We’ve all seen or been involved in different kinds of scams. Reddit user snarko7 draws our attention to a collaboration offer targeted at photographers that may be one of them. Although it will cost you only $14 if you fall for it, there’s a lesson behind it. It will help you if anything similar happens to you, with more money involved.
This person says a camera bag company reached out to them with a collaboration proposal. They offered to send a free bag as a gift, and Snarko7 was only supposed to take five photos of their bags for $250 each. The trick is that the photographer was only required to pay $14 of shipping cost in advance, and the company would allegedly send the bag. “I assume the bag would never arrive and I’m 100% sure I’d never get paid,” the photographer writes.
In the correspondence with the company, the red flags reportedly just kept coming. First of all, they got in touch via email and told the photographer to reach out to their social media manager. “Why didn’t they just do the business entirely on email?” snarko7 wonders. Then, there is a Terms and Conditions page on the company’s website, but no formal acceptance of it nor the actual contract for the work to be done. They also reportedly provided a 100% discount code that wasn’t unique.
The major red flag for me personally is that the company asked for shipping to be paid in advance. “Red Flag – never pay to work,” snarko7 warns. And lastly, when the photographer pressed them about it, they allegedly pushed back.
“Shipping you have to pay yourself and the company covers the product costs. In this way, the company can make sure that the influencer has a serious interest in the product and cooperation, because many influencers who demand everything for free, receive the product and eventually disappear and no longer respond to letters. This is a standard procedure and generally accepted practice in collaborations and social media promotions when both parties are involved in the deal.”
Commenting on the company’s response, the photographer points out that “all this is solvable with a real business contract.”
Now, I was never offered to promote, shoot or review a product as “an influencer” since I’m not one. But I did reviews as a part of DIYP and companies would always cover the shipping costs, even though I live in Serbia and it’s not cheap to send anything from, say, the US. I can’t and won’t claim this is a scam, but it does seem fishy. Reddit users seem to be on the same side and they agreed with the creator of this post.
“Advance fee is ALWAYS a scam,” writes TinfoilCamera, adding another version of this “advance fee scam:”
“The other variation of this is ‘Since we’re outside your country we’ll send you a cashier’s check for (a lot more than the fee ) so you can pay the models and pay for the venue. Send these amounts to these recipients: blah blah’
What happens is you deposit the ‘cashier’s check’, you send the amounts to the ‘model’ and the ‘venue’ — who just turn out to be forwarders back to the scammer. The cashier’s check of course bounces 2 or 3 days later and they all come after you for that money.”
We wrote about similar scams here and here, as well as an “overpayment scam” that could leave you in a huge debt. The bottom line is – you should never pay to work and never pay a fee in advance for collaborations. This time it’s only $14, but in some cases you may end up paying a lot more. So, always be reasonably suspicious and skeptical and do a thorough background check even if everything seems legit. Just to be safe.