I’ve heard from a couple people (most recently Andy Anderson) that there’s a scam going around where someone will email a photographer with a 10 day shoot overseas and then ask them to pay half of a work permit to guarantee they will show up for the job. It’s more involved then that with phone calls to a real person supposedly looking to hire a photographer but the idea is to get you to pay the fee. Drop a comment if you’ve had a similar request.
Update: Another version of the scam from the comments.
Another variation is an offer of a shoot in your local area, where they will send a deposit or offer the full fee, where you would keep half the fee if the shoot is canceled. The shoot would then be canceled and they would ask that the half be returned. The original check was bogus and will bounce in about 45 days, but because of a kink in the banking system it appears to have gone through during that time. If you send the refund, you will be out that amount when the check clearing system finally runs its course and debits the bogus check amount.
I haven’t experienced this one, but a few months ago I was nearly scammed on a fine-art print order… a good sized print order came in through my website – a week later I received a cashiers check for almost double the amount of my invoice. The “client” wrote to explain that they were moving and her husband mistakenly included the shippers’ fee in my check… could I please wire the difference to the shipper so they could get started. I was totally suspicious but when the check cleared I was more convinced that it was an honest error. Just to make sure I checked with my bank and indeed, while they made the funds available, it can take up to 2 weeks for a check to clear. Sure enough, 10 days later all the money was deducted from my account. Luckily, all I lost was some time.