This past week I had the lovely experience of being contacted by a scammer. I use the term ‘lovely’ very loosely because I’m really not sure I have enough eyes to roll here...🙄
Seems that hackers, scammers and otherwise unsavory people are as active as ever these days. But, when the CEOs of the most popular social media platforms can’t even safeguard their own accounts, what do you do?
Case in point...I recently worked with a family where one of the parents was squeamish about having their photos posted and requested privacy. It wasn’t the first time I’ve encountered that either.
Yup. As common as posting photos on the internet is, some folks still shy away from it. And can you really blame them? These internet streets can get sticky sometimes. Who knows if around the next virtual social media corner is someone behind a screen ready to pounce on the details of your identity?
The decision to share or not online is completely personal. But, fortunately, I do have a good balance of families that are somewhat comfortable in our society’s culture of sharing. Otherwise, this special occasion would be on the wraps…
Isn’t this family precious? And their baby blessing ceremony was such a joyous celebration! By the end of the day, I even felt blessed!
Still, for those out there that have trust issues with the internet in general, I do get it. I find the best thing to do in any of these cases, is to stay read up and exercise some good ol’ common sense.
In my case, my personal scammer (we’ll call him Johnny), was inquiring about a photoshoot for a family event that was to happen later this month. For some photographers, that would’ve been a hard “no” as they require scheduling months in advance. But, a soon-to-be photoshoot is not really a deal-breaker for me at this time as long as it’s at least a month in advance, I have coverage for my daughter, and grades aren’t due (because #teacherlife). If I’m good to go, I let the family know. If not, I thank them for inquiring and ask them to remember me if I can be of service to them in the future.
Johnny is still on green here (in teacher speak).
At some point during our email exchange, Johnny asked for a price for the photography and whether I did video as well. I gave him my price, which was a couple hundred below his budget. I also made it clear that I wasn’t offering videography as an option at this time.
I had begun crafting my “Thank you for inquiring anyway and check back later” email when Johnny wrote me back. Imagine my surprise when Johnny didn’t disengage or ask for a referral to another photographer. 😳
Nope. Not Johnny. Johnny was fine with moving forward.
Now, that’s peculiar. I mean, I think I’m a pretty cool person too…But if you want video, you want video, right?
Nope. Wrong again. Instead, Johnny wrote that he understood and was ready to pay immediately.
Naturally, I was mildly perplexed.
While I was moving Johnny’s imaginary clothespin to yellow, he asked if I accepted credit cards. I told him I did.
And that’s when he decided to drop the hammer.
Johnny wrote that he wanted to overpay me because he also needed to pay another vendor that didn’t accept credit cards.
“Move your clothespin to red, Johnny, and I’m calling your mother at the end of the day.”
Oh wait. This isn’t really school. Right...
Well, Johnny also let it be known that due to a medical condition, he wouldn’t be able to get to the vendor himself...and blah, blah, blah.
Honestly, by this time, I had already checked out, realizing that my time had been wasted.
You see, about a month or so ago, I was reading an online article about common scams just like this one. So, I was already prepped for just such an inquiry. I told him I would not participate and immediately deleted his project before he tried to “pay” me.
One of the things I notice is that as our culture moves deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole that is online activity, we read a whole lot less and forget common sense principles that used to keep us safe. We may not be able to help all of the fumbles giant companies make with our sensitive data…
I’m looking at you, Capital One.
But, what we do have control over, we need to use our power to protect in whichever way we see fit for ourselves and our families. With that, I give you two pieces of common sense advice that has served me well over the years...
• If it’s too good to be true, it likely is.
• Reading is fundamental, kiddos. (I mean…Well, you know what I mean.)
For a few minutes, I was ticked at the amount of time I gave Johnny who was obviously trying to scam me..and I wished for an internet principal I could send him to for a time out to think about his choices. But, when the moment passed, I chose to see the positive side of it...
I’m primarily a Delaware photographer. It’s a small state, to be sure. But, I figure, if Johnny found me, I must be on somebody’s map. I sure hope they like the photos!
Have a great week and stay safe out in these internet streets!