Major Scam Artists approaching Freelancing, tFS Members!
If you are a stylist, a makeup or hair artist, a photographer or a model (or anyone else that works freelance) and you have a link to your site in your signature or perhaps have mentioned what you do in your profile ... please read this to protect yourself!
I am aware of this type of scam which has been circulating in the freelance community for some time. Today ... I got one of their emails and they said they found my profile here, on the Fashion Spot. Fortunately, I am fully aware of the details of this scam ... sort of a web spin on the old "pigeon drop" which has been around for probably more than a century.
It is one of those "too good to be true" scenarios ... and it really is too good to be true.
However ... the name changes all the time ... one week it's Justine, next week it will be Joe Blow. So it's the scam that is important to recognize ... not the name being used.
Here is the "approach" in a nutshell:
They say they saw my profile or website and offer a huge job, sight unseen. The pay is huge 22,000 pounds sterling plus all my costs to get and stay there ... for a 12 day gig in the UK ... I am to bring 2 assistants and they will advance me 50% of the money so I can book airfares and hotels. This is very similar to other approaches I've seen ... sometimes it's a model or a celebrity, sometimes it's a bride with a huge destination wedding. It always takes you a long, long way from home so they can justify lot's of money. They alway need you within the next 2 weeks ... always urgent. They never ask for references ... they just find you on the net.
Here's how it works:
They send you this huge "bank" check, in advance which you deposit in the bank and book your flights, hotel, etc. Then a day or two after you make that deposit, they contact you with an sudden problem/emergency. It can be that they sent you too much money by accident and you need to return part of it, or someone's been in an accident, or it's suddenly been cancelled. However, they are "generous" ... and say you may keep a very large portion of the money but ask you kindly to wire the balance back, immediatley (it is an "emergency", after all ... one that usualy tugs at your heart strings). So, thinking that you got a bank check and that you are doing the right thing, you wire the excess funds back to them.
Here's where you loose your money: The "bank" or "cashiers" check iscounterfeit and it will be returned unpaid/ bounce! It is not a real check. Your bank gets the unpaid "bank" check back in about 7 to 10 days .. and takes the money back out of your account. Only one problem .... You have already wired part of that money back to the scam artists in some foreign country ... wires cannot ever be retreived or stopped. You loose the money that you wiredback ... you have never been paid one cent, in all reality.
What Can you do?
It is amost impossible to prosecute these people who do this ... they are not even in the country they say they are in. US and laws of other countries do not cover this type of crime, in most cases. Often, it's another Nigerian crime sydicate preying on you. Theefore, the only way to protect yourself is to learn about these scams and not to do business over the net until you actually know the people involved.
If it seems too good to be true .... it probalby is! Don't Fall for internet scams!
Amusing variation on a Nigerian theme. Some people might bank it, pull the cash or transfer it and then tell their bankers to take a running jump through a rolling doughnut when they ask for the money back, on the grounds of their tort in accepting the cheque at face value. One might lodge a formal complaint against one's bank for incompetence. As for the scamsters, one could copy them in on the e-mail or letter to one's bankers or, rather, so-to-be one's ex-bankers. For £22,000, some people might deem it worth having to change banks. But you would be advised to open up a couple of alternative bank accounts. That said, knowing how bankers think, you might find that after lodging a complaint against them and making a scandal, you were able to negotiate a deal whereby you replay half the money and they bear the rest of the cost. But this is all dependent upon the counterfeit cheque making it through the system far enough for the funds to be released into your account, which would strongly imply negligence on the part of one or other of the banks involved.
__________________ Fashion is something barbarous, for it produces innovation without reason and imitation without benefit (George Santayana) - http://prosperkeating.com
Possibly you could hang the bank with it, I agree. But probably not a wise move. Better to try to work it out with your bank ... sometimes they will settle.
But the bank bears no responsiblity for letting you know if the check is valid or not. Letting you have the cash before the check is paid, is a type of loan. Legally it is your responsibility to cover all bad checks that you have deposited ... at least in the U.S. And if you look at the paperwork that you signed (signature cards, agreements, etc.) when you opened your account it probably states that, so you have also been put on notice that it is your responsibility.
You would be required by law and contract to pay the bank back ... or, for any substantial amount of money, they would prosecute you and possibly bring it to the attention of the local police, charging you with fraud and for being part of the scam (depositing bad checks and then wiring the money out of the country). So I strongly recommend that someone not consider stiffing your bank as a viable solution to being caught in a scam.
I would suggest that anyone caught short by something like this consult an attorney immediately ... not to get the scammers, but to protect themselves and to negotiate a settlement with their bank. It's gonna cost you ... no matter what. Even if the bank looses in court .... it will also cost you in time and sapped energy.
I know this ... because, in my prior career ... I was a Banking Operations Officer and was in charge of the deposit and accounts departments of several banks over the course of my banking career.
My friend recieved an E-mail like this few years ago........he was selling his classic motorcycle.....the buyer offered more than the asking price because he didn't want it be sold out from underneath him.....two days later his wife was in a horrible accident and asked for the money back because his wife was dying. My friend told the the man "when the check clears I'll send you the money"......needless to say that was Mr. Nigeria's last contact
With some common sense most scams can be detected.
It's very important is to never pay anything before being absolutely sure that what you pay for is legit and useful.
The so-called Nigerian modeling scam scheme is well known and new variants appear from time to time.
Remember that those who have money book (major) agency models and those who don't have any budget book local models (or model wannabees) who often don't even get paid.
Unless you're with a known agency you simply don't get booked directly, no one will book you without having seen you before, so don't expect to be flown overseas for free. Profesionally speaking it's far less risky to work with an agency model than with an unknown newbie.
Another obvious red flag: Why should an "agency" suddenly propose you by e-mail to do a show in a city far away from where you live?
Also there are no real fashion weeks in the middle of nowhere.
Overall there are many signs which allow to detect a scam.It's just very important to not be excited about those too-good-to-be-true offers.
Don't rely on websites, some legit known agencies have awfully bad websites while some scam agencies have great looking ones.
There's also a gray zone of proposals which are not really scams but which still allow you to waste your money (the lottery too is not a scam though in most cases you just lose your money).