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Photographers Beware! Donald James
I periodically get leads for photography jobs from places like marketingtool.com. It’s an online service I have a listing with, where people look for photographers. If someone goes there looking for a photographer in my area and makes a request through the website, I along with any other photographers listed in the area, get notification of the customers need via email.
I have received many leads through marketingtool.com but a recent request made me take pause.
On 09-22-11 (5:34 pm) I got a lead in my email for Donald James looking for a wedding photographer in the St. Louis County area.
On 09-23-11 (7:05 pm) I got another lead for the same Donald James but looking for a wedding photographer in the Jefferson County Missouri area this time.
09-24-11 (8:21 am.) I get yet another lead from the same guy but now he’s looking for a photographer in St. Charles County Missouri.
The guy is sending out requests to photographer listed in three very large Missouri Counties, and apparently not get a response.
So I thought, ok, I’ll bite. Lets just see what happens. So I emailed him. This is the contents of our email exchange that began in 09-24-11 and the last email being on 09-29-11
Me: I got your request looking for a wedding photographer. Can you tell me where the wedding will be held?
Donald James replied shortly there after.
At this point I am thinking something is more than just a little off but hey, I could use a long weekend in Denver. It’s a beautiful place and what the heck right?
So I reply:
09-28-11 (6:52 pm) This was Mr. James reply to me:
At this point I know something was really amiss and decide to check out the address he had given me. It is indeed an event center. The Infinitely Event Center to be exact. Looks like a very nice place, and should be for a booking price of almost five grand a night.I wouldn’t mind shooting a wedding in such an elegant place.
So I called Infinity to verify Mr. James’ date. It was after office hours when I called, but I left a message, told them my situation, and asked if they did indeed have a Donald James wedding booked there for the 25th of November.
I did not send any further correspondence to Mr. James pending a verification from Infinity.
09-29-11 I didn’t hear anything from Donald James or Infinity.
09-30-11 This morning at 7:38 am I get this:
Mr. James had again begun his search for a wedding photographer, and again searching in St. Louis County.
I am totally baffled as to why a person would want to fly in a photographer to Denver from Missouri. Then there is the fact that he doesn’t want me to contact him by telephone. And additionally, he wants “his travel agent” to make my travel arrangements.
I got a message from Sara, the event coordinator for Infinity in Denver. She apologized for not calling the day before about my inquiry. I was informed that there was no wedding or reception on November 25th for a Donald James. As a matter of fact there was no Donald James in the schedule for anything at Infinity for the rest of 2011.
It was just a bunch of BS as I had expected so I emailed Mr. James, politely declined his request and wished him well on his search for photographers. I then emailed merchanttool.com and told them what was going on with Donald James.
Shortly after my first message from Infinity, I got yet another message from Sara. Listening to her voice on the other end of the call I could tell she was a little confused and more than a little creeped out. Seems there was another photographer that called there today making the same inquiry as I had and yes, about the same person, Donald James. She stated she felt it was an obvious scam and sounded a little dangerous.
I tried to call her back but she was in a meeting but I was told she would be contacting me first thing Monday morning. The girl taking calls said that a total of 4 photographers had called the center over the past 4 days making the same inquiry as mine.All of them from Missouri, and all of them woman.
I haven’t heard any more from Donald James, nor have I heard anything back from the folks at Marketing Tool.
I hope they can trace Donald James’ IP address and find out who he is and what he’s up to before someone gets seriously scammed or hurt.
I have never heard back from Mr. James since I sent him my email to decline his offer. And he is apparently continuing his search.
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