Warning: New Scam Targets Professional Photographers
In a new twist on an old scam, con artists are now targeting professional photographers with a variation on the popular "funds forwarding" scheme.
Also known as a "Nigerian" or "4-1-9" scam, the fund forwarding scheme is relatively simple in principle. As an example, the photographer is contacted by e-mail from someone out of the country asking for pricing information for their wedding. Once the photographer sets a price for coverage, the con artist offers to retain the photographer’s services - and sends a check for an amount well above the cost of the wedding coverage. The con artist then requests that the photographer forward the overage of the funds via wire transfer to the minister conducting the ceremony, who is also in another country. For example, if the photography fee is $1,000, the con artist sends a check for $5,000 and asks that $4,000 be forwarded.
The check, of course, will bounce - but the victim will not receive that notification for up to 14 days. In the meantime, the con artist has pocketed $4,000 that was wired to them and disappeared.
In a more violent version of this scam the victim is encouraged to travel outside the country to cover the event, and subsequently held hostage until the con artists empty the victim’s bank accounts. The U.S. Secret Service reports that at least one U.S. citizen has been murdered and several other individuals have been listed as missing after traveling in pursuit of such schemes.
For more information on the "classic" version of this scam go to: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/nigeralrt.htm
If you have been contacted by e-mail with such a scam, please notify authorities by forwarding the e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have lost money on this type of scam, please contact the nearest U.S. Secret Service field office immediately. A list is found here: http://www.secretservice.gov/field_offices.shtml