And a unique one at that!

On Friday, I got an email, to my surprise, asking me if I would be available to shoot a wedding in DENVER.  Ho…an overseas wedding?

Wait…why me?

First off, I rarely if ever shoot weddings.  I’ve shot society weddings for the New York Times but I hardly ever take on weddings.

Second, because I’m not known for weddings, no one hires me as their wedding photographer. If you asked me to shoot a location, portrait, or travel to some destination…sure, I know I advertise for that work.  But a wedding?

Third, I am not a wedding guy, but there are numerous wedding guys all over California and Colorado.  And many are pretty good.  Am I that good that someone that doesn’t speak English as a first language would fly me to Denver to a wedding?

Hmmm….so the email starts as such:

From: mack carthy
Subject: Wedding
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 6:06 PM

I will like to know if you can shoot a wedding of about 100 guest. Please let me know so that I can give you details.


Regarda?  The name Mack Cathy sounds strange but it doesn’t sound like someone who would say “regarda,” and after searching the ‘net, I don’t see any definition of said word other than something on Wiktonary which said:

  1. third-person singular past historic form of regarder

Clue #1.  This person either is a scam or they really can’t speak English.  After all, “I will like…” is not correct but I figure they must be a foreigner, saw my work on line and figured I’d respond.  It wasn’t as if someone was trying to let me shoot their uncle’s wedding, who happens to be a political prisoner of the Kingdom of Samarakand AND needs to move $8 million US to my bank and needs my help.

So I respond:

Date: Fri, 24 Jun 2011 15:39:11 -0700
From: marcoinhawaii
Subject: Re: Wedding
To: mccarthy


Who recommended me to shoot your wedding?  How did you find me?

What and when are the details?



— On Fri, 6/24/11, mack carthy wrote:

From: mack carthy
Subject: Details
To: marco
Date: Friday, June 24, 2011, 7:13 PM

Thanks for the mail,Here is a little about the wedding.The wedding is taking place in Denver, Colorado. It is an 7 hours event starting from 9am till 4 pm. It is an indoor event which consist of 100 guest at most, I will like you to cover the reception as well which will start from 2 Pm till 4 pm on that day. The wedding date is 1st of September 2011. I will like the picture to be on a CD, and I don’t have a wedding planner, I plan it by myself.
You may think about the flight and hotel accommodation, there is provision for that , my flight agent will make arrangement for that. I think with all the details have given to you now, you should be able to calculate and let me know how much it will cost. Please get back to me as soon as possible .I got you from Photoserve

Best Regards

So Best Regards…my idiot brother in law who learned the King’s English in London when he was a kid will email us with stupid, slightly archaic closings as such but there are too many grammatical mistakes and promises that seem too good to be true.  Even though he’s an idiot, his Engrish is near perfect and wouldn’t make stupid grammatical mistakes.  Notice…the writer still has not stated his name.  Who is this person?  I figure this must be a scam but its a pretty good one.  I googled his/her name hoping they’d be some CEO of Samarkand but no luck.

Clue #2 and that’s sort of where the trail ends…

They found me on Photoserve but don’t advertise on there as a wedding guy.  Why would they be searching for a wedding guy there?  They are trying to lure me into a web and it seems way too simple and too easy to believe.  And a guy who is spending big money (think: flight, hotel, car, travel days, meals, assistant, etc……at least $4000, my fee…$$$$$….) and all they want is a CD.  No way.  This person is an idiot but being very crafty.  This totally is a new scam to catch the unsuspecting.


Date: Sat, 25 Jun 2011 11:35:49 -0700
From: marco
Subject: RE: Details
To: mccarthy02@


thanks so much for considering to shoot your wedding.

With so much anonymity on the internet, can you tell me about yourself?  I don’t know your full name or anything about you.

Who is getting married?
Where exactly is the wedding?
What is the name of the place where the wedding is taking place?
What is your full name?
What do you do for a living?
How do you plan to pay for the wedding?
Where are you from?
Why do you want to hire me for your wedding?
What is your budget?

I primarily don’t shoot weddings so why do you want to fly me to Denver to shoot your wedding?

I would appreciate any references you can give me as well.

Thank you,


I surely asked the right questions.  I should have just blew it off but the way the scam works the ego is fairly unique.  I started to feel a sense of importance.  I am an international photographer and someone with funds is choosing me to shoot one of their most important days of their life.  That’s a pretty good sense of importance created in their email.

Yet, the glaring mistakes in their grammar, punctuation, and promises were all to hard to miss and believe.

and sure enough:

From: mack carthy
Subject: RE: Details
To: marco
Date: Monday, June 27, 2011, 9:54 AM

Thanks so much, since you cant shoot wedding, no problem.


They caved.  They realized the scam was spotted and moved on.  Notice they did not answer all weekend meaning they must have been in a time zone so different than Hawaii that they either slept through the response or the internet cafe might have been closed on Sundays.

Advice to photographers:  If its too good to be true…well, you know.  I feel this way all the time with mag editors and the likes.  I’ve gone as far as to even ask small magazines who call me up for jobs how their finances are.  I got burned by Ode Magazine.  I shot a cover of Jack Johnson for them and they stiffed me for $1500.  Scum bags.  Who cares.  Its a long time ago and I got my expenses paid which was important.  These days, I’d be weary of just about anyone asking me to shoot something where money is coming out of my pocket.

Advise to scammers:  Learn better English.  Learn how to punctuate.  Study how to write properly and use a little slang.  If its too formal, which I’ve seen, we won’t buy it.  Learn to write like a native…which you probably can’t and that’s why you can’t fool us all.  Make your promises a bit more softer and don’t be so obvious.  Not all of us are pure idiots.  It might have worked once in the very beginning but we know most of the internet scams.  However, your scam ideas are getting very good.  Targeting a new segment in the market is great.  Brilliant by my standards.  Its a great way to reach into an untapped market.  I mean its almost believable.  I was thinking I was going to Denver in September. Its a pretty good ploy…fantastic as a matter of fact.

Bravo, you bored Kenyan, Russian, or Chinese hacker.  Bravo.

By the way, the last wedding I shot was last year for my pals DC and SK.  I guess its now DC and SKC.  I don’t know…SK, did you change your name?