This is a perennial post on my blog now.
There are a lot of scammers out there who want to take advantage of you.
This is especially so in a freelance gig worker job where jobs can sometimes be few and far between. Slow times of the year (December into January definitely comes to mind) mean film workers can get desperate for that next job, especially if they’re entry level like a production assistant, and living on a paycheck by paycheck basis. It’s possible these scammers are aware of the slow times for work and we’re going to tap into that later.
These scams can target a person in many different ways. I’ve received e-mails from either very fake sounding names (Vincent TONG) or very famous sounding names (Steven Spielberg, scammers? Really?). I’ve received text messages that claim I was discovered on some film directory and my “skills” are perfect for this job, and I just need to contact them to learn more.
Here’s a common copy-pasted scam I’ve seen under a bunch of names. I’ve actually posted one such version below here so you can compare.
Red Flags? We have many:
- awkward grammar (non-native English speaker)
- imaginary profile on “film production directory.”
- Weird punctuation – “Titled” is capitalized, but the actual film title is inexplicably in parentheses and lowercase.
- $1800 for a production assistant. Also what’s the rate of pay? Is that supposed to be a day rate?
- “Stay Blessed” – common in scam e-mails. See also: Kind Regards.
The scammer can also create a fake social media profile, often spoofing a real person’s name and information, and contact you directly or make job posts online to lure in as many unsuspecting victims as possible.
So what is the scammer’s goal? Easy. To steal your money or even your identity.
One of the most common scams targeting film workers is the check cashing scam. Someone asks you to cash a check, saying you’ll get part of it and someone else gets the rest. The check is fake and you’re out thousands of dollars.
Here’s an example of a word-vomit e-mail that is likely the lead-up to a check cashing scam. I blanked out the name of the sender because they were impersonating a real person.
The red flags in this email:
- It’s too long! My legitimate job emails usually are: “Hi, you were recommended by So-and-So. We have a feature coming up in March and we’re looking for a camera operator. Are you available? What are your rates?”
- bad spelling/grammar
- Asking for way too much personal information.
- $1800 – they like this number, don’t they?
- Pre-production pay? What?
- Kind Regards AND Stay Blessed
- More information section*
*This section is where we have the lead up to the check cashing scam. they’ll likely send a check, it will look real, prior to the job start date. They expect you to put that in your bank account. They either expect you to send money elsewhere at that point, or they’ll get your bank info and clean out your account.
The Federal Trade Commission has an article about fake checks that you should peruse, especially as it explains how scammers get away with these fake checks:
Sometimes the scam isn’t even offering you a job, it’s saying you owe someone money. Recently, this message was sent out to union members:
this is where I was going to leave this installment of “Bridget takes on the scammers” but then something happened.
Remember when I said they prey on people who are eager to work or during a slow time of the year?
The following scam is one I received four days after applying for unemployment. This scammer somehow found my email during that process. I spoke with a friend who had applied for disability, and she got the same email.
They prey on the desperate. They prey on the uninformed. Don’t take the bait, be savvy, and stay safe out there.
Have you come across a job scam and want to share? Fill out the form below.
Previous posts on this topic:
Common Film Job Scams and How to Avoid Them