Wedding planning season is here, and so is wedding scamming season. January is the busiest month for event planning due to December engagements, renewed corporate budgets and family resolutions to make this year better than last.

Traffic is way up on Eventective, and hopefully your phone has been ringing non-stop. But as often happens this time of year, we have heard from a few of our partners that the scammers are busy too.

How They Get You

The most common scam we hear about is when someone offers to pay for your services up front, in full. The scam victim will receive a check (or credit card payment from a stolen card) for an amount greater than the funds required to cover their services. The scammer then asks the victim to wire transfer the excess funds back to them, or sometimes to another event professional.

When the victim wires the funds back, or to a third party, the scammers then have access to the victim’s bank account, immediately transferring all funds out. Ouch!

What to Look For

  • These scammers are usually located overseas and may represent themselves as either visitors or American citizens planning from abroad.
  • A big red flag is consistently poor grammar. Sentence structure that looks off – more than the usual auto-correct flubs– should be your first warning.
  • The scammers are usually in a big hurry to get you their “payment”. Anyone that seems too eager to give you all their money is probably planning to take yours.
  • Scammers are very difficult to contact directly. They will communicate only via email and can never be reached by phone, unless they call you.

Actual scammer communications:

OK , can I have the details which I will be addressing the check to , I will make sure the check get to you by next week , because I want your service and I want it booked down. The Total cost of your service is $700 and $300 , if am really correct.

OK Great. I will provide you with the list of all the services i need. The event date is Feb 24th like i said. So i will make a deposit of $1000 to secure the date. Do you guys accept credit card payments, if yes, what credit card merchant services do you make use of. Also i need a favor, the Limo service company that’s going to pick up my guest hasn’t been paid yet. Will you be able to help me get a cash deposit done to them. I will just let you charge me the extra 3860 and 100 for the favor so maybe a total of 5000 will be charged from my card. Pls get back to me ASAP.

I called yesterday after-work hours and got your voicemail instead. I just got in touch with the bank and they assured me that the check has cleared. I just want to discuss what to do with the overpay ($3000) and some questions we have about the meeting we want to have at your restaurant. Kindly get back to me. I am getting pressure from my boss to sort this out.

What to Do

Accept payment for your services only. Never send money to a third party as part of the transaction.

If you receive payment by check, do some research and work with your bank to verify the authenticity of the issuing institution. If you are the least bit suspicious, contact your local authorities for advice. Don’t let the lure of a payday overcome your doubts.  According to the US Federal Trade Commission, “Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.”

Contact Eventective immediately if you come across someone planning an event that does not seem genuine. Be sure to include the lead ID so we can quickly identify the submitter. We will remove the request and block further requests from that email.

By working together, we can protect each other.

Additional Research

Fake Check Scams
10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud