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Scam you Scammer!

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This has to be one of the most elaborate cases of fraud I have seen.  I have been corresponding with “Joe” regarding a Wedding Anniversary I was commissioned to shoot at the end of the month. He contacted me through the PPA database and even included a detailed background of why he and his wife are relocating to Chicago (providing a specific address to their new home).  He even sent me pictures of himself with his wife just so I could get a feel for them as a couple. I was convinced that this was a normal client and was happy to think my PPA membership was being put to great use.

Everything was fine when he had asked for a deposit amount and I requested only $200. But when I received the checks today and saw I had 3 money orders for the amount of $3,000 I knew something was wrong.  My heart skipped a beat and I knew that the wool had been pulled over my eyes.  Feeling completely embarrassed I remembered that I hadn’t lost anything but time spent corresponding to eachother.  After reviewing the money orders it was obvious that they were falsified as the back of every money order printed the actual amount of $12.34! This little tip was provided by the friendly bank employees which reviewed the money orders with me. The front of the money order looks completely real and offers no clue that it was modified.

This scam is nothing new but the length of conversations we had was very alarming. We corresponded over 10 times over the course of 3 weeks  and every time I saw no flaws.  I can see this type of attack happening to more people and because of the rich database of PPA Members it’s easy to make several attacks daily.

I have attached the first email in hopes that no one will actually fall victim to this scam.

Greetings! .

My name is Joe and my wife’s name is Pamela, we live and work as wine producers in Malaysia and will be relocating to the State of Illinois,USA on the 23rd of December,2009.

Could you please spare a few seconds to view our website :

I came across your contact information on and I hereby write to request if you will be available to offer 4hours of photographic services for the celebration of our 5th Wedding Anniversary on our arrival to the States. Myself,my wife,my lovely daughter-Debbie and about 12 family members and friends will be present.

Could you please provide answers to these questions if you are interested in this offer

1)Will you be available to provide this service on any date between December 26th and December 31st if so which exact date will you have time so as to include this in our plan?

2)What is your address location in the State of Illinois so as to estimate how close you are to us ?

Should you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact me on my phone no :0116017330545


Joe J Akins

Winery Headquarters

92 Jalan Keranji,

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

  • December 15, 2009 - 12:43 pm

    melissa diep - wow! this sounds crazy!!! what’s the ppa going to do about such scam?ReplyCancel

  • December 15, 2009 - 1:05 pm

    Peggy - Good catch!! How crazy is that? Fie on them for messing with small business owners.ReplyCancel

  • December 15, 2009 - 3:54 pm

    Robyn - I had four of those kinds of people contact me when I first started business and signed up thru PPA a couple of years ago. I reported them all but nothing can ever really be done. =(

    I would hope photographers are smart enough to only accept checks and paypal or something similar.

    I actually started requiring all final payments due four weeks before an event in order to protect myself or at least feel that way. 😉ReplyCancel

  • December 21, 2009 - 12:24 am

    Kim - Yuck, sorry to hear about these slimey people wasting your time. Hope your year ends on a much better note! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • January 4, 2010 - 7:31 pm

    Tess - Creeps! I don’t trust anyone who starts a conversation with “greetings!” seems like a shady character to me. I’m glad you caught it…what would have happened had you cashed the checks? I wonder if they got your personal info somehow? I’m concerned…

    love, TessReplyCancel

  • January 7, 2010 - 4:52 pm

    Shanti Minkstein - Same exact thing happend to me… including the same word for word correspondence. I too just recieved the $3000 worth of check in the mail today and thankful for the red flag. I just learned a valuable lesson to be more cautious and listen to my instincts. Thank you for posting your experience.ReplyCancel