Important Notice for Wedding/Event Service Professionals

We’ve recently been alerted to a credit card scam that has been going around the web and wanted to let you know about. It involves prospective customers using stolen credit card information and can leave unsuspecting professionals out a considerable amount of money.

Wedding and event professionals are being targeted everywhere they connect with prospective customers (i.e. websites, email, whats app, phone, etc.)

In this article we explain how the scam works, what warning signs to look out for, and what you can do to protect yourself from this scam.

How it works

There are three scenarios that we have been made aware of, all make use of a stolen credit card:

(1) Payment of a third party supplier
    • A customer contacts you, saying they are happy to proceed provided you accept credit card payments;
    • The customer expresses concern that one of their other suppliers cannot accommodate credit card transactions;
  • The customer asks if they can overpay you and requests that you pay a third party supplier the difference.

In this scenario, the payment is made to you. You would pay the scammer (i.e. third party supplier) the agreed amount. The bank, upon recognition of the unauthorised transaction, would reverse the initial payment you received. For example, if the customer paid you £3,000 and asked you to pay a supplier £1,000, when the bank reversed the charges, you would be out £1,000 of your own money.

*Screenshots adapted based off an actual conversation between a photographer and prospective “customer”.

(2) Request for a refund due to cancellation, change in scope, or over-payment
  • A customer contacts you, saying they are happy to proceed provided you accept credit card payments;
  • The customer reduces the scope or cancels the project requesting money back;
  • The customer asks if the refund can be issued to a payment method other than the original card they used.

This scenario is identical to the first scenario, however instead of asking you to pay a “third party supplier”, they are asking you to refund the money via another payment channel (like Western Union, Money Order, etc.).

(3) Using your payment processor as a testing ground

This scenario is slightly different than the previous two, and simply involves using your payment processor to verify that the credit card can be used to process a transaction. If the transaction is successful, they’ll move onto their intended (generally larger) target.

Warning signs to look out for

  • Customers insisting on using a credit card;
  • Customers insisting on paying the full amount, or deposit, prior to confirming the event details;
  • Your quote/price being accepted without questions or issues;
  • Oddly imperfect English (i.e. typos, grammatical mistakes, etc.);
  • Information on the credit card not matching the name of the customer;
  • Customer claims to be booking on behalf of a couple;
  • Generic locations, incorrect addresses, limited geographic knowledge;
  • Refusal to meet in person or via video chat;
  • Receiving messages at odd hours;
  • Requesting for payment of a third-party vendor;
  • Requesting a refund (full or partial) via an alternate payment method;

Any one of the above warning signs may not be enough to cause concern, but a couple may raise some red flags. Of course, there is always the possibility that you’re talking to a real customer, so if you decide to disengage, do so professionally.

How to protect yourself

A new client ready to pay is something that may be hard to say no to. It’s important that you trust your instincts when it comes to situations like this. In saying that, if you do believe the customer is attempting fraudulent activity, you should do the following:

  • Request to have an in-person or video meeting
  • Disengage
  • Never agree to pay other vendors
  • Never agree to issue refunds via alternate payment methods

If you believe you’ve encountered a someone attempting to perpetrate this type of scam through Bidvine, let us know right away and we’ll take appropriate action. Although we have a number of security features in place to inhibit this type of behaviour, these individuals may still find a way through.

As always, no matter where your prospective customers come from, you should remain diligent and trust your instincts and experience.