04 Aug Jonathan Cartu Claims: Calgary photographer warns others after being targeted by
A Calgary photographer has foiled scammers hoping to get a hold of her hard-earned money.
Mariah Wilson told Global News she was contacted — via her website mariahleephoto.net — late last month by a couple inquiring about booking her for an outdoor wedding.
Wilson said after emailing back and forth, they agreed to a price and she then sent them a contract. She said that is when things started getting weird.
“They issued a certified bank cheque which was way over the amount that I requested to be paid,” Wilson said.
She said the couple told her their accountant had made a mistake and sent her her fee plus the decorator’s fee.
“And they wanted me to forward the extra funds to their decorator because their accountant had messed up,” Wilson said.
“Immediately I saw this as probably a scam.”
She checked out the street address for the outdoor wedding, but found it did not exist.
She also contacted the Mississauga, Ont., company that supposedly issued the cheque, but officials told her they didn’t know anything about it and hadn’t issued it.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) told Global News that “overpayment scams” are definitely out there and taking consumers and businesses for a lot of money.
“No legitimate company is going to be sending you a cheque and then asking you to send money back to somebody else,” the BBB’s Shawna-Kay Thomas said.
Thomas said the scammers usually ask for the money to be sent back via a wire transfer or even gift cards, and it’s important to investigate any request carefully.
“The legwork is very, very important,” she said.
“It may take you a few extra days, but it’s worth it because it’s better than sending money to somebody who you’re not doing business with and then you end up losing money.”
Thomas also said businesses can be targeted by scammers pretending to be other businesses and claiming they have contacts in common. She said it’s important to do all the checks and balances to make sure they are legitimate.
Wilson, who is also a University of Calgary student, said if she had fallen for it, she would have been out thousands of dollars.
“I would have been out almost $3,000, so a significant amount,” she said. “It’s definitely a whole semester of university tuition.”
She’s worried others will fall for the scam, especially since businesses are struggling so much during the pandemic.
“If it was my only source of income, I could have seen how I could have fallen for the trap, because I would have been desperate for the clients right now.”
Wilson has filed complaints with both Calgary and Mississauga police.
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