Just when you think you have heard of everything something new lands in front of you. You make that weird face and you find yourself saying…what?!*
I recently had a week full of these moments. All of my moments of amazement revolved around a person who calls herself, “Miss Veronica”. If I told you the whole story before giving you the punch line you probably would not finish reading this post. So I’m going to spill the beans up front & if you are intrigued you can continue to read on.
“Miss Veronica” tried to scam me for wedding photography services. She mailed me a fraudulent check for thousands of dollars over my highest priced wedding package. She then had the nerve to ask me to cash the check and wire the remaining balance to colleagues of hers. Yeah right!
OK … so that was the extremely condensed version. The story begins in mid June 2008. I received an email, very formal in speech and grammar, from a person referring to herself as “Miss Veronica”. She was inquiring about wedding day services. Although I thought it was strange to receive such a formal email and to have someone refer to them-self as “Miss”, I replied to the email anyway.
Emails went back and forth. Within the emails, she mentioned she and her fiance, “Mr. Johnson Henry” frequently traveled internationally for business. It would therefore be difficult to speek on the phone. She wanted to book a date in August for her wedding and she would be forwarding a deposit for my highest priced wedding package. I found it odd that she asked no questions about the contents of my packages and just wanted to book me by only viewing images on my website. By now, her English and grammar within each email got progressively worse. I told myself to not be overly concerned because she probably had someone help her write the first email
Weeks passed and I had not seen anything come through the mail from “Miss Veronica”. I sent her an email reminding her that I only reserve dates for those customers who have reserved the date by paying a deposit. She was not officially in my books. She replied back saying her father had passed away and the ceremony was postponed by one month. I expressed my feelings of sympathy for her situation but again reminded her I needed a deposit to reserve any date. I also asked her to forward her wedding planners name here in Idaho so I could have a local contact. Her response was that a business associate owed her money and she was waiting for payment. The funeral had put her in a financial bind. She did not forward a wedding planners name or contact info.
A few weeks pass and I still have not heard from “Miss Veronica” nor received a deposit. At this point, I was not counting on actually shooting the wedding. Then one day I received an email stating her business associate had forwarded the money he owed her to me because the wedding date was getting closer. I became very suspicious. Why would he send it to me and not her? Had he never heard of Fed-EX & UPS?
On a Monday I received a envelope with no return address and it was mailed from London. I opened the envelope and found a cashiers check that was written for thousands of dollars over my package pricing. As I looked at the check I found all kinds of red flags.
1) It was a cashiers check from an American bank …. but the check was mailed from London
2) The dollar amount was excessively over my highest priced wedding package.
3) The paper felt cheap and I could not see the watermark that you should be able to see on a bank’s check.
4) There was a semicolon between the dollars and the cents, not a period.
5) The date of the cashiers check was from a month earlier.
So I drove down to my local bank branch and asked them to help me figure out if this check was the real deal. After a little looking and a few phone calls the answer was “This is fraudulent”. So now what do I do….Do I turn this person in or do I play along and try to get more info out of her. The bank recommended both.
I did nothing for a few days and figured I would receive an email asking if I had received payment. The email came on Wednesday asking if the check had arrived and I waited until very late Thursday evening to respond. My excuse was that I had been out of town and I was just now getting to my mail……. “Thank you for the payment and would you please forward the wedding contract to me also”. (My wedding contract contains the bride and grooms mailing address and contact information).
An email came through at 3 a.m. asking me to deposit the check and get cash to wire money, she would be forwarding the contact information as well as the wedding contract. I didn’t respond and suddenly I have an email with two names and locations of who I need to wire money to.
I immediately notice one of the names has a local address and I get on “Google” to start investigating. (Honestly, what did we do before the internet?) Within 2 minutes I’ve found the person and her contact info. I notice that this person is in charge of renting out the CW Moore Plaza penthouse. I decide I’m going to call her and ask if she knows anything about “Miss Veroncia”. She says yes…Veronica is trying to book the penthouse for an October wedding. I say “REALLY…October She told me September. Are you expecting a money gram from me for a wedding deposits?” The answer was no.
Later in the afternoon I filed a report with the police and decided not to respond to “Miss Veronica” at all. She would figure out I knew she was a fraud.
DON’T GIVE UP READING YET…..I KNOW THE STORY IS LONG BUT I PROMISE IT GETS BETTER,
Saturday morning I get a phone call from a local D.J. asking me what I know about Miss Veronica. I was apprehensive at first but then spilled the beans. The D.J. had also just received a fraudulent cashiers check. “Miss Veronica” had told us both the same wedding date but had given each of us different venues/locations.
We both got a chuckle out of the situation and decided to keep in contact if any new “Miss Veronica” emails came through.
On Tuesday morning (around 10 a.m.) I received an email from “Miss Veronica” She was quite upset and accusing me of ruining her wedding. With the power of my 2 day old IPHONE (The coolest phone ever!!!!) I immediately emailed the D.J. letting her now Veronica had contacted me. The D.J. had also received a rude email and we both had decided not to respond.
At 1:30 p.m. the same day I receive a phone call…..a blocked number. I answer it and can’t hear anything on the other end. Everything seems to be echoing back and I was getting ready to say please call back and I then catch “This is Miss Veronica”. My adrenaline rose and I immediately say “Veronica…You sent me a fraudulent check , I know it and you know it. I’ve reported you to the authorities. Don’t contact me again.” I then hung up. I was so amazed and worked up I didn’t even think to give her a chance to respond.
So that is the end of my “Miss Veroncia” story I know it was long and not at all related to photography but I had to get it off my chest. So for all of you who actually read the whole post forward the story on to any of your friends who own a business. This just goes to prove that these type of people will come up with any scenario they can to make an easy buck.