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A Bit Of A Scam!

23rd January, 2012

So…I’m always hugely excited when a new email hits my inbox inquiring about my services as a wedding photographer and as a conscientious and honest individual I respond to each one as quickly and thoroughly as I can.  The excitement was no different when a Mr Henry Anay emailed me at the end of last week asking if I would be available to photograph his daughters wedding in February.

The email outlined the date, that his daughter was his only daughter and that he was looking for someone to cover the day with every care and responsibility a father would expect.  What struck me at first was that his English wasn’t perfect but this is not unusual and it wasn’t the reason for any hesitation.  What was odd to me at first was the fact that he only wanted me to work from 10am – 12pm and that he had not mentioned the location of the wedding.  That had to be a very early wedding I thought?  Perhaps their religion meant it had to be that way, there was still so much I didn’t know.

Here is the original email:

Did you spot it too?  A celebrity journal?  Whose pictures would I be taking?!  Even though I was reluctant, as a new business my heart did leap a little at the prospect of my photographs being seen somewhere prolific and I knew if I had the opportunity for something like that I should at least follow up this inquiry with a response.

I checked the email and it was a Yahoo address, nothing immediately threw up any warning lights yet as I’m sure you’re aware, I also needed more information before proceeding.  I responded to Mr Anay asking for the location, time of the ceremony, his daughters contact details (I would never do a wedding without talking to the bride and groom!) and confirmation that he was in fact only looking for two hours work.  When Henry responded a few hours later I was surprised that the only question he answered was about the wedding venue, a church in Bow, London, on the Burdett Road.  St Pauls Church does in fact exist…believe me, I checked it out!  However, it didn’t look like the sort of place that would be featured in any context of a “celebrity wedding”.  I realise I am being a little presumptuous at this point and somewhat stereotypical, the family may have a history in Bow or at the church, anything is possible but still, something wasn’t clicking.

I asked for more from Henry, and this is what I got:

Whoa there Henry!  Calm down…I don’t even offer a ‘Silver Wedding Package’ nor have I ever mentioned it!  That was enough for me to call it a day.  The fact that they were to pay me way above the amount that I ended up quoting seemed very odd and their implication of a third party put red flashing lights in front of my eyes.  This was either a case of mistaken identity or it was a scam.   Whomever was responding had been avoiding my questions, being very vague and proceeding on without my consent!

After a little investigating I found the source of the scam and other emails directed at wedding photographers, even emails that referenced the same church, St Pauls in Bow.  THIS WEBSITE holds a whole host of emails about this particular scam targeted at wedding photographers and was enough to ensure that I ceased all contact.  I don’t know the legitimacy of this particular site either but it’s not asking me for any money so I’m going to trust it enough to at least read it’s content and proceed no further with Henry Anay!

It turns out the scam is based somewhere in Africa…they send you a cheque (which is a fake) and request monies to be wired to another account.  As the cheque is never able to be cashed the victim ends up sending their own money which will never be returned.  To be quite honest they would have failed miserably had they got any where with me, there is not enough money in my account to do that!!

It seems so obvious when you break it down like this that someone out there is having you on.  However, the initial email was tantalising enough to get my attention and many other people may have followed it up further, not realising their mistake until it was too late.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the emails I have received and spread the word so that any other photographers who get an email like this one will know to disregard it right from the off.  Naughty spammers!  Don’t let them fool you…

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