In addition to brides and grooms, I know a lot of wedding planners and vendors tune in to the Perfect Memories Blog. Today, I'd like to take a moment to warn them to be alert for email scams targeting wedding planners.
Similar to schemes targeting photographers and other consumers, this current scheme has been going on for at least the past few months and basically involves sending in a cashiers check for an amount greater than what you've billed them--and then asking you transfer the extra money elsewhere. The cashiers check clears into your account quickly, you transfer them the money, and weeks later your bank realizes the check was a fraud and deducts the amount from your account.
I received this scam just last week, and it immediately raised suspicions though I couldn't prove it was indeed a scam right away. A bride-to-be contacts you from somewhere in Europe (in this case Germany) saying that she and her fiance are moving to the U.S. and need help planning a wedding. See more details of the scam and a copy of the initial email wedding planners receive here. The minor details (name/date/location) change, but otherwise, everyone is receiving the exact same email.
Now, I occasionally receive legitimate inquiries from couples living abroad, who are usually in the military but returning home for a wedding. But in this case, something seemed off. I looked online for information about it after the first email, but at that point wasn't sure what exactly the spam was. Finally, the "bride" says that a cashiers check is on it's way--for over $3,000 more than the deposit. The extra money I'm to transfer with Western Union to their band, which will be flying in to perform from France.
What concerns me most about this is that they are basically asking wedding planners to do something we do on a regular basis: make a payment to a wedding vendor. With similar scams like the Nigerian Money Scam, the scammer is making a request that is so out of the blue, so odd or so "too good to be true" that it is obviously spam. But this isn't. And with so many young, new planners in the industry right now, I'm sure many people may be eager to secure a client and could easily overlook the warning signs.
And so my tips to planners to protect yourself from this and other scams:
- Do not accept cashiers checks. If you do, allow extra time after the money is cleared in your account for the check to be verified before touching the money (I've seen reports this may take two or three weeks or up to three months. . .that's enough for me to never accept one from anyone).
- Do not send money to a vendor you've never seen or heard from directly. And of course, do not pay any vendor you do not have a contract with.
- Protect your privacy. Be as smart a business person as you are a consumer, and do not provide passwords, bank accounts numbers, etc., to anyone.
- If it sounds suspicious, proceed with caution. Do online research to see if anyone else has received a similar scam. Insist on secure payments and if they balk, turn them away.
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