Extortion is the New Thing

Social Media can be a blessing and a curse.  It can be a blessing because it allows a good reputation of your business spread.  It can be a horrible curse as well – especially when someone abuses the power of social media to destroy a business.

Case in point – Look what happened to Andrea Polito.   I do not know Andrea personally but her story is the perfect illustration as to what has similarly happened to quite a few photographers of recent.  Unfortunately, the internet brings out the crazies, and when someone gets angry (even if unwarranted), they can do a lot of damage to a small business.  Photographers came together and dug up some dirt on this previous customer of Andrea’s, and she has an internet “paper trail” – a history of being pretty wretched online – long before she even met Andrea.

Then there is the $300,000 lawsuit on a photographer – Gary Fong recounts his defense of the photographer, Nelson Tang, here.
scamThis creates the perfect set up for yet another SCAM.  But how?

I’m a bit uneasy myself right now…. A few weeks ago, I received a strange email.  It was worded strangely – you know the type….the type that makes you feel someone is not really who they say they are.  My gut instinct told me that this was not a client trying to inquire about a newborn session but something else.  This “client” asked for my name and studio address (which is clear on my website, which is how they contacted me).

I’m not the only one that received this message.  Someone else who received this message also received another email.  I would call the email EXTORTION.

Woman of God Credentials…………It begins by stating the background of the person writing the email – she professes to be religious and in a care-giving/service industry.  Personally, I am tired of seeing people using God and martyrdom in order to convince other people that they are legitimate.  I mean, who would want to think bad of a Man or Woman of God?  On a side note, aren’t we done as photographers, seeing people use God to sell photography workshops and other products to photographers?  I grew up surrounded by religion, and from what I have studied in the Bible in 13 years of religious schooling, I know that if Jesus walked this earth and saw all these people pimping Him to sell their products, He would flip over the tables of all these church “moneychangers”.  Please, people STOP MARKETING YOUR PRODUCTS BY USING GOD.

Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on a tangent, but I just had to, this really sets me off first and foremost.

Scare Tactics……………Next, the email message gets the photographer worked up as she states that she knows someone who is threatening to post bad reviews about this photographer, and felt that the photographer should know about this very serious situation.  This is a scare tactic.  All photographers are feeling nervous especially after what happened with Andrea Polito – these things happen all the time.

Photographer responds to this email and states that she knows of no one who is displeased, but is definitely concerned about this.

The Bribe………………This Woman-of-God writes back that the photographer now has three choices 1) Ignore the bad reviews.  2) Hire a company for thousands of dollars that will take care of this.  3) Pay HER a couple hundred dollars and she will convince the person not to write the bad reviews.

Whoah.  There.  That’s it.  Did you just get that sick feeling in your gut?   That’s the scam, right there.  So this person has just threatened the photographer that a bad review is getting ready to be placed and even states that this type of review can ruin a business (in so many words) and now tries to extort money out of photographer to keep this mysterious bad review from happening.

Another attack on photographers, the small businesses who are just trying to survive in this oversaturated and messed up industry.

And to be completely honest with you, it wouldn’t surprise me if previous or current photographers who aren’t bringing in enough money, are actually behind this scam….. but there’s my gut instinct again, telling me something that I shouldn’t think of people, right?


Edited:  Check this out.  One person, going by the name “Amber Rome” (aka iamsillybilly, aka RATREE) really went to all these photographers?  One of them on this list, I know was contacted and was told to pay her money to get the review down…. Extortion.  Nice. See the reviews here….  This person spent 9 hours writing bad reviews for photographers.