Freelance photographers are getting targeted by a new con. Scammers are posing as potential clients and fooling photographers into paying thousands of dollars. It's a new twist on the classic overpayment scam.
How the Scam Works:
You are looking online for freelance photography jobs. One post looks particularly promising, a family in your area is hiring a photographer to take family portraits. You send a message to the email provided, but, in their reply, the potential client has some odd requests.
First, the client doesn't want to meet or talk on the phone. He or she only wants to communicate by email. Second, the family is amazingly flexible with their time. They give you a huge window in which they are available for photos. Finally, there's the biggest red flag of all. The client wants to send you a check for far more than your fee. You are supposed to deposit it and transfer the difference to an "event planner" or other third party.
Don't take the job! A version of this scam is targeting freelance photographers across the US and Canada. The exact scenario given may change, but the central scam remains the same. If you deposit a fake check, the money will appear to be in your account. But if you transfer the funds before the bank officially clears the check, you are responsible for the difference.
How to Spot a Freelance Scam:
- Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay a contractor and ask him/her to wire the money elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers.
- Watch out for clients who won't meet in person or talk on the phone. You may be an excellent candidate for a job, but beware of offers made without talking first. Scammers use many excuses to avoid talking, ranging from having surgery, being out of the country or even being hearing impaired. If your "client" will only communicate through email or text message, that's a big red flag.
- Watch out for bad grammar. Many scams targeting job seekers and freelancers operate overseas. Be wary of help wanted postings and emails written in poor English.
- If a job looks suspicious, search for it online. If the result comes up in other cities with the exact same post, it is likely a scam.