So, back in December, I received an inquiry. The formatting was kind of odd, but I assumed it was from a business address or something. I responded and never heard back.
Then, over a month later, I received a different email, but gmail had nested it with the one from December. Different email address, same type of inquiry. I responded again.
After a couple of weeks, I received a response. I thought it was really strange and even showed my husband when we were laying in bed. We just shrugged it off and didn't think of it again.
Well, just a few days ago, I learned that these emails are part of a huge scam targeting photographers. Once they've set it up with these first few emails, they then send another email from another address threatening to leave horrible reviews for your business. I imagine they're expecting you to then reach out to "Jennifer" for her amazing skills at removing bad reviews.
I have yet to receive one of the threatening emails, but I imagine it's on it's way.
Photographers work so hard to create beautiful memories for people and our reviews are what fuels our business. The thought of someone trying to destroy what we work so hard for is awful. Luckily, I've kept track of these emails and am writing this now, before I've received these threats, so that I can direct my clients to the truth about this horrible scam.
If you are a photographer and have been targeted, here's what you can do (borrowed from THIS blogpost at PetaPixel.com):
- Don’t respond to the emails!
- Set up a Google Alert for your business name
- Watch your business on a few different review sites and attempt to respond to the false reviews with a link to this post to educate potential readers, or by submitting “proof” to the review website.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission via its toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357) or the FTC online complaint form.
- Contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center
- Non-emergency number for your local police department to make them aware of the fraud (larger cities will have a cyber crimes task force or department)