For My Fellow Photographers – SCAM ALERT!

I am hoping that what I am about to post will save the rest of you some time.

On Saturday evening I received an inquiry regarding wedding photography, which came by way of a lead on a site I advertise with.  This came from a gentleman named Neil Datina.  I sent him a reply as follows:

Hi, Neil…

I just received your inquiry regarding your need for a wedding photographer on October 25, 2011. I am showing that as a Tuesday, and I am available that day.

Can you send me some specifics regarding the time and location of the ceremony, and your photography needs (I.e. Will you be needing pre-ceremony coverage of the bride and groom getting ready, formals of the wedding party, the ceremony itself, formals of the family and bridal party after the ceremony, and whether you will need reception coverage)?

I look forward to hearing from you so that I can put together a quote for you.  Please feel free to visit my web site, www.wall2wallphotos.com for a look at my portfolio.  I am about to upload some wedding photos of a ceremony we just finished up.

Thank you for your interest in Wall 2 Wall Photography, and have a great night!

Julie

His Response:

Hello,
           Thanks for the mail,Here is a little about the wedding.The wedding is taking place in Denver, Colorado. It is an 7 hours event starting from 9am till 4 pm. It is an indoor event which consist of 100 guest at most, I will like you to cover the reception as well which will start from 2 Pm till 4 pm on that day. The wedding date is 10/25/11. I will like the picture to be on a CD,and I don’t have a wedding planner, I plan it by myself. Please reply me by e-mail cos I am physically impaired (Hearing).
           You may think about the flight and hotel accommodation, there is provision for that , my flight agent will make arrangement for that. I think with all the details have given to you now,Calculate your fee alone, you should be able to calculate and let me know how much it will cost. Please get back to me as soon as possible.

Thanks
Best Regards

My Response and please note the information sent to him in bold letters:

Hi, Neil…

I have to tell you that I don’t make a habit of doing photos on CD, and would normally charge $50.00 per image for a CD.  For seven hours of coverage, we are looking at roughly a minimum of 200 images, which would be $10,000.00, however, I would discount this 50%, because of the bulk images, which would make the image total $5,000.00.  You could save a lot of that by receiving them all by 4×6 proof prints (for  you and your bride to keep) for $xxx.00.  You pick your favorites that you would like prints of, and I will post them on a secure directory on my web site for reprints and enlargements via secure credit card transaction, and the prints would be sent right to your door.

To have one photographer and an assistant for seven hours of coverage will run $x,xxx.00.

Travel expenses, based on Expedia and Hotwire for round trip flight, hotel and rental car will be approximately $876 to $1,100.00 (which includes airfare, hotel and car).

Travel expenses would have to be paid 100% up front as would 50% of the cost of the shoot ($x,xxx.00 for electronic images of the event, or $x,xxx.00 for 4×6 proofs).  The remaining 50% would have to be paid 30 days prior to the event (approximately September 25, 2011.)  

I do have a contract that you will need to review and sign prior to my accepting your event, and can send that to you via email in Word document or PDF format, which can be mailed back to me after signing, at which point I will block the dates on my calendar.

I do have to admit that I am curious regarding your preference for a Goldsboro, NC photographer to do the even as opposed to a Denver photographer.

Thank you, again, for contacting Wall 2 Wall Photography.  I hope that you have a wonderful evening…

Julie

I received the following email this morning:

 Hello,
      Thanks so much for the swift response, can you please let me know if there is any contract to sign ? and also I will like to know how much i need to pay as initial deposit to get the reserved by you. Cos I want you to send me a contract, you can send me your name and address for me to make arrangement and send you a check for the initial deposit.
      Concerning the flight and the hotel accommodation with the car you are to hire, I have my booking agent , he will take care of that from here and get everything done for you and will send you the booking details once the booking has been made. I will like you to send me how much you will charge for the event alone. Here is the location address that the event will take place. 3333 South Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80222

     Please get back to me soonest.

Best Regards

Now, my red flags went up the moment I saw Denver & a Tuesday wedding, but figured, what the heck, let’s follow it through and see what happens, on the off chance the guy’s legit.

So, when his final email arrived this morning, I googled the man’s name. No Neil Datina showed up anywhere. I yellow-page searched him both in Denver and Goldsboro, and no such individual, so I then googled the venue address, and spoke with one person from the city golf course (no wedding there), a restaurant that handles weddings for the local golf courses (no wedding there), and left a message with the Wellshire Inn, who does weddings and has a 3333 S. Colorado  Blvd. address.

A very nice gentleman told me that this is apparently a scam, as just today three east coast photographers had contacted him to confirm a wedding booked on Tuesday, 10/25/11 under Neil Datina.  Last week he had multiple calls from photographers in Seattle.

So a word to the wise…if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. God didn’t give us instinct for nothing. 🙂  Worried about a potential client? A little due diligence goes a long way, and if your potential client is hesitant to answer your legitimate questions, there is a good reason why.

I did send this scammer one final email, in hopes that he will realize that people are not stupid and we will check into things when it comes to our businesses (And well, yes, we’re onto him):

Dear Mr. Datina,

After doing some research on your event venue, I spoke to a gentleman from the Wellshire that has informed me that he has received several inquiries from wedding photographers calling to confirm your event date and time.

He assured me that the Datina wedding event does not exist, therefore, you will receive no further correspondence from me.

Good day.

I hope this reaches as many photographers as possible so you don’t have to waste your time.

Till next time…

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