One of my absolute favorite pastimes is trolling photography credit card scammers. For those of you who don’t know, photographers and other small business owners/vendors get approached by scammers who request an event be photographed. Seems legit until they insist on paying with a credit card AND let you know that you can “do them a favor” by paying the event planner – who for whatever reason cannot accept credit card payments – on their behalf. This would mean charging a large amount and forwarding via check/cash the planner’s fee. You can read more about this type of scam on The LawTog’s site.
I get these sort of scam messages frequently. I don’t always reply; sometimes, I just block and delete. On occasion, though, when work is slower or I’m feeling particularly salty, I play. I wish I had screen shots of every exchange I’ve had like these, but I don’t always think to save them.
- Scammers will use the excuse that they are “hard of hearing” to avoid phone call requests. This grinds my gears because I know people who actually ARE deaf, and this is insulting to them.
- Often, the scammer themselves or a “relative” will be in the hospital with cancer. Again, uncool.
- My alter ego’s name is Genevieve Von Trapp. I have even called back the IRS scam numbers with this name and played for a while. I may have a recording of one of these calls somewhere… I need to search. Genevieve has a strange European accent. Not completely British, Welsh, German, or French. An amalgam of those accents.
- References to taxidermy pop up in my responses more than I’d like to admit.
- Scammers do not like to be called scammers.
- I hide the phone numbers because I don’t know if these numbers are being spoofed, and I wouldn’t want to put an unwitting number owner on blast.
November 20, 2015 – “FU Guy”
This “gentleman” contacted me for a family reunion. As I am wont to do, I peppered ridiculous references throughout my responses.
Am I proud of how I wrapped this one up? No. But I took some comfort in the idea that I’d wasted some of his time.
December 1, 2015 – Scaredy Scammer
I think I scared this guy with my extremely high quote and cash-only request. He did not reply to me.
December 7, 2015 – Who Will Save Your Soul?
For this guy, I tried a different approach. It was Advent after all, and I had my mind on things that are good about the world. I don’t think he appreciated it. He didn’t reply.
June 6, 2016 – I didn’t even try
Here’s an example of one of the many, many times I just didn’t try. I was busy doing other things, and this scammer didn’t deserve my time.
June 24, 2016 – Frank-speak
One observation I’ve made through these exchanges is that while the scammer speaks English, it is definitely not their first language. The syntax and structure is all wrong. When “Frank” contacted me, I tried to “speak” his language.
I hope I gave Frank a reason to reflect. Somehow, I doubt it.
July 14, 2016 – Holy Man
Now this one kinda ticked me off. I didn’t appreciate him referring to himself as a pastor, playing to the hope that I was a religion-practicing Christian and would be blinded to his scam by my love of Jesus and helping my fellow man.
August 8, 2017 – Huh?
Honestly, I’m not sure this was even a scam. But it was weird. So so weird. Notice the time they first texted me. Also, I don’t publish my business phone number anywhere except Google, so to have my number, you would already have my name. Bye.
August 15, 2019 – Avant Garde
Again, ridiculousness is the game of the day here. I love how they get so angry when I call them out on their scams. They curse me out. *Language warning at the end.*
September 26, 2019 – Jodi Vicknair
When I saw the chosen name of the scammer for this attempt, I laughed out loud in my house and the dog jumped up from a nap and shook. “Vicknair” is a very Louisiana name, so I knew this guy had done his research. Well, to a point. “Jodi” sent me texts from two different phone numbers, so the gallery is presented in two parts.
I thought that Jodi would read the email address and know that I was playing with them. But then…
January 30, 2020 – Oh, language
When “Thomas” messaged me, I was in a perfectly salty mood and ready to attack the next person who crossed my path. And the universe delivered Thomas to my inbox. Again, scammers don’t like being called scammers. When I dropped the S word on Thomas, he flipped, as I had hoped.
December 6, 2020 – Fake Gene, Part 1
This was the first scam email I have received, so I was thrown for a loop for a minute. There is a real Gene. I blacked out the last name because the real Gene is a nice guy, and I won’t drag his family name. Fake Gene refers to me as “Renee” because the email address he messaged was formerly the email address of a real person I know named Renee. The real Renee obviously was not expecting a weird scam email like this, so I launched my counterattack on Fake Gene.
December 16, 2020 – Fake Gene, Part 2: The Rick Roll
Apparently, both Gene’s and Renee’s names are floating around the dark web on a list linked to the webmaster email address that I have inherited as the new webmaster for our photography club. A mere 10 days after the Fake Gene I played his game, Fake Gene II hit my inbox.
I really let the creative writing juices flow this time. I look at it as improv… always say “yes.”
Well, I know one thing for sure: that won’t be the last time that Genevieve Von Trapp delivers some digital justice and frustration to scammers.
If you ever get a scam email or text, don’t be afraid to fight back. Your friends Genevieve and Rick Astley are on your side. 😉