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John Githens

Well-Known Member
Mar 13, 2018
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Island County, Washington State
Heads up, the "drone work scam" is still happening. If you have a drone-related business and are contacted by someone who claims they have a well-paying job for you, be very alert. In my case the scammer found a live real estate listing 3 hours from my home base, then made contact through my website, asking if I do aerial photography and offering a reasonable sum for some work. I'll skip the rest of the story and no harm was done to me, however scammers are getting smarter about how to pretend to be a legitimate customer. In this case, the usual tips that this was a scam were not initially obvious. Other email accounts will be used, however "Chris Terrell" was in the email address. You've been warned!
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I often work with a higher end real estate photography agency. The owner has been hit by this numerous times and avoids it by requiring payment up front. I require up-front payment, at least partially, if I don't know where the request is coming from. I also check the client out and make sure he or she is really in business.

I believe this is a variation of the "pay for this too" scam, where before you get your money, they promise you extra, but you will pay some local person for "extra" work he has also performed. Then, they run with the money you paid and you get nothing. It's usually right at below $5K because that is one of the investigatory agency cutoffs. They also always keep trying to make you feel bad for even questioning the validity of their "request".

They may also send you a "certified" check up front, which is actually a forgery, that will take the bank several weeks to find it to be fake (then you are stuck owing the bank).
I got one overnighted, after telling the person I wasn't interested and I immediately called the company the check was drawn on and their bank. It was a stolen check, but below $5K so the Federal authorities weren't interested.
Heck, most of the drone project sites out there should be considered scams. Jobs requesting 25 photos with a budget of $100. Didn't realize I had a flashing red light at my front door. Sorry, do not prostitute myself.
I was wondering when someone would comment about the "hire a drone pilot" websites. I have yet to see any posted job that was worth the initial setup effort, multiple battery charging cycles, travel time and mileage, onsite risk and time (especially in urban locations over busy roads and walking people), file packaging and delivery effort, and all for the offered price. Apparently some have bid and performed jobs posted on the websites. I hope they actually made some genuine profit as perceived by a CPA.
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