it is one of the oldest in the books. Delete the email, and don't respond to any more from them. You can google "nigerian scam" for more details on how this works.

Mark Sanderson , Aug 15, 2012; 08:57 a.m.

Come on, "everything seemed fine"? It's not even written in proper English, with all sorts of weird assumptions. Definitely a S C A M.........certified check? Please.

Harry Joseph , Aug 15, 2012; 09:04 a.m.

From what I can tell there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this reply. You put an Ad on Craiglist and he replied. On the other hand the groom seems to be too much of an expert on how wedding photography works.
He must have done some research, or maybe he was involved in more than a few weddings himself.
Another thing is why didn't he ask for your phone number, or if it was listed(which probably it was) why didn't he call you. The good thing is that he offered to pay you by certified check instead of asking for your Routing number.

Michael R. Freeman , Aug 15, 2012; 09:12 a.m.

"...and he is willing to pay me a certified check upfront. It looks like a low risk situation as far as I can tell."

It's not. The check will be bogus. As Michael Howard notes, it's one of the oldest scams going. The cheque will mysteriously be for more than the agreed upon fee, so the scammer will ask you to send the overage to another wedding "vendor" to pay their fee. You deposit the check, send the excess funds, then several days later your bank calls and informs you that the "certified check" was fake and did not clear. You have just been defrauded of whatever the amount was that you sent to the scammers buddy (a.k.a. the other wedding vendor).

He asks for your physical address so that he can send the fake check via courier, and not the US Mail (committing mail fraud).

Chris Letts , Aug 15, 2012; 09:17 a.m.

I am used to dealing with email scams at work, and advising others on validity and as far as I can see this looks genuine.
He's only asking for your name and address, not your bank details etc. Get suspicious if he starts asking for those.
Also scams are usually one-off emails, and you say he already enquired, you replied, and this is his follow-up.

Michael R. Freeman , Aug 15, 2012; 09:24 a.m.

"From what I can tell there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this reply."

Honestly? If I was a wedding pro, I would run screaming from the room.

  • "God bless" - to sucker in the devout, religious (and naive) photographer
  • out of the country - funny how these grooms are always "away at the moment"
  • specifically asks for a physical street address to send payment
  • payment by "certified" funds sent via a third party
  • short advance time ("wedding" less than a month away)
  • communication via email only
  • broken English - in itself not necessarily an issue, but combined with everything else...

David Haas , Aug 15, 2012; 09:25 a.m.

If he gave you the location and time of the event - it's simple enough to call the event center and find out if there is a wedding booked on that date and time - and find out if the names match or are close.

Spelling typos and grammar are not strong suits of iphone or android systems. That by itself is not enough anymore to indicate scam.

The fact that he is unavailable via phone yet called his uncle is a flag. How can he call one person, but not another?

If it is a scam - the way it works is that the "uncle" will send you a certified check or money order for $$$$ over your rate - then tell you that he is sorry it is so much over, but would you be able to deposit the check anyway and send them a money order (Western Union, Etc...) for the overage in US dollars since they only have their native currency. That way they can "pay" the other vendors. By the time your bank discovers that the original check / money order is a fake - you've withdrawn the money, paid it out to the scammer and there's no way to get it back - since Moneygram / Western Union don't care who picks up the money.

Don't provide any further personal information to them - see if the uncle can meet you someplace or has a phone - if he's in the states he should be able to call you. If they don't can't provide a local contact number or a contact number period - then scam. If they are local and can't tell you the location or if the names on the location don't match then a scam. If you say - my fee is $x,000 and they send you double or triple that - then it is a scam.

I've had several of these turn out to be scams - and several turn out to be legit weddings that I had a blast photographing. One of my first weddings when I got back into doing them came from an e-mail / phone call similar to yours... Bride emailed from her iphone and it looked like it was written by a 3rd grader - no caps, no punctuation, run on sentences, etc... she called later that same week and it showed a strange (to me) area code, plus she was in a bad cell. Long story short - I got the check / contract etc.. in the mail - check was for the agreed upon amount - I called the venues to verify - yep - checked out... did the wedding, had a blast doing it.


Michael R. Freeman , Aug 15, 2012; 09:27 a.m.

Will Daniel , Aug 15, 2012; 09:48 a.m.

In addition to this appearing to be a classical scam attempt, the potential scammer has your active e-mail address to add to his or some other party's spam list. I'm guessing you have already started receiving lots of unwanted e-mails. Now you know where it's coming from.

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