Despite the frustration and embarrassment of going against my own rules and judgments, I’m grateful this scam failed. I’m grateful I didn’t desperately need the booking. I’m grateful I didn’t choose to float the overpayment for the sake of making a complicated situation easier. I’m grateful that I didn’t show up to a fake address with cash, hundreds more in photography gear and my young female assistant, to potentially fall victim to an even grosser crime: robbery, and possibly even assault.

There's no way to tell how far this scammer would've gone for $1,439.92. 

The moral of this story is to listen to your gut. You govern yourself in very sense of the word, which means you call the shots AT ALL TIMES. Don’t let anyone, real or online, talk you into doing anything outside of your comfort zone. Put yourself FIRST and question everything. Secondly, share your experience with others and raise awareness about these scams. Blog about it, file a police report, and submit the evidence to your bank.


Monday, December 4th, 2023 - I received a text message from a man who identified himself as “John Decaro” requesting a quote for photo coverage for a birthday party on 12/19 at his home in Cibolo. Given that event coverage is not a service I advertise for, I wasn’t very interested. However, because “John” provided all the details that legitimized the ask straight away, I decided to respond.

Considering the event was less than two weeks away and would require some last minute arrangements in order to accommodate it, I quoted him well over my typical hourly rate (plus tax) totaling $2,110.88. Less than two hours later, he accepted the quote and said he would be paying in full to secure the date and time via Cashier’s Check through the mail.

After a quick search, I learned that a Cashier’s Check was a legitimate form of payment, and although I'd never accepted this form of payment before, I decided to give this client the benefit of the doubt and agreed.


Sunday, December 10th - “John” texts me to let me know that the check is in the mail and includes a legitimate USPS tracking number. He tells me it should arrive Monday or Tuesday.  The next morning, he texts me again and - in hindsight - this is exactly where the scam reveals itself.

Immediately, my stomach turns. Firstly, I don’t handle payment on behalf of other vendors for obvious reasons. Secondly, and more importantly, why did I feel obligated to resolve this issue on his behalf? I didn’t need the money or even want the booking in the first place, so… why did I feel so committed to following through? Hint: Scammers prey on your sense of urgency!

I replied that it wasn’t a problem and that I'd bring the planner cash. In the meantime, I would await the arrival of the overpayment feeling extremely regretful for accepting this booking, and overanxious about how I was going to get out of this situation altogether.


Tuesday, December 12th - “John” texts me at 7:02 AM to let me know that the payment has been delivered and to deposit it and wait for it to clear. I was busy that morning, so I didn't reply. At 1:42 PM, he texts me again wondering if the payment has been deposited. I replied that I was away from the office and would when I returned.

Later, when I finally opened the envelope, I become physically sick with fear and anxiety. The cashier’s check looked and felt fraudulent and was full of typographical errors. My name was misspelled, the bank that supposedly issued the check had a New York address, and the sender on the USPS envelope (Chris Borris) had a Massachusetts address. Oh, and the authorized signee read OPRAH WINFREY! 

According to RBFCU, "CLEARED" on the memo line is a dead giveaway.

Despite my gut feeling, I attempt to mobile deposit the check with Wells Fargo. Before I can confirm the transaction, the bank warns me that only $200 of the $3,550 will clear that day and that the rest will not be made available until 12/21 - two days AFTER the event.

I wish I were kidding that for a brief moment, I entertained the idea of floating the difference just to make this whole situation go away. By the grace of God, I didn't, and instead text “John” and tell him that I'd have to visit the bank and see what they could do. At 5:27 PM he replies, “Not a problem, You can take it to the bank and deposit it."

His unconcerned reply left me feeling like somehow my suspicions would be a non-issue even at the bank.


Wednesday, December 13, at 8:17 AM - “John” texts me asking if the payment has been deposited “so I can have my account officer informed for approval”. 

Firstly, when the fuck would I have gone to the bank between 5:00 yesterday and 8:00 this morning?! Secondly, that's not how Cashier's Checks work.

At this point, I’m furious (mostly with myself) and annoyed with how much time and energy (and loss of sleep) I've spent on this selfish prick. My husband, Perry, who has been trying to convince me to take back control this entire time, encourages me to send a stern reply, go to the bank, and end this once and for all. After all, they're the experts and there wasn't any reason to be embarrassed for asking for help.


Later that morning RBFCU confirmed the check was fraudulent and flagged the original copy. Up until then I didn’t want to believe that I was being scammed (despite what my gut - and Perry - had been telling me). I wanted to believe the person who I’d been speaking with in real-time for over a week. That “John” was a busy man trying to plan his wife’s birthday party while out on business and simply made an accounting error. That I was jumping to conclusions and overthinking the whole situation.

Why? Because, scammers prey on your sense of urgency! Even though this scammer’s plan was full of holes, by design they appeared simple enough to be easily minimized. And if you’re like me, who has never been targeted like this before and who prides herself on being flexible, it almost worked. 

How many more photographers did "John" have on his roster while attempting to scam me?