March 2015 1 post

Advance fee fraud targeted against local photographers

Monday, March 9, 2015

I received a suspicious email a month ago via A Tale Ahead Photography's contact form:

From: Thomas Taylor <>


How are you doing ?,i will like to know your availability day in
Feb,2015 just 4 hours service,also i will need portrait work done after
the photography work is done after the event...............i will like
you to get back to me with your availability day in Feb,2015 it a
family reunion party..........i will like you to email back Asap 
.Do you accept credit card payment ?

Thomas T

It's not only distinctly un-American, but the grammar and syntax closely matches the style of emails from Nigerian princes. It's also worth noting that he filled in the "date of event" field on my contact form as "20 02 2015." In fact, I'm betting this is the side job of one such prince on days when he's away from his palace. Anyway, if you couldn't tell, I was getting set up for the classic fake check scam, except this time with a stolen credit card. What's neat in this particular case is that it's not just a generic scam, but rather, locally and specifically targeted against photographers like Annie & myself.

I thought I'd mess around a bit and string him along. Note that these aren't things I would say to a real client... I would never ask a client to reschedule a family reunion party for me, or matter-of-factly add 60% as a travel fee. But "Thomas" didn't mind! Read on...

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for contacting me. I am available for your family reunion 
party on most days this month. What day and time is your party and 
where is it located?

From: Thomas Taylor <>

Yes good to hear this i am looking for Feb,20th but i don't know maybe
the date is open,if the date is open with you that would be okay,also
what is your accurate cost for 4 hours service?,and i can see you can 
handle my family reunion party photography service
Photo size i want,get back to me with the accurate cost.
16x20 and 7 portrait of my family,and here is the address of the venue
470 West 7th Street San Pedro, California 90731.
The event start 12noon.


(The email above actually used four different fonts/sizes/colors. Copy/pasting from different templates?)

Hi Thomas,

The cost for four hours of photography is $1150. How many of each print
did you want? Our prints start at $1.50 for each 4x6". I am actually booked
on Feb 20, though. Any chance you could reschedule for another day?

From: Thomas Taylor <>

Okay can i make it on the 21st? and i want at least two each of them so 
i want you to make it as fast as you can.....
thank you.
Hi Thomas,

Sure, the rate would be $1150 plus the 10 prints would would be a total of 
$125 extra. There is also a travel fee of $660 as your party will be 
approximately 6 hours from our studio. Would this total of $1935 work for you?

From: Thomas Taylor <>

Yes good,
I am okay with the cost of $1935 does that include processing fee + tax 
cause i would need you to do me little favour cause i have a little issue 
with the payment of the venue the management of the venue for the event the 
manager told me he didn't have a credit card machine so i will need you to 
do me the favor to add his fee together with your fee he has to receive 
1900$  thru via western union for the booking of the venue so i will like 
you to get back to me with the total cost so that i can make the payment 
today or tomorrow.
Also , the reason why you are sending money via western union to the manager 
is because they have to receive payment upfront and their credit card machine 
is faulty at the moment.


Ah ha! There it is.

Sure, that's fine. Can you provide me with the name and contact info of the venue?
From: Thomas Taylor <>

Yes sure, i will give you the necessary info once you have run my credit 
card, and what type of credit card do you accept?
We accept all types of credit cards, but I need the contact info of the 
venue. Could you provide that information to me?
From: Thomas Taylor <>

Here is the number of the venue 312 681 0885 ask of Terry Lisa thank you.

312 is a Chicago area code. I guess they can't afford to buy a local VOIP number?

Hi Thomas,

My phone is having issues and I can't dial long distance right now. The 
number you gave me is a 312 number. Does the venue have a local phone number?

From: Thomas Taylor <>

Sorry for that, you can also reach them on there email 
soget back to Asap.
Hi Thomas,

That email didn't work. Why doesn't the venue have a local phone number?

From: Thomas Taylor <>

I don't know, heaven me i normally send them via email but for that phone i don't know....
So i want to know if you are ready for my card or not? because i want to make the 
payment so i will know i have payed 
upfront for the venue thank you david.
Sure, I am ready. I will try emailing again tomorrow. What is the credit card number?
From: Thomas Taylor <>

I will like to know all the neccessary informations needed on my Credit Card...
Hi Thomas,

I just need the credit card number as well as whether it's Amex/Visa/Mastercard/etc.

From: Thomas Taylor <>

CARD NUMBER:[redacted]

NAME ON CARD: Thomas Taylor

C V V CODE: [redacted]



BILLING POST CODE: [redacted, but in California]

 I will like you to charge on my card and get back to me with the approval 


Thanks Thomas. Would you like me to charge the amount in US dollars or Naira?

(Naira is the Nigerian currency.)

From: Thomas Taylor <>

US dollars what do you mean Naira? who is Naira? kindly charge my card in 
US dollars and get back to me with the approval code..

I ran out of things to say at this point. I should note that I immediately contacted both and to report the Citi-issued Mastercard as stolen, but never heard back.

Tags: fraud, photography | Posted at 12:24 | Comments (6)