So as I grow and hit my stride as an aspiring IG model (ha!), I do get requests occasionally to partner with brands for shoots. So I was excited to receive an email from a ‘Director Scott,’ claiming to be a representative for celebrated photographer David LaChapelle, who wanted me to model in an upcoming Puma campaign in New York City.
The pay was pretty good ($5,000) and the terms seemed great: a deposit sent to your doorstep, no agreement, invoice, or W-9 required, which should have been my first red flag. Another red flag: the email came from a Gmail account and not an official company email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
These details evaded my manager and I…temporarily. When they asked for my info, I gave it to them, and within a few days, a number with a 405 area code began texting me, telling me money was on the way and that I should be on the lookout for it. Who wouldn’t get excited that money was on the way? In my mind, I already started shopping. But once the check hit my mailbox, things got weird.
First, the check that was sent was for substantially more than the deposit promised–which would be great, right? The 405 number urged me to deposit the check immediately, and asked for minute-to-minute updates on when it would be in the bank. This is not normal behavior. Anyone who works with brands knows that sometimes reaching agreements can take WEEKS, and getting paid can take months. It’s not unusual to be chasing checks for work you’ve completed vs. the other way around. Another red flag.
The nail in the coffin for me was when this ‘405’ number contacted me at 8am the morning after the check was deposited to see if it posted. We all know that checks can sometimes take days to clear and the start of a normal banking day is 9am. But no, this man was committed!
When he asked me to cash app some random person $1,000, my spidey senses started tingling. But can you believe I actually attempted to Cashapp this person? It’s only when the Cashapp declined the transaction (not sure why–maybe it was GOD), that I realized that something was definitely fishy.
I quickly went online to find any instances of this happening. And while the “David LaChappelle x Puma’ scam didn’t turn up any results, I did find an article about an email scammer using Jill Greenburg’s name, with almost the same email–verbatim.
Basically the scammer offers you a fake opportunity and sends you a fake check for more than the agreed upon amount. They then ask for you to send them some of the money back (which is ludicrous), and you end up giving some random stranger you don’t know from a can of paint your money. This “Director Scott” would have made off with $1,000 just by sending an email, a fake check, and a few text messages!
(Director Scott only stopped sending me texts when I threatened to call the police (he didn’t care when I told him I would alert my bank and my lawyer–but the mention of the popo shut him up real quick!)).
I consider myself an intelligent person, though I am a bit naive (I guess) to the influencer world in some respects. But even while I have partnered with many brands, and witnessed the long contract negotiations, sent invoices, w-9’s, etc. this one was new to me. Perhaps the prospect of being paid well–in advance–was too tempting to pass up!
At any rate, I hesitated to even write this because I felt like a dum dum. How could I fall for this? Director Scott 41 at gmail? And you should see the picture that goes along with that Cashapp tag. Comedy.
When I googled this situation, nothing came up, so hopefully, my testimony will prevent someone out there from making the same mistake.
When you are booked with a serious agency, no-one will just give you money without a written contract. Legitimate professionals have a company email, not a random Gmail account (generally). Nothing’s free, children. And anything that is, comes with a price you probably don’t want to pay…
Love & Light,
Find the text of the email below:
Thanks for reaching out in regards to the upcoming shoot notice, it would be an honor to work with you. About David LaChapelle Photography®,We are one of the leaders in professional photography, specializing in portraiture and commercial Photography®. We have both the knowledge and expertise to create and capture the perfect image of you. And here we are again, calling for an upcoming commercial to market collective sales catalog for the year for Bags, Shoes and Purses for our reputable Russian based client ( PUMA ) who believes in fashionable life style.
A Multi brand company, PUMA, and the PUMA Group embodies the concept of modern, upmarket shopping. A sports brands, designing, developing, selling and marketing footwear for over 65 years, Puma is one of the most well-known for sporting apparel brands in the global world. PUMA is the third largest sportswear manufacturer in the world. PUMA stores stock the aforementioned brands and offer an enviable selection of such renowned designer sport wear and other apparels. PUMA has also collaborated with established NYC’s Soho neighborhood with Puma’s Global Senior Head of Lifestyle, Yassine Saidi, and Founder of the Filling Pieces shoe brand, Guillaume Philibert, amongst others. and have decided to collaborate with David Lachapelle Photography®, for their Commercial advert work nationwide. For more information, please visithttp://www.puma.com
The events date are:
Event Date 1: June 28th – (3 Models) June 29th 2019 (3 Models) ,
Event Date 2: July 5th – (3 Models) July 6th 2019 (3 Models) ,
Time: 11A.M -3P.M.
The Total money pay for the job is USD $5000 (Tax deductable) and you will get $500 as your advance/upfront booking fee and balance of USD 4,500 will be paid immediately after the completion of the commercial shoot (Advance/Booking ($500) + Usage rights and Services ($4,500) = $5000. There is a room for negotiation.
You will NOT only receive a paycheck of $500 but also an EXTRA amount that you will use to pay for your wardrobe/costume that will be used for the shoot, which you will be forwarding to the contracted fashion stylist so he can ship out the wardrobe/costume to you before the date of the shoot. REASON being that, the payment for the wardrobe has to be made or billed to your Name/info as requested and acceptable business terms by the representative sponsorship to the fashion stylist, to ENSURE a tallied customization and label to be printed on your wardrobe.(Read this Paragraph again)
The shooting will hold at a rented studio in your location – (we shall arrange a suitable Studio and convey its detail to you unanimously). Below are the required Payment and Sign-up details you are to forward to us for filling and to mail you the aforementioned Paycheck for the Wardrobe.
Your full name
Physical address (No P.O.box)
State & City, Zip code
We look forward to work with you on this project. Have a wonderful day!
David LaChapelle (C.E.O)