Photography Scam - Scammers Target Photographers

Scammers have been around for a while targeting different areas, and now they are coming after photographers. The beginning of this month I was contacted by someone requesting they needed a photographer for their family reunion coming up. Below I will outline the conversation that took place between myself and this scammer.

Scammer:

Hello!

My name is ***********. My Family reunion is coming up and i want
you capture the memorable event. Also, do you accept credit card as a
form of payment?

ME:

Hey,
When is your family reunion? And where would this be happening at? Yes I do take credit card. Let me know.

Thanks!

Scammer:

Kyle, 

Thank you for the swift response. I want you to check if you have available weekends between June 5th-28th (Saturday or Sunday). If you have a date open i want you to work on the estimate cost for the 5 hours photo coverage from (11am-4pm), and 6-16x20 prints family photo portraits because we have 6 families coming together for the reunion event. The event will be held locally here in the state about an hour or two drive from your location, i will cover the travel expenses.

I want unlimited candid shots on USB for each family and each family will come together for a large portrait during the 5 hours session and each family will have separate portrait after that. The event is both indoor and outdoor activities. We are expecting a number of 40-55 people's including children under the age of 8-15 years. I got your information on the internet and i hope you can handle this event. 

I'll be making 50% down payment in advance with my credit card to run manually to secure the date. I want you to know that i am in the ICU just recuperating from an ear surgery i undergo so i can't talk over the phone but i can provide you my cell number for text. I will be looking forward to read from you with the estimate ASAP.

Regards, 

(I thought these things were pretty suspicious and had some concerns but continued to see what this was all about.)

ME:

Hey,
Thanks for all the details!

I would love to shoot you over an estimate. I just need a few more details to get a better idea of everything.

Can you give me a location of where you plan to have your event? Also what type of place will you be holding your event at? Park, home or event center?

Let me know.

Thanks!

Scammer:

Thank you the reunion is going to take place in (lists address). It's a private property and will be held there. It's a home

ME:

Hey,
Thank you for your patients while I get your estimate on your investment done. I am working full time while I run my photography business as well.

Hope your recovery is going well.

I can give you the dates that I will be available so you can get thinking of what will work for you while I finish up the estimate.

I am open on June 13th, 20th or 27th.

Please let me know what works for you on one of those days.

Thanks!

Scammer:

Yes, the June 20th work fine for our family because it's the Father's day weekend. I hope to read from you ASAP with the total cost.

(Still very anxious to get the total of the estimate. At this point I dug a little deeper and trusted my gut that this was a scam happening. I didn't know how but knew they were after getting my money some how. I took to google to see if I could find any scams happening to photographers. I found a post from a photographer made July 4th 2013 and thought well that's a while back so that couldn't be happening now. I clicked on it anyway and found the same things in what was happening to me.

Check out Neilvan Niekerk
http://neilvn.com/tangents/photographers-how-scammers-rip-you-off-scams-fraud/

After reading this I decided to send my quote which I knew if I sent triple the amount of what my original quote would be with no alarm or questions from the scammer then I knew 100% it was a scam. So I sent my quote of $4500. Any normal person would ask for a breakdown of the costs, but not them. They didn't care because they were going after my money. And here is the response I get)

Scammer:

Thank you for the estimate. The event planner handling the event does not have the facility to receives credit card payment. I want you to add their charges to yours so you can have everything run on my credit card.  I want you to render me a little favor.

The favor is that after you ran everything on my credit card and the total amount has cleared to your account, you will send their fees to them because they only accept cash . Here is the final breakdown below :

Your service: 40% deposit
Event planner: $1500
Tips & Gratuity : $100
3% CC Surcharge: $$$

In view of this i want you to get back to me with the grand total and i will provide you with my credit card details to run through ASAP.

Thanks, 

After this happened I started looking into the email it was generated from and the email which was used wasn't the same email where it was being sent from. I found j.hays2404@gmail.com as the address that showed in the email header. I put this into google and found a bunch of stuff on it and more evidence pointing towards this scam. This facebook post was identical to the messages I received.
https://www.facebook.com/preludephoto/posts/10153105267458701

All photographers, be on the look out for anything like this with any services you offer. It can happen with any service you offer. Be sure to share this with anyone you know that's a photographer.