Another scam aiming at photographers has been going around lately. Sadly, it’s pretty believable and seems legit, so it’s easy to fall for it. Frederik Trovatten was recently targeted by a scammer claiming to be a National Geographic photographer, and he shares his experience in order to warn all of you.
It started when someone pretending to be famous NatGeo photographer Enric Sala reached out to Frederik. They asked if he was available to come to Iceland with them or NatGeo on short notice. Frederik was excited and honored, as probably all of us would be, so he asked for more information.
“Enric” then sent him an elaborate 7-day shooting plan, lining in detail what would happen each day, on an hourly time slot. It was “super detailed,” as Frederik notes, so it sounded amazing and most of all – believable.
“I was thrilled and impressed by the plan,” Frederik writes on Reddit. And after learning the details of the shoot, it became fishy. “Once I accepted the offer he let me know a small detail. Just one thing,” the photographer writes. “He [thought] I was American and because I wasn’t I had to send a small deposit since they didn’t have legal agreements with Europeans, in case I bailed last minute and let him and his team hang.” And it’s wasn’t actually a small sum – it was €600 (around $700)!
That’s a clear red flag right there. But excitement can do wonders and make you blind to warning signs like this. So Frederik still thought that it all made sense and he was still considering the offer. Thankfully, he slept on it. He was calmer and clear-headed the next, he started Googling, and he discovered that it was all a scam.
“It turns out NatGeo has already made a warning on its website about a scam involving an impersonator pretending to be Enric Sala,” Frederik writes. There’s a banner on NatGeo’s page about Sala reading the following:
Please be aware: scammers have attempted to use Enric Sala’s name to solicit personal and financial information under the guise of National Geographic grant opportunities. National Geographic Explorers will never ask you for your personal financial information. We urge you not to share your personal or financial information with anyone unless you are certain who they are.
“Just wanted to give you guys (and the search engines) this warning in case someone is lured into this and blinded by the excitement,” Frederik concludes. And this is why we shared this story, too.
As I mentioned, it’s easy to get too excited and miss the red flags. In moments like that, you could fall for a scam even if there’s a clear sign that something’s wrong. Job scams like this often don’t have a clear timeline nor shooting plan. However, this one seems highly believable until they ask for a deposit, but by this time – you may already be too excited to think clearly.
So, be aware that this is going around and ignore “job offers” until you do thorough research. Even if a potential gig seems highly legit, sleep on it before you make the decision. And no matter how thrilled you are, keep in mind: if they ask for money to hire you, snap out of it, it’s most likely a scam.
While writing this article, I discovered that there have been other scams, mainly targeting National Geographic magazine readers. NatGeo notes them here, so check those out too, they might be of use.