Instagram Scam Targeting Video Editors: "I was Just Hoping You Could Make a Birthday Slideshow..."
Updated: Jul 24
As a video editor, you’ll likely get lots of inquiries about different projects. Hopefully, most of these are potential clients for you, but you don need to be aware of the scammers as well. One of these scams is what I call the Birthday Slideshow scam.
Video Editors on Instagram are getting scammed by people claiming to want a Birthday slideshow for their daughter. They offer to pay around $300, which is fairly generous for the work the project requires. Then they insist on using a check and run a check scam on the unsuspecting editor stealing money from them.
We get a few of these messages a month so we want other video editors out there to know what’s going on.
Understanding the Scam
Let's delve into how this scam operates. Scammers typically target video editors with small accounts, often possessing around 100 followers and only a handful of random posts. They initiate contact through Instagram's direct messaging feature, inquiring:
"Hey! Are you a Video editor?"
Once you respond positively, they proceed to share their seemingly innocent request:
“I was just hoping you could make a birthday slideshow for my daughter. I’ll like to have her pictures and a song played in the slideshow. Willing to pay $300.”
At first glance, this might appear as a simple and easy job for an independent video editor, making it an appealing proposition, especially for those seeking extra income during slow work periods.
The Red Flags
Here's where they introduce the scam. Scammers insist on using their preferred payment method, even if you have a different system in place for your business. They might respond with something like:
"No, I use a business account and it doesn’t support third-party applications. I’ll need your name and email address to write you a mobile check deposit for payment, please."
This should be the first red flag that raises suspicion.
If you agree to their terms, they'll send you a check for an amount higher than the agreed-upon $300, and that's where the deception deepens. They'll request you to cash the check and return the excess money to them. In reality, the check they sent you is likely fraudulent, and once your bank realizes this, you'll be left responsible for the entire amount you sent back to the scammer, effectively losing both the money and your time invested in the video project.
Learning from Past Scams
This Instagram Video Editor Scam is not new; it is similar to a scam that plagued the independent songwriter industry a few years ago. It looks like they’re expanding to other industries.
In fact, a news article reported a case where a local songwriter was scammed after receiving a request for an original birthday song. You can read more about it here: News Article Link
Additionally, a Reddit post in the musicians' subreddit highlighted a similar scam alert where people were asked for a birthday song. You can check it out here: Reddit Post Example
How to Protect Yourself
Stay Vigilant: Be cautious when receiving inquiries from unfamiliar accounts, especially those with only a few posts and minimal followers.
Verify Payment Methods: Stick to your established payment methods and avoid accepting checks from strangers or those unwilling to use secure payment platforms. Nobody these days is really unable to use a debit or credit card.
Report Suspicious Accounts: If you encounter a potential scammer, report their account to Instagram. By doing so, you contribute to the collective effort to make the platform safer for all users.
Educate Others: Share your experiences and warnings about the scam with your fellow video editors and other creative communities. Raising awareness is crucial in preventing others from getting preyed on.
People are always getting scammed online. Scammers especially prey on those who are eager (or even desperate) for opportunities. As you grow your video editing business remember to stay cautious, ask questions, and be proactive in safeguarding your craft and livelihood. By working together, the community can ensure a safer and more supportive environment for all creatives.