We recently heard from some photographers who got emails from an editor claiming to be Jack Moss from anothermag.com. “Jack” asked the photographers to produce a fashion shoot. However, some details did not quite add up; and one after another, photographers started forwarding these emails to us.
“I’m Jack, a beauty, fashion and lifestyle writer and editor at anothermag.com, a subsidiary of Dazed media and Dazed digital,” read the initial email. “I saw your profile on wonderfulmachine.com which led me to some of your work online and after going through your portfolio, I would like to learn more about your services.”
Jack was inviting photographers to “concept, shoot, and produce 36 images, featuring 3 models.” The scammer also mentioned that “you will be required to work with a company recommended hair/makeup artist and a wardrobe stylist, and bring a smart, fun approach and distinct style.” Here’s part of the PDF he sent to the photographers:
The scammer offered $3500 in photographer compensation — $1500 upfront and $2000 after the shoot — while earmarking $9500 for the total shoot budget (to include talent fees). The client would supply the wardrobe. Additionally, the photographer would hold the full image rights and said images would be posted as editorial content on AnOther Mag’s website for a year.
Here are a few of the red flags that gave away the con artist:
In doing some research, it appears that fake assignments are some of the most common scams used against creatives. In this case, the photographers were cautious and didn’t bite on the offer. What would happen if they took the gig?
If accounts of previous photographer scams can serve as an indication, the photographer would most likely receive a check from the “client.” This check would include the payment for their fee, as well as for the talent. The sender would then ask the photographer to deposit the check and promptly send a payment to the talent agency (or another service needed to prepare for the shoot). If the photographer followed these instructions, their bank would initially accept the original check, after which the photographer would dutifully send their check to the talent agency. So far, so good.
Except the agency would not be legitimate — it would be associated with the scammer. In the meantime, the photographer’s bank would discover that their check was fake and it would bounce. By that time, the real money would already have been released to the con artist, and the “editor” would disappear. Goodbye fee! Goodbye contract! Goodbye gig! Here’s what that check would look like, via Jon Morgan:
As you can see, the scammer sent Jon $7,500 to cover his upfront fee ($1,500) and the talent compensation ($6,000). A final $2,000 would be given to Jon after the work was done, bringing the total to the $9,500 mentioned in the brief.
It’s only natural for freelance photographers who are trying to market their business to share information about themselves and their work with as many people as possible. This, of course, includes strangers.
The internet provides countless legitimate business opportunities, but it’s important to be aware of the risks. Here are some precautions that can help protect yourself against photographer scams:
Last but not least, share your story — write on your blog, post on social media, talk to other photographers. There is no better way to combat scammers than to publicize what they do and make other people aware of their tricks.
Need assistance with a tough situation? Just reach out. We’re available to help with any and all pricing and negotiating needs, from small stock sales to large ad campaigns.