Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

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Fraud – if it sounds almost too good to be true

Tom Schmuki1 Comment

This blog is about my personal experiences with FRAUD as it relates to my photography business.  You will find one common theme with my 3 case stories.  If you are a photographer, a fashion designer, a studio owner, you may want to read on.  This may save you THOUSANDS of dollars.

Case #1:

Request from out of town to photograph a wedding on the east coast of Florida.  I cannot remember the proposed $ amount but it was an appropriate amount and in line with normal wedding photographic work.  Warning signs:

  1. Client would only communicate via email and texts, and his English was awful.  I even think he said he was deaf and could not speak on the phone. 
  2. I could not confirm how the client vetted me as the photographer of choice
  3.  Here is the big one: client proposed sending me a larger check than the negotiated amount and I would pay the difference to his florist or other vendors. 

Case #2:

Request from out of town client to do a beach shoot. Warning signs:

  1. Wanted to pay me more than the negotiated amount and have me pay the difference to her taxi cab driver.

Case #3:

Proposal from a very large commercial photography company for me to photograph a 4 day shoot with 15 models and 3 photographers.  The proposal was for their supposed client ADIDAS.  All paperwork seemed incredibly professional and on the up and up.  Warning signs:

  1. I could not determine how the client vetted me as the photographer of choice to do this shoot.  I thought: of course I am qualified and worthy of this kind of a gig, and certainly my portfolio shows that qualification
  2. The client would not divulge the name of the models, the studio, nor the fashion designers even up to 1 day before the shoot.  Said that the lawyers have not officially released that information
  3. Here we go again…. Client wanted to send me a check for MORE than my contracted amount.  The balance to be paid to fashion designers and vendors for the shoot.

Is there a common theme here?  YES.  DO not engage in these SCAMS.  As soon as the client proposes you do some “OUT” banking instead of just “IN” banking, you know it is a SCAM.  There is no reason a client CANNOT pay for expenses like a florist, a taxi cab driver, a fashion designer or vendor directly. 

What is the SCAM?

They send you a check, you deposit it in your bank.  They then ask you to issue funds to an external third party.  Within 3-10 business days the original check from the client is rejected from your bank as a bad check.  You will be out the entire amount issued to 3rd parties and also have divulged information including banking information to the scammers to use against you and or sell to other scammers.

I confirmed this with my bank. They told me to NEVER issue checks to a 3rd party.  You will always be giving good money for BAD money received.

I used NO checks or funds to any of these scammers.  Good thing!