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.

Hello,
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. I will like the picture to be on a CD, and I don’t have a wedding planner, I plan it by myself. Please reply me by e-mail cos I am physically impaired (Hearing).
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,Calculate your fee alone, 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 just contacted you via marketing tools and want to know if you can handle it.
Thanks
Cheers

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:

I need to know the address of the wedding and reception in order to book my accommodations. This will better enable me to send you a more precise quote including travel and expenses.
You can see my wedding package here.http://www.gilasplace.com/wedding

I am curious as to why you are looking to hire a Missouri photographer for a Colorado wedding. Surely there must be a photographer closer that would be more economical than flying one in?

09-28-11 (6:52 pm) This was Mr. James reply to me:

Event Center, Denver Colorado 4400 East Kentucky Avenue, Denver  and the reception will take place at the same place.
I will prefer to make the arrangement for the flight with my booking agent from here. Please let me know how much I need to pay for it and how much I need to pay as the initial deposit to get the date reserved.
Please let me have the name and the address to send  the check for the deposit to. The date is almost near so I want everything to work out fast.
Please get back to me soonest
Cheers

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.

09-30-11

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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