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Event planners on high alert following an increase in scammer planning fake parties

Posted at 9:45 PM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 23:21:44-04

TAMPA BAY, Fla. — Alyssa Rhoads says she got an “off” feeling from a man planning a surprise 10th wedding anniversary for his wife when he sent a check for $2,000 more than her fee to plan the party.

“He had a lot of specific details, a date in September that he was wanted, a very specific budget of $14,000 for 40 people which is a really nice budget,” Rhoads said.  

Rhoads said the man told her he lived in Orlando and couldn’t travel to meet her face to face. She said he had a list of venues he was interested in and was very polite and organized.

“He made it seem like he was doing something nice for his wife,” Rhoads said. “Definitely somebody new to the industry, excited to get their first client, maybe it’s something they would fall for.”

Rhoads didn’t fall for it. She did a quick Google search for “event planner scams” that confirmed what she already knew.

“Verbatim it came up,” Rhoads said. “It was a 10-year anniversary party with a $14,000 budget, for 40 people, and my heart sank. I knew that I was being scammed.”

Rhoads started Eventing Tampa Bay five years ago and never had a so-called "client" try and scam her.

“This is a first for me,” Rhoads said.  

When she confronted the man via text, he never responded back.

Worried she wasn’t the only event planner the man contacted she posted a warning on Facebook.

"A lot of my industry friends immediately contacted and commented on my post saying this same thing has happened to them; photographers, people working at venues, different event planners,” Rhoads said.  

Thankfully, none of her friends fell for the scam.

Rhoads said it’s a good reminder for people to wait until a check from the customer clears the bank before paying any money to a vendor.