Trying to Scam A DC Event Planner
Have you ever been scammed? I remember that one time I almost got scammed as an Event Planner. Yes it almost happened to me, but through street smarts, I dodged that bullet.
Let me explain what happened to me in hopes of saving you from dealing with the results of a scam.
A "groom" by the name of Daniel Matt contacted me for wedding planning services in the Washington, DC area. Here's what he told me, yes straight from the liar's mouth.
"Due to my busy schedule I want a Washington, DC Event Planner in regards of my upcoming 10th wedlock anniversary. It's coming up in December 10th and I don’t want the party to be at my house. I am having a lot of stress about this event and I want you to please cater for this event for me. I also do believe that you will do me a lovely party and thrill my guest to the best of your ability.
Getting us a venue
Make proper arrangement for flowers and decor
Food and drinks for the guest as I do not know what the guests might choose for their meals and drinks. I will have to leave that for you, but it shouldn't be more than my budget.
I'd prefer a DJ and would like R&B and Jazz music.
Event color : white and purple *Budget : 14k
I want you to be rest assured that all the payments will go through you as my party coordinator/event planner to all vendors. You can get all the necessary arrangement done for my event as I am out of town and I work 24/7 on a ship. I will be in town 5 days prior to my wedding anniversary. My party time 3pm to 7pm, Expected guest is about 40 to 50. Also how much do you charge for this type of event? Deposit or full payment will can made asap with my credit card once availability of venue is confirmed by you. I believe you can bring a level of service that surpasses anything we’ve seen before."
Well now doesn't that sound like the PERFECT client?
So I played along with "Daniel" because I have learned to have positive intent no matter how strange this is. You may ask what is so strange about this? Keep reading and I'll explain later. Since Daniel had all the details I needed outside of decor, I was ready to draft up a contract. He was ready to book ASAP.
I followed up with Daniel asking him for his spouses information. I tend to like to include both of them on my contracts. I also needed a mailing address and telephone number. Once he sent me the info I needed, I drafted the contract and our invoice and sent it over to him. Here's where it gets good.
He refused to accept our invoicing method which at the time was QuickBooks. He gave this long story about how he doesn't trust them and blah blah.
I said OK no problem how about PayPal. Another story came about on why PayPal was not good for him. I said the only other method I accept is a certified check. Nothing could be produced. He then states that I use SquareUp for payment. Now for us, we don't have an account with them and was not going to go out of our standard practice for this account. It simply makes accounting difficult trying to keep up with all these methods.
He then states, before he can pay the deposit, he needs us to adjust the invoice price to include the limo driver. He also wanted to give us extra money for helping to pay the driver. He would not agree to paying the driver directly nor paying the deposit separately.
At that point I knew he was trying to scam me.
How did I know this was a scam?
1 - He told me he could not talk because he was on a ship and working 24/7. I'm a Army Vet and understand deployments. You can find time to talk. I also understand that no Sailor would plan their anniversary party from a deployment. If you have that much time, you are failing your mission. More than likely Daniel's wife would do this.
2 - He gave me a fake address. Yes I Googled the address because it didn't sit well with me.
3 - He gave a me a hard time with payment methods which was weird and not normal.
4 - I have never had a client pay me extra money for paying a vendor on their behalf. I wish, but never. The limo company information he gave me was no where on the internet. I tried calling them and got nothing.
How does this scam work for Event & Wedding Professionals and Clients?
You will have a sounds good to be true person contact you with very detailed info like above. It all sounds great until they ask you to pay for a vendor/partner that they must have at their event.
What happens is they pay your invoice via a stolen credit card. Once they money is in your account, you would then pay this "vendor". The problem is the vendor is fake. Once you release money from your account and it goes to whomever, you cannot get it back.
When a person who's card was stolen files a claim, they cannot track down Daniel. Daniel didn't use the card, you did. So now the bank is after you to refund the person who's card you used. But you no longer have all the money because you gave it to this fake business.
Both clients and pros can fall victim to this scam. If you are a couple getting married a fake vendor can take your money and be gone. You have no real way of tracking them without a legit address, phone number, or business.
How to Fight Back?
1 - Verify the people you are hiring and those who want to be your client. It's my opinion that texting clients about legal matters like contracts is never good. Emails are ok, but you need to meet clients and talk over the phone. You should also be able to do a Google search to verify identity.
2 - If you don't have a contract or are not able to confirm a vendor, do not pay them. How can you pay someone you don't know? If you have that much money, send it to me.
3 - Only accept certain methods of payment and only use credit cards to make payments. With a credit card you have some level of protection. If you are paying someone who turns out to be fake, call your credit card company immediately.
Have you ever been scammed or been through a similar case? What tips do you have to offer?