I got a text message this afternoon while I was out and about asking if I could photograph an event. My spidey sense immediately started to tingle because 1) who hires anybody by text message? and 2) the text originated from an area code on the other side of the country from me. My first impulse was to reply that I do products and real estate but not event photography, but okay, alright, I have a few minutes free right now, so let’s see what they have in mind. I text back, “If the event is local, possibly.”
The guy says he is hearing impaired, hence the texting (okay). He has a family reunion coming up in two weeks in my town, and he provides an apparently legit local address (okay). He wants a whole package of different sizes of prints (I am not a photo studio) and six hours of my time to photograph 30 to 40 people in attendance (sounds like a long day, but okay, doable). What is my firm price, he wants to know, and then tells me his budget is $1,000 (whoa, big money!). And oh by the way, will I take a credit card? (ding! warning bell!).
After asking him a few questions, I offered 40 to 50 finished digital files, no prints, and 6 hours of my time for $750, and I didn’t mention payment terms. His reply, in all its scrambled message order and garbled syntax, was almost instant.
I have learned the hard way that when a client asks for any kind of favor involving money, granting it will not be to my advantage. My internal warning bell rang louder, but I played along.
Now I could see exactly what was going on, and he was kind enough to explain it precisely for me.
Well, there it is. I could have been out more than $2,000 in no time flat. Does anyone actually fall for this?
I wasn’t even offended that he tried to con me. I get that crap every day by phone and email; only the texting part is new this time.
I immediately blocked his number, then Googled it. Both the number and the name he gave me have been reported for scamming. What a surprise. Next time I get a fishy text like this, I’ll go to Google first!