Sometimes You Get Bamboozled

I consider myself a person with a good head on her shoulders. Can point out a fraudster almost immediately, I have worked in hospitality for over 20 years and you get good at this. I have over the years helped catch a Travelers Check scheme, credit card fraud, and numerous fake bills. I would say I am above average when it comes to pointing our fraudulent items. So the following story pisses me off because I felt something was off and I didn’t follow my gut.

I started performing wedding ceremonies for extra money, I figured a nice side gig (especially with COVID cutting hours). I had been listed for a while (almost 2 years) on the Universal Life Church website, never really had any serious inquiries. I have done a couple weddings here and there for guests. I never had done anything via email or website it had all been in person. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I get an email about a date in October. We exchanged pleasantries, no red flags. After one exchange where the wedding was to be held, I started to get suspicious it was a duplex (in a iffy part of the city). I brushed it off, they are probably renting, small ceremony because of COVID etc., etc. I drew up a contract, so I wouldn’t get burned (my gut was telling me there was something there). I had the hubby read it and sent it off via email.

I actually forgot about it until this morning when I woke up to an email stating (that was sent at 12:09am) they had sent the check and over paid me because they wanted me to pay for their photographer. They threw in an extra $30 for me. Reg flags, sirens, etc. going off. I showed the email to my hubby, he said where are they sending the check. I responded, “here to the house.” He looked at me like I had lost my mind, “you gave our address, why didn’t you give the hotel address? I am surprised because you didn’t give your phone number (I used a Google Voice number).” I looked at him and said, “I didn’t think about it, that is why I had you read the contract for things like that.” I could tell he was mad, I was mad at myself for not listening to my gut. He said “you need to only do weddings through the hotels.” I told him I completely agreed, I had already disabled everything so I can’t be contacted.

I responded back to the email, at this point I think it is a bot or just a scammer. I did say I was going to return the check and would not be officiating their wedding and I was terminating the contract. If the letter actually comes, instead of sending it back to them I am going to bring everything to the police. If the person reaches out to me again, I will let them know I have contacted the authorities. My gut is telling me they aren’t going to do anything. If they do they are going to target me and try the whole identity theft thing (and they will be really disappointed).

I guess I wanted it to be true an actual wedding, that I got paid for because it has been a rough year. Instead I got bamboozled (because I didn’t trust my gut) and freaking out that some crazy person has my home address. I am thankful for two dogs that will protect their family like nobody’s business (seriously Wally would not let anyone in his house without the blessing of his family). I am mad at myself because I didn’t follow my gut. I deactivated everything affiliated with the ULC and will not be accepting any weddings via email, only through hotels or friends.

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