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Valentine’s scam targets wedding industry


WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – A West Haven Justice of the Peace reached out to News 8 when someone claiming to want a Valentine’s wedding tried to scam him out of more than $2,000.

Romance is in the air, and lots of couples get married around Valentine’s Day. So it was not a surprise when Justice of the Peace Steven R. Mullins got a text about officiating a wedding this weekend.

“Are you available?” Mullins said, recounting the texts. “I said ‘I’m available.’ I gave him my fee.”

His fee came to about $200. Then came the texts that made Mullins think the whole thing was a scam: A text that said there had been a mistake with the check.

“Instead of him sending a separate check to you and our photographer, he sent both on a single check,” Mullins read off his phone screen.

Days later, Mullins got a money order in the mail for $2,350. They wanted him to deposit the money order, keep his $200, and electronically transfer the remaining $2,150 to the alleged photographer. They even described how best to do it: “If you don’t mind you can make use of the ATM for a faster deposit,” the text read

Whoever was running this scam was pressuring Mullins to take that money order to an ATM, deposit it in his account, and immediately transfer the money to the phony “photographer,” which was really just an account belonging to the scammer.

The scammer wanted it done quickly, at an ATM, because there were multiple things wrong with that money order that any living, breathing bank teller would have spotted immediately. The money order had no watermarks, and almost no one issues a money order for more than a thousand dollars.

After confirming it was bogus with his bank, Steven kept leading the scammer on with texts demanding to see a copy of the marriage license, until finally telling the scammer that he knew what was going on. The scammer then tried to laugh it off.”

“You’re kinda funny too,” Mullins read off his phone. “So they know the gig is up.”

What is not funny is how many times things like this happen. In fact, Mullins got a similar text a couple of years ago and ignored it.

“Knowing that, several years later it’s happening again, only God knows how many other wedding vendors, whether it be JPs, disc jockeys, or photographers, videographers have gone through the same thing and actually lost money on it,” Mullins said.

Mullins said police told him there was not much they could do, because he did not actually lose any money on the scam. Mullins just wants to warn people in the wedding industry that taking money out of your own account for a client does not usually lead to happily ever after.

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