HAs anyone else received an e-mail like this recently?

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by ellis_vener_photography, Apr 21, 2008.

  1. Hello,
    I am in the process of looking for a photographer for a construction site. The location is in (city and State). The date is flexible. The contract requires the following site photos:
    500 Views (digital images)
    1 CD of all photos taken
    1 color pint of each view [500 prints on 200 X 250 mm (8X10 inch) regular-weight matte archival grade paper and produced by a process with a a minimum of 300 pixels per inch (PPI)]
    A quote is needed by noon M/DD. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

    Well I've got several questions (#1 there is no way you can get anything like 500 8x0@ 300ppi images on a single CD but that is the least of my concerns).
    I guess my real question is: Does this smell of scam or ignorance?
  2. smells like ignorance to me. what would a scammer want with 500! images of a construction
    site? find out what they are paying for this..... that is a lot of images.
  3. The way the scam works is you quote the job, they send a check for a couple of grand over the quote, they say oops, would you mind refunding the overage and keeping the proper amount. You send out the refund, their check never clears....
  4. As 419 scams go, if this is one, it starts out well: decent grammer and spelling, and just vague enough to pique your interest. Ellis, from what I've read from you and of you around here, it wouldn't be difficult for a legitimate, potential, yet uninformed client to find you. I think you'll have send back for further specifics before you can determine for sure what they're after.
  5. Nope, haven't gotten that one. Only 1 obvious misspelling "pint" instead of "print"....

    Until more information is received - I'd go with ignorance. I'd play along and see what happens...but the instant the deposit / check comes for more than the cost of the job, run.

  6. There has been waves of these kinds of things for years now, and there doesn't seem to be anything to them. I get them, too. there was, for a long time, emails that looked like someone was asking for a price quote to shoot a wedding in europe, then another to photograph a vacation in egypt, and so on. these appear to be all great opportunities that come out of the sky, but they never materialize into anything. That, plus the fact, that many people seem to get exactly the same thing all lead to suspicion. On the first two I got, I replied with all sorts of detailed questions, and the person never gave any kind of coherent reply. and yes, there were many obvious misspellings, too. the motivation, I think, is just to watch a bunch of photographers busy themselves about for a while.

    Personally, I'd junk it, but if you like, test (and build) your business skills by probing further and asking key questions that would make it apparent to you that the whole thing is meaningless.
  7. I've followed up and looked up the company and done some research. it seems to be a legit request for a bid so after following up , we'll see.
  8. Keep us informed, that doesn't sound like the usual scam.
  9. Ellis:
    As a physician, an Air Force officer, and artist ( though not as a photographer ), I've received similar solicitations. I've found, and confirmed with the FBI, that open calls for estimates for contratual production of any sort do not ordinarily arrive by e-mail, but are announced in professional periodicals, newspapers, through professional organizations, or, if a specific individual is being solicited, by registered post. That is because a call for estimates is intended to be as broad-based as possible, seeking the proper balance between the individual's ( or corporation's ) reputed skills, efficiency, and charges relative to others in the field; and in the case of public works, is mandatory. Even when a private undertaking, records of the local government must exist as to an open public forum addressing the desirability, safty, environmental impact, etc., of the structure to be built. Although you have confirmed that such an entity ( the soliciting entity ) exists, "shell" corporations may be established through the secretary of state, as an LLC with a single "managing member" - likely someone who has been the victim of identity theft, or a duped "speculator" - providing the entity with seeming legitamacy;after which they engage in RICO-style practices, solicitations for job estimates being the operative element of the crime; then, when the goal is acheived - collecting account numbers of individuals likely to have considerable assets - which are then raided, with transfers to numbered or otherwise covert accounts - the corporation is dissolved by affidavit. It's really easy to seem legitimate, and the scammers identify populations who, as noted, are likely to have reasonable assets, but operate as individually owned or small businesses, which are inclined to offer "estimates" rather than a standard fee schedule. There are, as you know, corporations which specialize in industrial ( including X-ray and aerial ) photographic site or structural analysis, performed by state certified engineers, appraisers, or geologists. If I receive a too-good-to-be true offer by e-mail, I simply forward it to the FBI. Your situation is, when you consider it, quite vague, even if the corporation is listed, even if it has a web site, even if you speak with some "V.P." on the phone. You have to ask yourself, why me? And why are they soliciting through e-mail. One reason is that an e-mail scam, if unsuccessful, does not carry as severe a penalty as attempted mail fraud. Be careful. Personally, I'd want to see their corporate head-quarters, demand a 50% up-front "good - faith" payment based on your ( high-ball ) estimate, airline tickets and helicopter transport to the proposed site for an initial evaluation, and otherwise make demands that a legit corporate structure would find reasonable. But remember - the Big Guys, who operate on the level of building large structures on extensive tracts of land, don't usually solicit estimates for services from non-specialized, individual photographers by e-mail. They often work with a subtracted,established and previously engaged corporation, offering for a standard ( exorbitant) fee ( hell, you're speaking of a multi-million dollar endeavor ) the evaluation , from air and land, of the parameters and feasability of a project based upon radar-altitude established ( in feet ASL ) topography of the site, as well as confirmation, before the fact, that the subcontractor is evaluating land purchased or able to be purchased from someone with petitory rights by virtue of a registered title ( lest they perform services for which the contracting entity will try to avoid paying in the event of a petitory action, or liens encumbering the property ) as well as a meticulous site analysis of soil composition and water run-off, based upon a topographic map including lines of elevation on and adjacent to the property. Ellis, I'd let this one pass, unless you're certain of who you're dealing with, and they just want pretty pictures ( and a hell of a lot of them )of an empty tract of land... because it smells like a dead bass. C. Unger . Add: Dates of production are rarely "flexible" ( time is money in construction; an empty tract is usually encumbered by mortgages or other loans involved in the purchase, whether or not the tract contains structures, and is a money sink until the project is completed ), but are established contractually, with a breach voiding the contract and the party's responsability to render a fee in the case of incomplete prouction within "X (days, months )", the production within that time frame being of suitable quality,extent,depth and completeness so as to serve the necessities of the contracting party . So,as a scam, the entity might contract with you, with a small print provision that you indemnify them against losses incurred as a result of your failure to meet contracted provisions on a timely basis or with a professional product - leaving you with liability for compensatory damages for whatever "losses" they can concoct.
  10. I'll speak to the contrary.
    I got an email asking if I could provide a quote for a construction job. It was a sewer installation for a local town and the state required contractors to provide daily "professional photos" from the same location to document the process of the job. They sent me the bid paperwork and asked what I would charge. I even posted the question here. They ended up not bidding on the job, but I do drive by the site every day. This was a local company, so I know it wasn't a scam. The guy I talked to said he found me on Google because I live in the neighborhood.

    Is the job local or are they asking you to travel some distance? If it's local, look them up and call them. I'm sure it would be easy enough to identify them as a legitimate company if they're local. Do a little invetstigating, it could turn out to be lucrative. For a mult-million dollar project, a few thousand dollars for proof that they are getting the job done is worth it to the company. Just make sure you have the resources for someone to take your place if you can't make it.

    We're getting a little too scam paranoid!

  11. Good answer Craig. Legitimate companies usually allow open biddng by contractors and solicit Requests for Proposals; this one smells like the foundation of scam. I'm not sure what Sam means by "speaking to the contrary" .. sounds exactly like you described above ..

    RFP are much more definitive in nature and won't just say I'll need just "X" numbers of photos on "x" paper and a "CD" (what's that about). The RFP will define specific locations, and working conditions and results desired with your best estimate of what you promise to deliver .. an over-simplification of the process, but you get the jest.
  12. it


    Probably sent to 200 photographers.
  13. The only dodgy one I had was from somebody that wanted me to photograph the funeral of a relative that wasn't yet dead. Then when I pulled them up on that, the story changed and they needed a photo of their dead relative in a casket and simulteneously asked me about wedding photography. Aside from they never answered questions regarding their name, location and whether they'd like to see my portfolio, all they seemed to be interested in was me sending them photos of pretty girls and corpses (which I declined to do). That started out like a 419 and I truly believed that I was going to be sent a fee far in advance of my charges. I figure it was some guy getting his jollies from being bizarre.
  14. Michael,
    I was giving the side that I don't believe it to be a scam, I had a legitimate business ask me how much I would charge for a similar service. They were bidding on a state job and simply quoted me what their RFP had as a line item for photography. The state RFP required the contractor to have professional photos taken every day to document the progress of the job. There were specs in the state RFP and they just wanted to know how much I would charge so they could include it in their bid. They didn't write a seperate RFP for me, just faxed over the state paperwork.


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