The 'accidental overpayment': Wedding scams targeting people and businesses

It's the day of your wedding and the photographer you hired — based on their flashy website — doesn't show up. 

Or you're an event planner and the supposed couple you're planning a wedding for tricks you into sending them money from a fraudulent cheque you deposit.

With wedding season on the horizon, the Better Business Bureau is warning both individuals and businesses to be careful of scammers.

"[With] a lot of these scams you're not meeting the people," said Evan Kelly, spokesperson for the BBB of Mainland B.C.

"If you're setting up a wedding, if you're an event planner, you've got to meet these people at specific venues and get contracts written up. A lot of the case all the business is just done by email — that to me is a big red flag right off the top." 

One of the new scams the BBB is noticing is what Kelly calls the "accidental overpayment".

In this scheme, one's business is contacted by someone who wants a lavish wedding and then proceeds to send the business a cheque for more than is necessary. 

They claim it was an accident, ask you to deposit it, and then send a specific amount to another vendor supposedly involved in the wedding — such as a caterer — through an email transfer. 

That money goes through, but the cheque bounces. 

"If anybody comes to you with more than what you're asking, or more than what's on offer, that's a huge red flag," Kelly said.

"People need to understand that if you deposit a fraudulent cheque in your bank, you are responsible for it. If you take out money against it right away, that's not the bank's problem."

Look out for these other scams that target the big day for couples:

Knock-off wedding dresses

These are often found online — a dress that claims to be a real Vera Wang for a price too good to be true. They are only an imitation, if they even arrive after purchasing. The BBB suggests shopping at reputable stores, and only purchasing online through a reputable portal like PayPal.

Fake photographers

They will often have a dazzling website, have no problem in booking the couple's time slot, yet are reluctant to meet in person. In some cases they demand full payment before the wedding day, and then they don't show up. Ask friends for photographer recommendations, and ask the photographer for references, the BBB suggests. You can also search the BBB database for reputable photographers.

Gift grabber

Watch out for wedding crashers who make off with the happy couple's gifts. The BBB suggests that the couple asks guests not to bring wrapped presents or money to the venue, or to keep the gift table inaccessible to anyone but invited guests.

Unlicensed individuals

This is especially relevant to those holding their nuptials overseas. Be aware of local laws and who can officiate weddings, and whether the marriage certificate is recognized in your home country, the BBB recommends.

Would-be wedding expo

Watch out for websites that pop up claiming a wedding expo is coming to town, and that your business has to pay a small fee to set up a booth. Always check the references of the event planner, and check with the venue where the expo is to be held.