Scam Alert! and Dealing With Dicks


No, not the iconic Seattle hamburger joint, but real life jerks who have nothing better to do than harass you or attempt to “hire” you for a photo shoot.

It’s amazing that since the inception of the internet, how people have lost their sense of civility. Some have gotten outright rude for no other reason than because they can. And they even go out of their way in doing so.

So this blog is to the two lowlifes who would rather harass or attempt to steal from hard-working people than actually being productive to society.

Number One Douche of the Year:

A couple of weeks ago someone calling themselves Dan Monarch (monarchdn@live.com) e-mailed me asking if I was available to photograph their wedding and the reception. I was a tad excited.

He wanted to fly me from Seattle to San Ramon, Calif., to the Hotel Marriott where his “wedding” would take place. I just thought an overnight trip would be cool.

But something in the e-mails began bothering me so I read deep into his e-mails and concluded solely by the language it had to be a scam. Also, he kept asking me for contact information that was clearly visible in my e-mail signature. He also wanted personal info (bank account) and that’s when I drew the line.

Turns out I was right.

I actually called the hotel he said the reception and ceremony were at. The clerk directed me to their manager of events. What she said to me confirmed it was a scam: “We’ve had over a dozen photographers calling about this concerning the same person Dan Monarch.”

His last e-mail was the kicker:

Dear Paul Conrad,
The check for the initial payment will be mailed to you within 48 to 72hrs and we will
supply you with the shipment details (Tracking number) for the shipment. One more thing
concerning your flight and your hotel reservation/booking. A check of $3500 will be
issued out to you, which you are to deduct $700 for your initial payment and the rest of your
payment will be paid on as agreed . You are to send the remaining funds out
of the check to a booking agent that was arranged to take care of your booking and
reservation.
Please make sure that you send the remaining funds to the booking agent on your
name so that the booking agent will have it in record of your name to avoid any mistake.
Please confirm your address if it is correct before we mail the check out.

OK, scam verified. Why are you sending me a check? Why is it going to cost over $2000 bucks for a plane ticket from here to California? We never agreed on $700 for me to shoot your wedding. What a dick.

Just for the simple fact of appeasement, I filed a complaint with the FTC. Why not. Nothing may happen and the person probably lives in Africa.

The lesson for me in this is simple: Have them call me so I know they’re a real person. That way I know for sure.

But at least there’s some word out on this guy with his e-mail and I encourage everyone to inform others of these unscrupulous characters.

So here’s to you Dan Monarch, if that is your real name, you are nominated for this year’s “Douchebag of the Year” award.

Dried and cracked mud creates a pattern around a computer mouse in a Charles B. Murphy Elementary School classroom six months after the storm surge caused by Hurricane Katrina destroyed Pearlington, Miss. This is the image causes the next series of e-mails.

And Here’s to Number Two!

Just a few weeks ago, I had an e-mail exchange with a local Seattle “businessman” Ben “Jammin” from Team Deadly (whatever) as he was angry that I watermark my photographs.

Here’s his original e-mail:

“you have your fucking name etched into the online photos – so not allowing me to send a photo to someone who might buy iyt (sic) is about as self-centered and stupid as it gets…

Moron!”

Here was my response:

“Thanks for the kind words and the affirmation my watermark prevents theft. After all, I am the one who put time and effort into capturing the image you liked enough to attempt to steal.

And the image of the cracked mud around the computer mouse is one of my all time favorites.

You can, however, send a link to your friend and they will be able to view it. The watermark will still be there. However, when your friend buys a print, the watermark will not be there.

Thank you for your time to view my gallery.

Paul Conrad
professional photographer”

He then sent me this (apparently, he loves to curse):”

“Thank you for reaffirming my initial comment.

If you happened to be smarter than a pile of rocks you would realize that letting your watermarked photos out all over the net would net you some business if your pictures were worth buying.  Obviously you think your work is shitty enough that it’s worth “stealing” with a watermark….  Who the fuck would try and use a watermarked photo for anything other than trying to help you sell originals?  Dumb as a sack of fucking rocks you are.

Here’s a guy that SELLS THE SHIT OUT OF HIS PHOTOS: (a photo was inserted here that linked to this: http://www.frankblauphotography.com/meltdown_2008/index_10.htm#142)

Why?  Because his shit gets shared and everyone who sees it knows where to buy a print.

Grow the fuck up dummy!

Ben”Jammin”
Team Deadly – Official Supplier to the 2011 Olympics

Below is my response to his e-mail broken down in sections:

Thank you for reaffirming my initial comment.
You’re welcome.

If you happened to be smarter than a pile of rocks you would realize that letting your watermarked photos out all over the net would net you some business if your pictures were worth buying.

People buy them all the time. Also, I’ve had to deal with others stealing my images to the point I’ve initiated Copyright infraction suits. One in particular was a local print shop owner who bought a bear print, scanned it and then sold copies for his own profit. So dealing with people who’ve stole my images is nothing new to me, but a bit tiring and tedious.

Obviously you think your work is shitty enough that it’s worth “stealing” with a watermark….

I’ve been published in many national and international newspapers, newsmagazines, books, and featured in multiple Pictures of the Week and Pictures of the Year by MSNBC, ABC News, and New York Times.

I’ve won a multitude of awards from the Colorado Press Association, Kentucky News Photographers Association, Kentucky Press Association, Associated Press, MSNBC, NPPA Photographer of the Year, and some other smaller ones. The plaques and awards just sit in a box.

I’m also in the New York Times Documenting the decade slide show. In fact the photo of the cracked mud is in it:  ( http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/2009-decade.html#/2006_3_31202 )

I also host free workshops to beginning photographers to help them build their skills.

Who the fuck would try and use a watermarked photo for anything other than trying to help you sell originals? (Didn’t you first complain that I watermarked my photos?)

There are programs one can buy to eliminate the watermark. You can also crop out the watermark in certain cases without affecting the image quality or its meaning.

But I do see your point. And since you’ve brought that to my attention, I’ll give it a whirl. Maybe release a few to see how things go and decide from their. It’s actually a good marketing point.

People also poach my images from my blog to use on their computers and as a result have sold prints that way.  So, again, I see how letting them out may help sales.

Most my work is news. Newspapers, newsmagazines, and the like. Who would want a print of a screaming bear cub or crying woman on their wall? Prints are just a side note.

Thanks Ben

What I find funny is that his original complaint was that I watermarked my images for the web. Then he says: “Who the **** would try tan use a watermarked photo for anything other than trying to help you sell originals?”

His original complaint was  that I had my name “etched” onto them and he couldn’t send the originals.  Sounds to me he changed his mind 180° from his original complaint.

What I don’t understand is that the photographs are mine and I own them, so why not?

Now, could someone with an intelligence higher than a stoned rat give me a good explanation of why I shouldn’t watermark my images?

Thanks for reading

Paul Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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20 comments

  1. Hey, Pablo,
    Good posting a a good forewarning. This kind of scam; “I’m sending you more money than agreed on, so send the extra to a friend” thing has hit pretty hard all over. Even the Hotel Jerome got taken for thousands. We’re finding in the want ads and Craig’s List for everything from renters, to selling cars to you-name-it. And believe it or not, some people have been scammed more than once! They come to us asking as to what we can do. The short answer; nothing.
    Wonderful exchange with the D-Bag who wants to “use” your hard work, talent and time! HA! Almost as bad as some of the “contests” who get full rights to the photos with no recourse. I have read some of the rules that then go on to say that if your photo is chosen, even YOU can’t use it in the future! Perfect! Brilliant!
    Thanks for post,
    Geo

    Like

  2. Wow.. douchbages of the year awards for sure! Thankfully scams like that are easy enough to spot, and only a complete moron would go for it, but yet they keep trying dont they. Thanks for getting the word out on this one.
    As for the other douch and his problems with watermarks, that’s the single biggest proof that all photographers should watermark all of their work as big as possible. I used to think that droping extremely low rez and dpi images online was enough to prevent theft, but it really does nothing since ive actually seen idiots print these things and wonder why they look like $hit. At least the watermark gets them thinking!
    Kudos 2 you

    Like

  3. you have a great nose for bull crap cause i bought right into this dudes line of crap as you know … i guess what my dad always said was true “never believe two things .. the checks in the mail and the chows on the drop zone..” sorry the army brat in me comes out from time to time.. as for the other dude … ugh is all i have to say !! its douches like him that force you to have to watermark things .. i hope hes reading your blog .. and you know he is cause hes got such a inflated self opinion lol

    Like

  4. We been approached today by a Don Monarch asking about a website and he is physically impaired, would like to use his credit card to make his payments.

    He stopped communicating when we asked him about the above positn , he uses this email – monarchdn@live.com

    Like

    1. There was really something sketchy that caught my eye when reading his 2nd e-mail to me. It was his wording.

      In his first e-mail, he said he was handicapped and lived in Marysville, Wash., and liked my work on my website. My website is news, sports, and portraits, not wedding. So I sent him a response with my rate, non-refundable booking fee, two links to wedding I’ve shot, and my rate which he said was in his budget.

      His second letter is when I caught his word usage and it was very familiar to some of the e-mail scams I’ve been sent. “I’m Mr. So&So from Uganda, blah, blah blah…”

      Then he stated it was in San Ramon at the Marriott and that he would pay to fly me out there. I called the Marriott and the booking manager told me of now such name or date and that “about a dozen other photographers called asking about the same person.”

      That confirmed it was a scam.

      Just want to pass the word out not to deal with this individual.

      Like

  5. LOL this guy just contacted me for a wedding in denver. I googled his name and found this blog too funny. who falls for this stuff? I think I’ll string him a long for a while.

    Like

    1. Thanks Doug.

      I just can’t believe he’s using the same e-mail. I filed a fraud complaint with the FTC and FCC, but apparently nothing’s being done.

      Pass the word and let people know.

      Have a great weekend.

      Like

    2. Me too just the other day! I dont even have any wedding photos on my site and I don’t think I have my information on the site he found me on, so since he asked me to shoot his wedding and didnt specify where, I googled him and found this. Thanks for positing about him. I never answered him but stringing him along could be fun 🙂

      Like

      1. Thanks for stopping by Nadia.

        If we are all vigilant in letting others know of scam artists such as this, our industry will improve that tiniest of bits.

        I’m glad I could help.

        Like

  6. You can add me to the list of contact by “Dan Monarch”. Thanks for posting this. I thought for about 10-15 seconds of what my reply should be to him, until I smartened up and started Googling lol His name doesn’t provide much info, unless he’s the guy on Facebook. However, the email address brought me to your blog, which answered all my questions.
    Thanks again – I think this confirms why I should start my own blog 😉

    Like

  7. Hi Paul, I’m a photographer that just got contacted by this “Dan Monarch” to photograph a wedding. The email “monarchdn@live.com” was through a third party website so I was immediately suspicious. Also, most my business is through referrals so this seemed bizarre for a random stranger to inquire. Lastly, the email was written very poorly. I googled the name and email address and was happy to find this blog post. Thank you for saving me of possibly contacting him hoping to get business and getting scammed. I now know it is good practice to research potential clients. You also hit on good points with watermarked images. I have definitely got people upset over my photostamps in the past. In the age of internet we have to watermark! Sometimes I find my images on other people’s blogs and websites but when they are watermarked at least I am still getting credit for that photo and I would hope that would bring someone to my website. Finally, Geo hit on a good point about photo contests – Always read the fine print! I have been very close to entering contests online and then read that just by entering the contest and uploading a photo that this company then immediately has full rights to use your image any way they want and can profit off of it without having to give you credit. Two companies I can think of right now that do this – American Photo Magazine and Images USA. And even National Geographic natgeo.com when entering the “Your Shot” contest will use your image on their website – I have found my images in a web article about Guatemala before that I was never contacted they were going to use (it would be nice to at least know!). As photographers we need to be careful. Anyway, I appreciate your post. Leslie

    Like

    1. Glad to have helped out Leslie.

      I too read the fine print on photo contests. Most seem to be rights grabbing contests to fill their image base in order to illustrate articles for the next year.

      Some are just to make money for organizers. Those are the ones that the cost to enter is high compared to the prizes that are put out.

      As for watermarks, anyone who complains about them just wants to steal them for their own use.

      Thanks again.

      Like

  8. Just received the mail from Don Monarch proposing me to shoot his wedding… 😉 thanks god I’ve googled it and found your post! I’ve just trashed the “proposal”. THANKS!

    Like

    1. Glad to be of some help Enrico.

      If every instance by these scammers was reported, and a database accessible to everyone, then it would truly help consumers, and sole business owners.

      Like

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