The Internet is a petri dish of scams and misinformation, with the term “fake news” even entering the general lexicon following the 2016 US campaign for president.
Now a new scam has emerged that is a variation on the old Nigerian oil wealth scheme but this one has a unique twist to it that makes it particularly interesting.
This scam uses famous US photographer Jill Greenberg and her company’s name and reputation in an attempt to lure prospective models into a creative iteration of the advance-fee scam.
What the advance-fee scam is in practice is when an Internet source, almost always unsolicited, will contact a person through email (or phone, scams take many forms) and, in order to receive some reward, sum of money, job opportunity, or what have you, the person contacted need only forward a small sum of money to a third-party in the form of a deposit, fee, etc.
This scam has seen use in every application from “unlocking a vast overseas fortune” described in an email (always being held by corrupt government officials who are so thoroughly venal they merely monitor your vast fortune) to bogus apartment rentals on Craigslist.
The suspect line from the scam email reads in part: “In addition, an advanced deposit/upfront pay of $500 shall be mailed to you to ensure your engagement on the upcoming cast with us in line with our business ethics…However, you will NOT only receive a paycheck of $500 but also an EXTRA amount that you will use to pay for your wardrobe/Costume bills which you will forward to the Fashion stylist in charge of your Wardrobe/Costume along with your measurements.”
Aside from the non-colloquial use of English – strange capitalizations of Fashion, Wardrobe, and Costume, use of the word engagement, and the downright bizarre construction within context of “upfront pay” – the tip off that this is a scam is the line “an EXTRA amount that you will use to pay for your wardrobe/Costume bills which you will forward to the Fashion stylist.”
What proceeds is the scammed person receives a check, deposits it, sends the “extra” money to the person listed, the deposited check bounces, the third party keeps the money, and the scheme moves on to someone else.
Another clue that should immediately cue in any savvy Internet user was the email arrived from “firstname.lastname@example.org” which is not even the domain name for Jill Greenberg’s agency.
The scam has apparently become so widespread that the Jill Greenberg website now warns people about it.