I recently got referred for a gig by a friend of mine. It was a wedding/anniversary celebration in Jackson Tennessee. I actually thought it was a legit gig until we started to talk about money. The guy said that he wanted to get my address right away so that he could have his accountant send me a certified check. That was a big red flag for me. A while back I tried to sell some stuff on craigslist, and they have a great security notice about fake cashier’s checks. You should read it right now if you haven’t already.

Once I was suspicious, I started looking more closely at the whole situation, and there were a bunch of things that didn’t make sense:

  • The guy seemed too willing to spend a bunch of money. We all know that people spend ridiculous amounts of money on weddings these days, but he seemed to be offering a blank check to bring out yo-yo performers who he knew nothing about. It would be different if he was working through a trusted agent, or if he had heard of me or my friend who referred me, but he knew nothing about either of us. That’s just weird. People don’t usually throw money at unfamiliar things. He was even willing to fly my friend out from Texas sight-unseen.
  • His email domain was mixmail.com which is a Spanish language site. By itself, this was no big deal, lots of people speak Spanish, and I’m perfectly happy to work for them, but the majority of scams seem to come from out of the country from free email addresses. This detail was just one more straw on the camel’s back.
  • He didn’t ask me any of the normal questions like, “How long is your show?” or “Will your show be a good thing for my event?” It’s not unusual to get right down to business if someone is already a fan of mine, but this guy knew nothing about me. I had to ask him what he wanted from me. He just didn’t seem terribly interested in the details that most planners are obsessive about.
  • He was in a big hurry. MAJOR red flag. Again, I deal with people who are in a hurry all the time, but this was another suspicion added to the pile.
  • He gave me a location for the event, which put me at ease until I called the site to confirm. There is a wedding that day, but it’s under another name. It could be that the daughter has a different name, or that it’s booked under the groom’s name, but that’s another red flag.
  • He gave me a bad phone number. Email is often a very difficult way to communicate, so I always try to talk to my clients on the phone. I thought I was being paranoid, and I figured that if I could talk to this guy on the phone I would be able to determine if he was legit. When the number he gave was no good, I was pretty sure he was a scammer. I emailed him two more times asking for him to send the correct phone number, but I have not heard back. If he really did want me at the party that badly, he could have at least emailed me back even if he didn’t want to talk on the phone. But he didn’t.

I have nothing that absolutely proves that this was a scam attempt, but there sure are a lot of red flags.

So beware. I feel like I dodged a bullet thanks to having some knowledge in advance, and I hope I can save some other people from getting ripped off.