Nigerian Scam for Photographers

May 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

[updated 7/28/2013]

see my new Nigerian Scam letter at the bottom of this article.

 

Really?

Yes, the Nigerian Scam is alive and well and doing just fine, sadly.  

With a lot of people, especially photographers looking for work and struggling to make money to pay bills, the offers of this scam are sometimes hard to pass up.

Be aware of anything that sounds too good to be true, most likely it probably is.  There is something to be said about old sayings.  With that said, With age, comes experience.

I recently received an extraordinary offer from a person claiming to be from Hello Magazine in London, England.  The first e-mail did not go into too much detail, so I of course sent my reply simply stating, "Can you send me the details."  Simple as that, no leading on or jumping at the bit.

I was a little curious, but I knew right at the get-go, that this was most likely nothing that would pan out, but I still needed to know.  This is the first step in favor for the scammers, showing interest.  I received this from my Model Mayhem account, which I use just for reaching out for other photographers, models and hair & make-up people.

You really never know, when you put your info out there to be seen, someone in a key location may see it and really want to give you a shot.  But in reality, most prominent magazines have their go-to people when they need a photographer.

 

Anyway, I get the reply a day later.  Here is a copy of the actual of the e-mail:

As you can see, at first glance, it looks like a possible legitimate offer, but it is just riddled with clues that this is a SCAM.

  • The return e-mail, [you don't see here] is not even associated with the magazines domain.  The e-mail this came from was maildavidclark@gmail.com.  If this was from Hello Magazine, it would most likely have an e-mail like david@hellomag.com.  Not all companies use their companies e-mail server, like myself.  I use Google Mail to make it easier for me to manage e-mails on the go, not to SCAM people.
  • A magazine or other publication is not going to ask for you to send pictures to them.  They may ask for a web-site to view your photos, but this would have been done already.  Think about it, they are going to offer you a Pay job without even seeing your work first, sound fishy?
  • The payment part is partly true, but look at the details.  Some photographers do take partial payments up front, and the final payment upon completion, it all depends on the type of shoot.  But wait, you are responsible for paying "their" wardrobe person?  When would this be an acceptable practice in any shoot?  If the wardrobe people are their people, shouldn't they be paying them?  Not only does this throw a major red flag in the air, but there could possibly be tax implications to doing something like this.
  • FYI a magazine would ask for you to fill out some paperwork such as a W-9 and/or a 10-99 form for the IRS.  The would never ask for your bank info, why?  All they need is the name you are doing business as, they don't need your bank account number or routing number.  This is why it is good to have a EIN or TIN instead of using your actual SSN.
  • Look Mom, no details!  No mention of the type of shots to go for, no deadline, no image format requirements, no image usage statements and no talk about final rights of the images.

Please, if you are a photographer, do NOT fall for this or any other SCAMS out there.  Some are more sophisticated then others.

Any job offer that is un-solicited and a high rate of pay, should be your first clue. Any place that offers you more money and aks for you to pay someone else with the overpayment, that is what you should expect to loose if you follow through with their request.  

Simply put, if you follow this, the check you receive will bounce or be no good, the bank will not honor it and any money that you sent will be long gone and not able to be recovered.  You see this a lot with people making offers for items that you sell on E-bay and Craigslist.

 

From Craigslist:

7. foreign company offers you a job receiving payments from customers, then wiring funds

  • foreign company may claim it is unable to receive payments from its customers directly
  • you are typically offered a percentage of payments received
  • this kind of "position" may be posted as a job, or offered to you via email

Be safe and Be smart.

Please comment or add to this if you have been scammed or you have received anything similar to this.

 

Update [7/28/2013]

Just wanted to add another Nigerian Scam letter that I received through my junk mail.  These are the more common type that draws unsuspecting people in.  The hook is geared towards people being a little greedy and just seeing the dollar signs and not thinking clearly.

Unless you actually have family and or relatives that reside in Nigeria, you should never even give this type of letter a second glance.

 

Now the truth of the matter is, if there actually was some sort of award or inheritance that you were entitled to, these letters would come to you via a certified letter or some sort of mailing with legitimate addresses.  The scammers almost always use a fake address in email, but eventually it is something they can access if they were to snare someone with their scam, otherwise the scam would be pointless.

Typically you would see another version of the scam which is really a variant of the first one in this article when listing a item for sale on sites like E-bay, Craigslist or some other similar site.

Usually the scam works like this:

 - You list the item you are trying to sell.  The higher the price, the more likely you will get an scam offer like this.

 - After the listing is live, you get an offer.  These offers sometimes include a story of purchasing the item for another in some random situation.  I have heard stories such as buying for a colleague on a mission of charity, an executor for a church group, and so on.

 - The offer you get is usually over the amount your item is listed for.  For instance, let's say you list your item for $1,000, they would send you and offer for $2,500 [just an example].  Instantly this gets your attention.

 - The catch is that they will pay you the "extra" cash for shipping or some sort of handling fee and usually ask you to send the "remainder" in check form.  

How does this work:  

Like the top example, they lore you in with the big $$ and in the hopes that you will let greed override your common sense.  The extra money they send you is actually no good.  It comes in the form of a check or money order that look legit but are not worth a dime.

The scammer is hoping that you will send the "overpayment" via check before you find out that the form of payment they had sent to you is no good. 

Salt in the wound.

If you have been unlucky enough to have fallen for this scam, it could have a second bite and even a third, to make matters worse.

If you sent a "payment" to the scammers and they cashed it, if you don't have the funds in your account to cover it, you could be liable for the amount that you sent them as "payment".  

So using the example I gave; if you paid them $1500, the amount you listed was $1000 and they offered you $2500.  If you did not have $1500 in your account, in hopes that this was a true purchase, you would be responsible for the amount of that check plus any non-sufficient fund {NSF} charges that your bank may apply for writing a check without proper funds.  Not to mention any other checks that may bounce due to this.

The third sting to this.  Now your bank and check info may be at risk since you paid with a check.  If you paid with a money order, you will probably be fine.  If you did fall victim to this scam, always be pro-active and watch your bank activity for strange and foreign transactions.  Probably best to come forth and let your bank know or purchase some fraud protection insurance, if available, to cover any other fraudulent charges.

 

Good Luck and Be Smart! 

 


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