Wedding photographer left $4,600 in debt after “overpayment scam”

Sep 5, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Wedding photographer left $4,600 in debt after “overpayment scam”

Sep 5, 2019

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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British Columbia-based wedding photographer was recently a victim to a scam which left her in $4,600 debt to her bank. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), she is not the only one. The same kind of scam has cost victims close to $5 million this year, so photographers, pay close attention.

The photographer, Esther Moerman, told her story to Global News. She says that someone texted her to ask about her wedding photography services, claiming that their daughter was getting married in Vancouver. After making an agreement, she asked for a down payment of $700 and a signed contract. The scammer then mailed her a check in the amount of $5,500, which is more than her actual rate. And this “overpayment” is actually the core of the scam.

The scammer told Moerman that it was “an accounting error,” according to Global News. They reportedly told her to send the remaining funds to the third party – the wedding caterer. She agreed and made a mobile deposit through her bank. She says that it showed $5,500 in the green in her account, and then she sent the money over.

However, a few days later, the check bounced and it was determined to be fraudulent. And it appears that this “overpayment” or “overspending” scam is a fairly common practice among scammers. As I mentioned, it has cost victims almost $5 million this year. The scammer pays for a service or product with a check in the amount higher than agreed. Then the victim returns the remaining funds, and once the check is deemed fraudulent, the victim is left with a debt to their bank.

Moerman says that her bank credited her $900 as a goodwill gesture, and this amount was never sent to the fraudster. However, she still owes $4,600. “I’ve had my business going for three years with many ups and downs and this is by far the biggest down point that I’ve had,” Moerman told Global News.

Unfortunately, there are all sorts of scams people will come up with to take your money. But overpayment is always one of the signs that something is fishy. Global News reports The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s recommendations for increased safety. They recommend that you should protect yourself by knowing who you are doing business with. They also warn that overpayment is a suspicious sign, and note that you shouldn’t accept checks for more than your selling price. On top of this, the BBB also warns that “a legitimate company will never ask someone to forward money.”

[via Global News]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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34 responses to “Wedding photographer left $4,600 in debt after “overpayment scam””

  1. Adrian J Nyaoi Avatar
    Adrian J Nyaoi

    This is a very old scam

  2. Alexandre Ayoubi Avatar
    Alexandre Ayoubi

    I’m in the IT, so i can sniff the odor of this kind of scam from light years away.
    If you do business and you get overpaid, you wait at least the maximum delay where a check can bounce before anything.

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Alexandre, I don’t think anyone has to be in IT to not be an idiot.

    2. Alexandre Ayoubi Avatar
      Alexandre Ayoubi

      Johnny Martyr yes i know, that was not the point.

  3. John G Schickler Avatar
    John G Schickler

    Wow. Feel for an old scam. Just stupid on the part of the photographer.

    1. manofredearth Avatar

      Stupid on the part of the criminal, never blame the target. That’s like saying people who get raped deserve it because rape has been around forever and no one should put themselves in that situation.

  4. Andy Charles Avatar
    Andy Charles

    Surely she should have told the “client” she’d send the money over once the cheque cleared, unfortunately this is her own fault for not using common sense.

    1. Robert Thivierge Avatar
      Robert Thivierge

      She was probably told the cheque did clear. Typically the cheque is accepted by the bank. The funds are “cleared”, so people can even withdraw the money. The counterfeit cheques are often drawn on real back accounts with adequate funds. But some time later the cheque comes back as fraudulent.

    2. manofredearth Avatar

      The check DID clear initially. Do you support rapists if the target is wearing a skirt, just asking for it? Despicable to blame the target and not the criminals like some new-wave conservative.

  5. Sergi Yavorski Avatar
    Sergi Yavorski

    Never accept personal solved

    1. Johnny Martyr Avatar
      Johnny Martyr

      Sergi, in business? You don’t want to accept personal checks? ?

      1. K Avatar

        Our business doesnt. Unless it a certified cheque from the bank for an estate.

  6. Josh Feres Avatar
    Josh Feres

    Couldn’t the bank just find out where the money went, who owns that account, and get the money back that way?

    1. FeRD Avatar

      Unfortunately, probably not, since her payout was a legitimate funds transfer, that they tricked her into making. That’s the essence of the scam: turning a fraudulent check into someone else’s real money, then making off with it before they catch on.

      When she forwarded the funds out of her account, she used her own account to guarantee the availability of the balance. Whoever received it is surely long gone with the money. Think of it like writing a check made out to “CASH”. There’s no way to reverse that after the recipient cashes it. Especially since it’s not fraudulent — unlike the original check.

      There might be some way for law enforcement to investigate and try to nab those running the scam, but they may very well be out of the country and far beyond their reach. Her bank just wants the $5500 it’s owed — and the only person with any obligations to them is her (through her account agreement).

  7. paul Avatar

    Yeah, I don’t feel bad for her as this is obviously a dupe. It was attempted on me more than once, but common sense sent warning flag instantly. NOBODY is going to accidentally send you more than you ask, or offer more than the asking price or whatever. I feel bad for people that get scammed, but because they were stupid, not a victim.

    1. Jessica Avatar

      Why so toxic “Paul”. A quick look at your posting history shows that YOU are likely the “stupid” one. You’ve never posted a positive comment. There is something to be said about someone that is always unhappy. I bet you are a habitual bad reviewer, no? Someone being ignorant of a scam means that they deserve whatever atrocious acts bestowed upon them? Really? With that attitude, I wonder what your life looks like.

      1. paul Avatar

        I’m glad you have an interest in my life. I’m sorry you feel that showing how ignorant and gullible people are somehow makes you happy?? Maybe you like hearing about Nigerians who scam people with gift cards too? Me I find it nothing but click bait and a waste of time to read, which makes me angry that this kind of thing is put in a photography site, instead of just writing about stuff that actually makes sense, you know on a photography site. . Just because someone got ripped off for falling for a stupid scam, (because they have no common sense), doesn’t mean it’s ‘news’ and requires writing an article about it. Besides, I’m just here to make people like you call others stupid. Hypocrite. Have a nice day Jessica.

  8. Les Cameron Avatar
    Les Cameron

    this is the old advance fee scam – which takes advantage of basic human nature and is still very common (so smart/stupid doesn’t enter into the equation) – the article points out that the typical scam involves someone (Person A) doing work at an agreed upon rate (e.g. $100) and then receives a check for more than the agreed upon rate (e.g. $200) – with instructions to cash the check and then send the overage to someone else – then off course the check is bad and the bank holds Person A responsible. Technology has upgraded the sophistication of these scams – and they aren’t likely to go away anytime soon …

    1. Freelance cameraman China/HK Avatar
      Freelance cameraman China/HK

      Good reading on Wiki with all variant,

  9. madconfusion Avatar

    Wow, thanks for writing an article that sounds like it’s from 2001. You’d better warn people about the ‘new’ Nigerian prince email scam too.

  10. Taz Avatar

    Sorry, not sorry. Anyone who falls for this scam in 2019 – unless theyve been in a coma for the past 20 years – deserves to lose their money. If I were her bank, I wouldn’t even have given her the $900.

    1. manofredearth Avatar

      Rape is ok if they wear skimpy clothes, right? People like you are despicable, blaming the target and celebrating criminals.

      1. Gibscreen Avatar

        That’s a bit extreme.

        The point is this scam is about as well known as the Saudi Prince spam email scam. So there’s no victim. Just an idiot.

        1. Top Rock Photography Avatar
          Top Rock Photography

          Rape is also well known. The point is valid.

  11. Walker Hall Avatar
    Walker Hall

    Always send the check back, and ask for a new one for the correct amount. If they refuse, stand firm, and send it back anyway. 99 percent of the time it will be a scam anyway.

  12. Neil Smith Avatar
    Neil Smith

    This scam has been around for years and one I receive weekly. It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone dumb enough to fall for it.

  13. ?dancy7? Avatar

    As someone who gets scam ‘nephew/grandson needs money’ calls every year, I keep apprised of most known scams. Checks like this, ignore or just wait til they clear. Or tell the sender you’re keeping the overage for fun. Call or text will be over in minutes.

  14. Kamika McLarty Avatar
    Kamika McLarty

    I have twice been offered overpayment cheques when selling on Kijiji. Both times I did not accept but now I starts my adds with “no cheques or money orders accepted” as it looks like they also prey on sellers on this platform.

  15. Gibscreen Avatar

    Why would she owe the bank $4600? The check bounced. Unless she withdrew it in which case of course she owes it back. But she never did the photography job. So she’s not out anything since they credited her the $900.

    Seriously though what idiot sends a refund before they know the check cleared? The bank was too nice to this idiot.

    1. Kam642 Avatar

      She did effectively withdraw it, buy sending $4800 to the “wedding caterer” (the scammer). Apparently that left her with only $200 in her account, if she still owes $4600 [which doesn’t exactly add up if the bank did credit her $900, she must have spent some of the money on (non-scam) stuff]

  16. Trino Pam Avatar
    Trino Pam

    People still use checks????

  17. suruha Avatar

    Years ago, my husband’s boss paid him in checks. On payday, we would deposit the check and start paying bills and buying groceries. Then, some of his checks began bouncing. It was a fairly new business and his boss was still learning, himself. However, not only were we out the money with our bank, but, every single place we had written checks to, as well!
    The boss always made my husband’s money right, but, it took us two times of pure chaos to start cashing the checks at a grocery store, then, depositing that money into our bank. We still had to make the grocery store ‘right’ if any check bounced from his boss, but, everything else was safe!

  18. Nick Avatar

    I have seen this one before and was able to shut it down before anyone lost any money.