Photographers are continually getting hit with different versions of the check swap scam. The way it works is they contact you for an assignment then send you a check that overpays for the work or pays for you and someone else they claim to be working with. Then they ask you to refund the overpayment or pass along the extra to that person they’re working with (for weddings this could be a fake florist). You cash the check and send out the payment but after your payment is cashed the check they sent you bounces.

I’ve posted about this before and people left the emails they’d gotten in the comments which seems to help thwart this because the names and emails used show up in searches with the headline “Photographer Scam.”


How is Business today?

My name is Sonia Ramirez. I am an handicap and i reside in U.K.
The reason i am contacting you is that my Son is having his birthday soon in your Location,United States on the 19th of August 2011 and I will like you to take care of the Photographs.

I came across your advert on the Internet and am impressed with your services.
All expenses would be taken care of,Please I want the best service from you, because this is my only son so i want the best for him. So your best effort is needed at this occasion.

Pls Let me know your price to work for 3 Hours on that day,12 noon to 3 pm in the afternoon.We want about 25 copies of different photos in coloured form.We want you to work for at least 3 Hours at the occasion.

Also,we will have the photographs snapped at the Birthday forwarded to the Publisher of a Magazine Company in United Kingdom so they could feature it in their celebrity journal.

I look forward to your response

Best Regards
Sonia Ramirez

From: mack carthy
Subject: Wedding
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 6:06 PM

I will like to know if you can shoot a wedding of about 100 guest. Please let me know so that I can give you details.


Recommended Posts


  1. Same scam, different approach. This scam has been used on Craigslist for years. Your usually guaranteed to get a few of these anytime you sell something on CL.

    Thanks for the posting, although I would like to think that nobody falls for this, it’s always good to have a reminder.

  2. I received one of these a long time ago. You would have to be not so smart to actually fall for it.

  3. Yep. I got that one too.

    The first 2 lines of that email screams FRAUD right from the start.

    It’s up to us to police the internet.

  4. Ive shot for Sonia Ramirez a number of times. shes a great client. She always is prompt and always overpays and asks for a refund for the overpayment. I just wait for her check to clear before I send her out my refund, but heres the rub…. I overpay HER refund, and then I bounce my check. Right up the ass

    Seriously though, if you cant smell that one coming from a mile away, then you would deserve what you get.

    The handicap part is a nice touch though I must say. I mean, its quite a carrot to dangle out in front of any photographer….. a handicap international client that is going to feature pictures you take of her son beating the shit out of a pinyata in a U.K magazines celebrity section? who in their right mind could resist that?

  5. “I came across your advert on the Internet and am impressed with your services.
    All expenses would be taken care of,Please I want the best service from you, because this is my only son so i want the best for him. So your best effort is needed at this occasion.”
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. anyone that falls for this deserves it.

  6. ..received an email asking for wedding coverage quote and emailer wanted to book the wedding date – the wedding was to take place in Washington state, I’m based in NC, so the job would include a flight, pickup from the airport and some form of lodging. All this was agreed by the “client”. Also received a phone call about the potential wedding booking. Being naturally a suspicious person and never trusting something like this out-of-the-blue, I called a few photographers based in the Washington area and asked about certain airports mentioned, hotels, etc… that was discussed in the job description. The photographers i spoke with said they knew nothing of the places described and we all agreed the whole thing was a scam. So if any photographer is asked about a photo job that just doesn’t click right, just ask the local pro where the job will be happening
    … asking the local photo pros definitely helped clear the situation and subdued a total waste of time and money. It also showed what good networking across the country can accomplish.

    “a scam is a scam” …infamous quote

  7. Yeah, these things seem to come in waves. You don’t get any for a long time, then suddenly a bunch of them appear. The foreign photo shoot one has been around a long, long time. I’ve received two scam emails this week. One a pishing scheme in the form of a phony Pay Pal notification (one of those “your account has been suspended until you update all your personal info” things and this one:


    Felicitation,,, You have been selected as the Grand recipient of the Global E-Services Reward Program. This entitles you to receive 2.5, million. Particulars of your award information is stated below:

    Reference Number: DLA-1E4

    E-ticket Number: 0902180037/A6

    Amount: 2,500,000.00 (Two Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars)

    You are to establish contact with the Enquiry Officer via the e-mail address below with the information’s necessary such as your – Name:, Address:, Phone/Fax:, Cell Phone:, Email:, Alternative Email:, Occupation:, and E-ticket number:

    Enquiry officer’s contact details: Kenneth Waters, Tel: +31-616-481-569, E-Mail: [] NOTE: You are expected to contact the Enquiry Officer for details of claims.

    Yours faithfully,

    Glenda Sebastine

    Promotions Co-ordinator

  8. I had one of these the other day – but, shockingly, the copy was excellent. Not too formal, no misspellings or grammatical errors… sounded more or less like a real person aside from the similar circumstances of the scam.

  9. personally I love playing with those emails, I email them back and see how many times I can get them to respond to me before they give up, My current record is 20 emails. I have a file of messed up id scans and all kinds of forms that can’t be read in all kinds of different ways. it can be fairly fun to mess back at them.

    • I don’t have the patience that you do, but my typical response is “F__K You!” However, see below. In that case, I am glad I did not.

  10. I get these all the time. However, recently, I received an e mail from someone with an Indian name who was from Atlanta. His English was pretty good, but not perfect, which made me think it was a scam right from the get go. I read a little bit more and when he started asking for 3 days of shooting and about 15 to 18 hours of photography, I was about to hit the delete button when I read it aloud to my studio manager. She said, “Wait!!! Indian weddings do require several days of shooting, this might be a real job!”

    We called the client, and it turned out to be a real job. We didn’t get it, but it was a $8000., estimate and we were close to getting it. (I guess photographers who specialize in Indian weddings invoice for a lot of $$$$)

    So the moral of the story is to read these and be careful.

    Also, just spoke with a food photographer who was hired by a celebrity to shoot a cookbook. She had the same reaction and almost hit delete but e mailed the “celebrity” back to see if it was a real job. It was. So much business happens over e mail these days it’s incredible. But those scams have been going to photographers for years now.

  11. Here’s one to watch for that happened to me recently. It’s a very serious problem. It’s sad that someone would take advantage of honest people looking for work.

    Someone unscrupulously used my name and website in an overpayment and identity theft scam. I turned it into the FBI ( ), Craigslist, and gmail and hotmail since they were using accounts from there as well as contacting my state’s DOJ. I only learned about it when people started contacting me through my email address and phone number on my contact page to ask if I had posted the job opening on Craig’s List. I’ve never purchased nor sold anything on CL. ( I heard from about forty people in about 15 states, probably just a fraction of the people that got caught up in the scam.)
    Notice how the name is misspelled by one letter. That way it’s technically not my legal name. Another sign it was happening was a huge spike in the Google stats.

    Here’s the communication to the applicants. They did send them a cashiers check and if cashed it would put the person on the hook when the bank discovered the fraud.

    It’s not a new scam though. A friend found this on Yahoo.

    Same form letter, different “employer” and occupation.
    I’ve redacted innocent peoples names below.

    Michael ( the real one )


    Subject: RE: Admin Assistant
    Date: Tue, 17 May 2011 12:30:54 -0600

    Hello Applicant,

    Hope you’re having a pleasant day today? You contacted me applying for the position which I advertised on Craigslist. Do take time to go through this introductory mail and feel free to pass any questions on.

    Micheal Jones is My name.I have been a photographer for over 25years and also has been teaching photography for 10 years. I bring a unique teaching style to students which will guarantee creative and fun learning by all student photographers while elevating them to new, exciting photographic heights that they have only dreamed of. I also create landscapes which I try to transmit to the viewer a set of feelings. These feelings vary widely, and can include things like hot, cold, happiness, sadness, excitement, purity, serenity, textural feelings like rough or smooth, peacefulness, surprise, excitement, love, power and myriads more. I also produce images that show the personality of animals in the environment they inhabit. I want the image to give a feeling to the viewer that he or she is communicating with a different species through the image.

    I consider Photography an interactive and dynamic process between the artist and the viewer. As such, I strive to capture the attention of the viewer in such a way that the viewer feels an irresistible invitation to fully explore each image and to share the vision, the message and the feelings that the image represents I often conduct LIVE slide/talk lectures on Understanding Exposure, the Art of Seeing, Macro Photography and Photographing People throughout the states, Great Britain, Canada and Asia. At the moment, I am in a work-shop in the Great Britain. I will be here for a month.


    While I am out of the states I need some one who can stand in the gap for me. His/her duties will be the following

    1.To receive letters and mails on my behalf.
    2.Receive checks and money orders from clients who want to attend the forth coming workshops or Live shows.
    3.Schedule appointments for me.
    4.Book my flight tickets.
    5.Send letters and mails from my clients.

    This position is home-based and flexible part time job, you can be in any location to carry out any of the activities. All you need do is to check your emails twice daily and keep your phone on most times in case I might need to call you from anywhere I may be.I do have a number of things you could help me with this week if you will be available to start. This can act as a stable foundation to our working relationship. Let me know if you have any of the office equipments (If not, I will make arrangements to send them to your address)

    Personal Laptop/Desktop:
    Internet Access:
    Fax machine:
    Paper Cutter:

    For proper review(since I am not available now to set up a face-to-face interview) supply out correctly the information below….(Even if you have it in your resume)

    FIRST NAME …………………. SURNAME……………….
    CITY …………STATE……………………….
    ZIP CODE…………COUNTRY………………
    PHONE NUMBER (S) ……………………

    Scanned copy of your ID: (You can provide that later when you are employed)
    Note: It will be of added advantage if you can provide 2 references from your past employments.


    1.Educational background is not a criteria.
    2.You must be Organized and able to take instructions well Dependable, Reliable, Trustworthy a must
    3.Must have excellent English language skills (both spoken and written)
    4.Have great work ethic and attitude, as well as people skills, pay-attention to detail, capable of multi-tasking, and works well understress at times.


    – Yearly performance bonus
    – Paid vacation/sick/personal days
    – Medical benefits


    $500 weekly($2,000 monthly)
    Also,there will be compensation for efficiency and hard working.

    Micheal Jones
    This message came shortly after they were awarded the job.

    ” From: Micheal Jones
    Date: 5/15/2011 6:29:30 PM
    Subject: Confirmation and Approval !!!

    Hello Applicant,

    Hope you are having a pleasant day today. I received your e-mail and it was a pleasure hearing back from you. I hope this marks the beginning of a good working relationship all together. From the details you have sent to me, I would want to give you the opportunity to be my new assistant; I do hope my decision will be worthwhile? I’ll be using the next couple of days to test your efficiency and diligence towards this, also to work out your time schedule and fit it to mine. I really need to find the perfect person for this job, I’m confident you can take up the challenge and on the long run we should have a relatively sound working relationship between us.

    I hope we can get a head start with things as soon as possible. I have had to put a hold on a lot and i would appreciate it if you can be available for me immediately. I do have a couple of urgent tasks for you which will include you making some purchases and payments on my behalf. You will receive a check via courier services which will also cover your wage for the week as well as all other purchases and payments needed to be made on my behalf. I will update you further on this and will give you a comprehensive list on how to go about them.

    Kindly reply this e-mail as soon as possible to further signify your interests in working with me. I have confidence in you and I am looking forward to a good working relationship between us. I hope you will be up to, perhaps better than my presumptions about you.

    Please get back to me as soon as possible so that I can prepare an employment agreement for both of us to complete duly.

    Micheal Jones

    And then this.
    ” From: Micheal Jones
    Date: 6/1/2011 11:35:00 AM

    Hello xxxx,

    Thanks for confirming the delivery of the Check.I’ll want to assure you again that this is legal as i can never do anything ilegal.I hope you get my email about the newly bought office in MA. Kindly take the check ($3100) to your bank to deposit and withdraw the funds for the task.Below is the acting manager’s western union details you would be sending the remaining of the funds after you must have deducted your $500 so do follow instructions accordingly and get back to me with details of the transaction.

    Western Union Details For MA Office

    xxxx xxxxxx
    31 xxxx Dr,
    xxxx MA, 00000

    Kindly provide me with the MTCN NUMBER for the transaction as shown on the western union receipt. MTCN is a 10digit transaction confirmation number on the western union receipt and the amount to pick up

    I will wait to read from you as soon as you have the funds transfered.

    Micheal Jones.

  12. I’ve recently received the following email which sounded like a scam from the very beginning. I still wrote back with further questions for the “client” which where all answered but I am still sure this is a scam:


    I am Mr Serge KASSA owner of a chain of supermarkets and hotels based COTE D’IVOIRE specifically West Africa.

    I got your web link through my secretary that I was asked to conduct research so that you can cover the wedding of my eldest daughter in MOROCCO and therefore I would like to contact you.

    I would like to know if you’d be available for the dates of 10 to 11 September 2011, for the wedding festivities. If so please send me the benefits you can offer me and the various forms of it and of course those with the amounts according to your normal working conditions, knowing that I take in my office accommodation restore your movement and your A/R Casablanca (MOROCCO).

    Also note that the festivities will involve two dates (the 10th and the other Sept. 11).

    Also, my home is the place to CASABLANCA holidays, because my garden is large enough to accommodate all my guests (110 in total).

    For more info my number is 00225 67 51 21 57.Please also check the conditions of entry in MOROCCO, given the short time we have.

    PS: I speak french only please try a person who speak french correctly for to call me

    Waiting for a quick answer from you.


    Mr Serge KASSA
    Owner of ETS KASSA
    00225 67 51 21 57″

  13. I’d be very surprised to find anyone resident in the UK who has the last name of Ramirez. We’re primarily an Anglo Saxon/Protestant country and have no historical link with any Hispanic countries whatsoever, apart from a brief connection to Argentina in the 19th century.

    • I’ve met two Peruvians since I moved to England, and have a family friend from Spain… and this is in Norwich. The UK is pretty diverse.

      • Yeah, it wasn’t meant literally. My point was that Ramirez is not exactly a name that is native to the UK so why not pick a name that is, like, say, John Smith.

        Also, who writes these emails? They read like they were written by a non-English speaking computer that just swallowed an English dictionary.

  14. So far I haven’t recieved a legitimate job offer from emails like this. I usually recieve the emails around the first three months of the year. Some from the UK some from various locations throughout the US. I’ve always given at least one email reply asking to talk to the client in order to verify their needs and if they would provide a phone number and a time to call so as to not be to intrusive. To date, I have never received a reply providing a numer to call.

    I would be happy to recieve legit offers too!

  15. Wow some of those emails are hilarious. I get them once and awhile too but stopped reading them a long time ago. Never trust anybody from craigslist for one, and africa for another. Its too bad there are scammers like that – and while most of us are smart enough to see it for what it is, I bet they still manage to scam money out of honest but naive people. Its WAY worst on dating sites!

  16. People fall for this? When it comes to doing business over the internet, if proper grammar doesn’t exist neither does the business.

  17. Just got one today from this name/address: Timbertly Hart,

    It strikes me as comical how horrible the grammar is in these e-mails.

    • Here’s the scam e-mail:

      My name is Timberly ,i live in Bradfordsville KY(USA).I am presently in Wimbledon,London (UK) but probably will be moving back home soon and i’ll be getting married shortly after my arrival in the states to my fiance Chris Boyd. We will need a wedding/party Photographer to help us in making up our ceremony from the church to the hotel reception.We will like to find out what your plans are for Saturday, AUG 27th,2011. This is the date of our wedding so kindly let us know your availability for this day.We’ll take responsibility for your expenses regarding our plans.we might not be able to meet you soon as planned,due to our unavailability in the states but,we are willing to retain the date, that’s to make deposit for booking prior to our arrival to be sure we are interested in your service,if we really are.
      Waiting to get your response.


  18. Had this happen to me about 5 years back. The guy went by some corny name and had some ridiculous job like a paleontologist or something in Portland, OR. I received a check from some school in Pennsylvania and was told to cash the check, keep my portion, and return the rest. I asked the guy to call me several times with no response. I obviously knew it was shady and said something to the bank teller when I went to cash the check. She told me if it sat in my account for 5 days and cleared that it would be all good. So I decided to ride it out and see what happened because there would be no effect on me. The check cleared after 5 days and then a few days later my account was a few thousand dollars in the red. Not only that, but the bank still held me responsible for the funds. It was Wells Fargo by the way. Total nightmare of a situation.

  19. Hello, Photographers
    I have received many e mails from “Timbertly Hart” I know this person is trying to scam. Do not waste yorur tie even answering this person
    Kind regards
    Florine Duffield

  20. sorry but if you fall for these you deserve it.

Comments are closed for this article!