I am writing this post so that my clients are aware this is happening but also to bring awareness to the photographers that follow my blog and my work. There is a very detailed and thought out scam going around right now that is targeting newborn photographers including me. The scammers/blackmailers are threatening bad reviews of the photographer's business if the photographer doesn't pay them money to stop it. This is extortion. This is wrong. But it is still happening. I will go into some detail below of the series of events. The scammers have followed through and posted bad reviews of some of the targeted photographers already. Due to this I am publicly exposing the threats against me and "warning" my clients and followers that if you suddenly see a bunch of "bad reviews" about me this is why.
PHOTOGRAPHERS- Read all the details of this scam HERE
What do they get out of this?...
The scammers are doing this not only to be mean and nasty and just horrible, but also to try to get us photographers to pay them money to stop them. They think this will scare us into paying. Legitimate bad reviews can greatly affect a business. It will seriously affect a businesses search engine ranking. A majority of a photographer's clients usually find them from either word of mouth or an internet search. Bad reviews will also keep people from wanting to use you also. The scammers are using sites such as Yelp, iformative, ripoff report and other review sites as they know that these reviews can not be removed. The review sites themselves want you to pay them a ridiculous amount of money also to have a review removed, even if it is fake.
What can be done?...
As my client you may be wanting to help out and post some good reviews for me. I appreciate all the reviews I have already and love them. I will ask however that you wait to post any reviews until this thing is over with so they don;t get lost in the mess(that is if the bad reviews really end up coming). Once this is all over I will put out a call for reviews to my clients and you may then leave on if you wish.
Photographers: There are several things we can do to combat these threats. There are several blog posts about this from many sources with great links to places we ened to report any bad reviews:
Real Business for Photographers - “Bad Reviews” Extortion, threats, etc.
Eden Bao Photography - “Bad Reviews” Blackmail Extortion Scam Targeting Newborn Photographers
SLR Lounge - Beware of New ‘Bad Reviews’ Email Scam Targeting Photographers
Kat Forder, colleague from Baltimore, Maryland: http://www.katforder.com/2015/02/16/bad-review-scam-targeting-photographers/
Like the others, This all started with an email In December 2014 from a Mark Schwartz inquiring about newborn photography. It had subtle clues that it may be spam. My auto responder of course sent my auto response message. A few weeks ago I received an email (which had replied to my auto response to "Mark") from a Jennifer McMahon. She stated she was a PI and that she could help if I got any threats of bad reviews in the future. She also stated to keep her info in case I needed her services in the future. This was the set up. They were setting the stage for the next phase: the Bad review threat. This morning I woke up to the threatening email from "Mohammed". Threatening to leave "scathing" reviews and put me out of business. I have included screenshots of the emails below for reference.
In the mean time I will be preparing just in case. I will not be giving into their terrorist threats. I will never pay them any money and my work and clients will speak for my work and my quality.
Kansas Pitts Photogrpahy has put out a call to all photographers affected by this to report to the FBI. Use the link I gave above. If we can all come together and report this we can hopefully bring this to an end. When you report you can give names of others affected by this. Please give my name and any others you can think of that have been affected.
Here is the series of emails I have received, the most recent being very threatening.
The first received email (March Schwartz)