How to detect different scams
We recently encountered inquiries that poses as a scammer or photography scam. The end results of these scams will ask the photographer to receive a full advanced payment, and then process the fraudulent payment, and give a portion to a “talent or assistant”. In reality what ends up is the bank realizes this as a fake cheque payment, and will cause this to bounce, which results in loss of money to the scammer.
Although these scammers make the conversation look very real, always trust the own instinct. If it sounds odd or not right, it probably is not right. There are some ways to detect problems:
- If the unknown person writes in poor english and grammar
- If the person asks generic and general questions and cannot be specific in particular services
- Does not provide specific details on its role
- If the unknown person is not local and out of town or out of the country
- If the person does not sound serious
- If the person asks to provide service that is not local in town (ie: to provide birthday family photos to a family in Alberta when we are in Vancouver?)
- If the person does not provide a phone number
- If the person wants to provide upfront cheque or payment to the photographer, then the photographer pays an assistant or talent, or have some complicated payment schemes
- If the individual fails to answer specific questions and fails to provide specific details about what company they are, what company or name of event is hosted, where the venue is specifically hosted (ie: when someone says “an event is held at a venue in British Columbia)
- When the inquiry itself does not make any sense and is out of context
- The email impersonates a real company
- The individual does not write in a professional tone
- Does not address me or the company by specific name, and uses generic terms such as “your organization”, etc.
- Most scammers use a gmail account, as a way to hide himself
From the screenshot above, one would ask question to himself – why would a person ask to take family photos for someone not local or out of town? It does not make sense.
Sometimes a conversation may sounds legitimate that it sounds like a real gig and gig until odd points come up, such that the contact is from out of town or out of the country wanting to give a form of advanced cheque or payment and use that to pay the talent (which if cashed, it will bounce back and you will lose that money and the money paid to the talent).
As you can see, the above advanced payment scheme is so complex and complicated and does not follow the normal payment procedures of any businesses. The usual normal way for any businesses is usually to provide services locally and then issue an invoice and then receive payment then provide the photos or products.
Also looking carefully, this scammer copy and paste, mixing videographer and photographer together, mixing everything up, creating confusion and likely a copy paste scam scheme. Nothing makes sense overall.
For all photography businesses please be careful, and trust your instincts. If it does not sound right, if it does not feel right, then follow your positive feeling and don’t reply to those unknown people. If nothing makes sense, ignore the contact and don’t bother reply.
The key is to only work with people locally in town. By following the local rule, most problems can be avoided in scams.
In this example, I deliberately interrogate this individual and he follows the hallmark of scams. He addressed me by “your organization”, which is clearly a copy and paste scam, he impersonates a real company unfortunately, and uses poor spelling and poor grammar and unprofessional words, and asks to write up an invoice in advanced so that he can send in a fake cheque. He was also unable to provide specific details when asked upon, a major sign of a scam. He uses a Gmail Account instead of the real company email domain.
Here is an example of a scam email. This person is not local, says a general, non-specific role “Youtuber, director and education provider”, take videos on a non-specific location in town. Likely, if the conversation goes on, it may lead for the scammer to cash in their advanced payment and other bad behaviour.
Other examples of Phishing Scams
There are other types of general common phishing scams going around the internet. The image below is one classic example of a phishing scam trying to represent and use an official company logo to make it look real and deceiving.
This is a scam because the return email is not even from Amazon and uses a different domain. The language and tone used in this email is very unprofessional – another indicator of a non-genuine email. Also companies will not warn people about closure of accounts, suspension of accounts and asks them to click on the link to correct the issue. Even the link itself – if you put the mouse over, it leads into a different website that is not Amazon. This is another indicator of a spam and non-genuine email.
Anyone concerned of problems can also forward these emails and contact to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or your local law enforcement.
Phone Call Scam
We recently encountered a possible telephone scam that is odd in behaviour. The caller calls at an unknown private number as Caller ID display, then when answered, takes 5-7 secs before answering. There was lots of background noise. The caller asks right away if we accept credit cards payment. I then hang up. This is odd behaviour, because why would someone just right away asks if I accept credit card payment without inquiring about my services? So as an advice, if anyone encounter this kind of phone call from an unknown number or asks strange questions that does not feel right, just hang up or simply reject the phone call to the voicemail.
Here is another possible spam. The number is not real or out of town. He uses protonmail. He asks to draw cartoons when one is a photographer instead. General language, nothing specific here (ie: Academic event organizer). Ask to send money upfront.
Another example is a stranger asking a question through Google Business platform. Notice how the individual starts off with a very generic, basic, non specific inquiry. The unknown person can even use any address to pretend there is an event. Then the unknown person desperately wants to send full payment in advanced. A normal business inquiry process in person and local in town, would not be talking like this. One can verify the legitimate of this by calling the event location to verify and by insisting to talk to him on the phone (asking this person’s phone number, which he gave an out of town number, which is a red flag) or by video chat. The fact the individual asks to send money right away by mobile pay and asks about who I bank with, is a big red flag. No one should be compelled to give away these sensitive personal information to an unverified person. And we don’t use mobile pay. We use e-transfer. This is another red flag. A scammer that is not in town and not local.
On this example, you see the potential scammers addresses to “Dear”, not to anyone specific. The details of “Downtown center Vancouver BC Canada” does not make sense, is not specific and detailed, and the wording is commonly used by scammers. This person mass email a lot of people, so that it shows up as undisclosed recipients. The scammer asks for the portfolio link. Then how did they email me if they don’t know the portfolio? Sounds like mass emailing. The entire email does not sound professional, especially in the beginning. If she is not a realtor or an agent, who is she then?