PetaPixel

Photographer Offers Groupon Deal Using Stolen Photographs, Chaos Ensues

It looked like quite a deal — a photographer with an impressive portfolio of photographs offering a $500 photo package for $65 on the social buying website Groupon. The offer was so enticing that all 1,175 packages quickly sold out, generating over $76,000 in revenue. That’s when people started noticing something fishy about Dana Dawes and her photography.

After hours of chatting with Dana in the discussion section [update: mirror here] of the deal, people started noticing and commenting that images from her portfolio were actually stolen. Here’s a back and forth between Dawes and a commenter named SP:

SP: Groupon, you are dealing with a thief here. This photographer does not own all the photos on her website.

I looked at her website and realized that as a pro myself, her lighting and conversions didn’t match up. I then took one of her images off her website and un-distorted it, and then placed it through a recognition software that brought up this – http://morgaineowensphotography.com/?p=924 — THIS is the owner of the photograph, not Dana Dawes. I would suggest you refund the money to all of these people because this person is using photos that aren’t hers to try to bring in clients. In other words, she’s a fake photographer.

Dana D.: SP.-Let me assure you that I am not a thief. Many of my pictures have been taken in other states as well as many that I took while studying in Europe this past Spring.

SP: Groupon – one major clue that the business is fraudulent is if they offer a deal like this, that cannot be physically fulfilled by a true professional photographer. I’ve seen these deals pop up countless times on groupon, and no one is verifying that these are legitimate businesses that can fulfill their promises. It is physically impossible for a pro photog full time to do 1,000 sessions in a year (and on location at that).

At this point, Dawes begins to remove the galleries and photographs from her website and Facebook page, but not before commenters had already taken screenshots of the pages and reported the fraud to Groupon.

Within hours Groupon refunded the 1,175 people who had ordered the deal and removed the deal from the site.

Dawes page soon began displaying the message,

Due to an error made by my Webmaster in developing and creating my site, Groupon will no longer be offering this promotion… If you would like to keep your appointments, I will be charging $50 for the exact same offer

Needless to say, this generated even more discussion on Groupon. If you have some time, the massive discussion thread [update: mirror here] over there is a pretty interesting read…

If you’re looking to start a photography business, this is probably the opposite of how you want to kick it off.


Update: It looks like Groupon deleted the entire discussion thread. Luckily, we saved a copy.


Thanks for the tip Maurice!


 
 
  • http://twitter.com/eugenephoto Eugene

    Ridiculous. How did she think she would accommodate potentially THOUSANDS of people that would jump at the offer (even if she posted her own photos)? Groupon for selling photo sessions makes no sense at all. However, selling prints this way may work…

  • Studio

    Wow. Just wow.

  • patrick

    Her/his account with her ISP provider appears to have been suspended.

  • patrick

    Oh… and he/she appears to be running a similar ad here:

    http://www.kudzu.com/m/Dana-Dawes-Photography-21599387/deals/

  • http://www.jaylena.com Jaylena Photography

    She just pulled her facebook page offline as well. I am just hoping she doesn’t resurface under a different studio name, as it is so easy to do these days.

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  • http://www.coreyann.com Corey

    When she pointed her sticky finger at her webmasters they deleted her site for fraudulent use. You can still see some of the stolen images by doing a google search for her name and looking at the images. There is also a flickr user that screencapped her site and posted it for everyone to see.

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  • Arjun

    Really liked the approach of ‘SP’ who blew the whistle here. Any idea which recognition software was used here?

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  • http://www.tanyashields.com Tanya Shields

    Tiny Eye ;)

  • RedLace

    Absolutely disgusting and incredible, the lengths that people go to swindle and cheat the public. I hope someone reports her to the district attorney wherever she lives, it is a crime of theft, misrepresentation, and fraud. Considering the amount of money she received initially from Groupon, It is grand theft. Indict her, try her, and throw away the keys when she is convicted.

  • http://www.easyscratchoffs.com Terra Eso

    Groupon needs to make sure these deals are legitimate by making each business provide -a business license from their state would be a great start.

  • Lanes17

    She is from Marietta, I live in ATL. How would one go about tipping off the DA?

  • http://www.jaylena.com Jaylena Photography

    Seems her site is back up, but this time it’s an iWeb “made on a Mac” site. Looks just as “professional” as she made her self out to be…. Not! :D

  • http://twitter.com/sublime29 amanda geggatt

    It’s pretty funny when Dana forgets to log out as Andre M. and answers a question regarding Tasha W, HA!

  • Leila Boujnane

    The image recognition application used is TinEye http://tineye.com You give it an image and it will tell you where that image has appeared on the web.

  • Tim

    this kid seriously did something wrong, but i don’t think she realized what she was doing as that wrong when she did it. everything i’m seeing and reading about this person screams local amateur kid without business or photography education getting way in over her head. i actually feel sorry for how the hordes descended upon her with the amount of vitriol that they did. i’m a photographer. i understand the anger. but seriously? the people she cribbed from got a lot more exposure than they would have otherwise from this ordeal. in the end, they win, she’s scarred for life. she should definitely pay for the crime, but going beyond justice to vengeance is cruel and without grace. i would have had a different opinion if she was a seasoned pro–i’ve seen a similar controversy online with a bay area photographer a couple months ago, and the guy definitely deserved what he got.

  • Tim

    this kid seriously did something wrong, but i don’t think she realized what she was doing as that wrong when she did it. everything i’m seeing and reading about this person screams local amateur kid without business or photography education getting way in over her head. i actually feel sorry for how the hordes descended upon her with the amount of vitriol that they did. i’m a photographer. i understand the anger. but seriously? the people she cribbed from got a lot more exposure than they would have otherwise from this ordeal. in the end, they win, she’s scarred for life. she should definitely pay for the crime, but going beyond justice to vengeance is cruel and without grace. i would have had a different opinion if she was a seasoned pro–i’ve seen a similar controversy online with a bay area photographer a couple months ago, and the guy definitely deserved what he got.

  • Janeen

    I agree. It appeared to be a mistake. One that will cost her in the long run. But the folks, who are slandering her and making a living off of it really need a life. I pray for grace and mercy for them if and when they make a mistake.

  • Amy S

    “Tim” and “Janeen”, fraud and theft of 70+ thousand dollars is a mistake? If you two are indeed two different people, then you are both morons. Your initials wouldn’t happen to be D.D., would they?

  • Shuteru

    Tineye

    - fixed

  • KrisH

    Looks like Dana is trying to get her friends to make “Good” comments on Yelp.com.. See link…
    http://www.yelp.com/biz/dana-dawes-photography-marietta

  • Amy S

    LOL “Teria K.” sounds an awful lot like our “Janeen”. What a f-ing scammer. I hope Janeen/Dana gets what she deserves.

  • http://www.tanyashields.com Tanya Shields

    Respectfully, as one of the people who had their work stolen, it was no “mistake”.

    I spoke on the phone with Dana Dawes.

    Another woman answered the phone, and handed it to Dana. I told Dana my name, and asked her if she recognized it. She said no, and I told her I was the photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia whose stolen work was displayed on her website…..and that I wanted to know how/why it was there.

    Her story now is this:

    She hired Andre Moore of Moore Marketing to develop a website for her. It was Andre Moore, she says, who used my photos as “placeholders” to show her what her site would look like. I asked her for his name and phone #.

    WHILE I STILL HAD HER ON THE PHONE…..I called the # she gave me. Sure enough, a man, who answered to Andre Moore (?!) took the call. He is taking the fall for all of it. Says Dana had nothing to do with it. Says he took my work as “placeholders” and found it by random.

    I called him out, told him I didn’t believe that for one second. I have a hard enough time getting LOCAL people to find my site, let alone someone in another country. I told him he was stealing, that he was in breach of international copyright law, and an unethical “businessman”.

    I also told him (and Dana) that I find it HIGHLY suspect that “Andre M” was the name of the person “defending” her on Groupon, pretending to be a client……who we all now know is pretty obviously one and the same person.

    I told them both that this was not finished, that their actions have consequences….and that they both severely underestimated the legitimate photography community.

    Groupon called me as well and apologized for being a part of the situation. All $80,000+ USD has been refunded, putting Groupon at a loss.

    The icing on the cake? Dana indicating to Groupon that SHE would be suing THEM.

    It’s almost laughable.

    Almost.

  • Amy S

    Janeen/Dana, cram your grace and mercy. I pray you get what you deserve.

  • Amy S

    Dana/Janeen/Andre/Teria (how many aliases does this idiot have?) are scum and anyone legitimately defending them/her (Tim?) is scum as well.

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  • Tara956

    And you know what? This drags photography even MORE in the mud…people who watched this unfold will probably be thinking twice about getting a photographer because they aren’t sure they’ll get what they paid for!
    Groupon, while a double edged sword, was also, if used right (ie low cap on sales) an AMAZING marketing tool…Who knows what measures they’ll bring into place affecting photographer offers. She disgusts me.

  • http://www.tanyashields.com Tanya Shields

    That’s the thing though…Groupon is an amazing marketing tool…..if you want clients who are looking for a cheap deal, and not that value your work.

    And honestly, I hope it DOES force people to be more selective/diligant when choosing a professional photographer!

  • Sylvain

    Dana Dawes has an impressive photography portfolio??? I just looked at it and the pictures SUCKED!!! Well, there might have been 5 or 6 that were good, but GOOD GRIEF, don’t call her portfolio impressive. And you all say she stole these pictures? Why did she steal all the bad pictures. Heck, I would have taken the best ones.
    I think it’s hilarious that 1200 people though she had a nice portfolio. But anyway, did this Dana Dawes at least perform the photo session? If so, then noone really got ripped off here. Not even the photographer’s who’s pictures were stolen because the pictures were lousy in the first place. I have personally deleted better pictures than that!!!!!
    Instead of photographer’s crying over this, they should copyright & watermark their pictures, see? Problem solved.

  • http://www.tanyashields.com Tanya Shields

    The photos you see now, are NOT the stolen photos.

  • ME

    huh…and she’s black…I’m just sayin’…

  • ME

    huh…and she’s black…I’m just sayin’…

  • Janeen

    Amy, you are saying she stole over $70k? I did not read that anywhere and not confirm or deny that statement is true. I also think it is pretty immature of you to call people out of their name (morons) because they have a difference of opinion. Wow…continue to have fun slandering people on the internet. And like I said, may God have mercy on you when you find yourself in a bad situation. And no my initials are not D.D.

  • http://twitter.com/c3ane Kezia Payne

    It’s evident that you and your team have done a great job. Frauds beware! People in creative fields shouldn’t have to deal with other so-called professionals ripping off their work. No respect or value for the process; the time taken and the sheer amount of hard work others have done in producing their works. If these frauds can’t hack it, go do something else. You are a fraud and soon enough your lack of talent and skills will come to light eventually.

  • Amy S

    And may god give you what you deserve when you find yourself in a bad situation that you created.

  • Tara956

    Sylvain, the HORRIBLE photos she has now are HERS….she deleted the GOOD ones….WHo on EARTH would have been CRAZY enough to book her based on her ACTUAL work?? That is PRECISELY why the uproar…

  • Tara956

    Also as for ‘crying over this’ and we should all watermark our work, I hope you don’t mind credit card fraud, if you do, use cash and cut up all your cards. Or have problems with murder, you should stay at home and never go out….Or hate traffic, just don’t ever drive….

  • Amy S

    Some people in this thread aren’t very bright and their names rhyme with Sylvian, Janeen, and Tim.

  • lisa

    She can blame some web developer if she wants but she also had those same stolen images up on Facebook and were ads in the Groupon. Her web designer would not be doing that as well.

    As for calling her a kids—her about me states she has a daughter and traveling to different countries. That is not some “kid” making an innocent mistake. She is facing legal action and it is well deserved. People are not slandering her at all—everything state is truth.

    The bottom line is that when you are a business owner you are 100% responsible for your business.

  • sb10

    she is not the innocent victim who simply made a mistake. When she got busted she continued to lie and had a total of 3 lies to try to explain her actions. Not once did she fess up and apologize which is what a mature person who made an honest mistake would do.

  • ME

    I bet I wouldn’t have a problem booking her now! whew! I thought, after that ad, I’d never get in! :D

  • Amanda

    OMG $70K!! I am not sure how Groupon works, but she did not get my money! Groupon said THEY would be refunding my money and I should get it within five or so business days. I also got a call from her company saying they are doing free sessions for those who bought off Groupon!

  • Foques

    Groupon is just a Photomill.. I don’t see why anyone would do business with them, if they are looking for quality work.

    I am very happy for Tanya and others who’s work was stolen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=547463261 Gina Parry

    This is EPIC !!

  • Bbrae302

    why in the world would a person with a half a brain think that that was a legitimate deal to begin with? She would have lost money hand over fist. it would have cost more in gas and prints than she was making. Shame on stupid people for falling for a stupid scam!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/funcrunch Julie Bernstein

    FYI, The CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason, has just commented on Groupon’s vetting policy in response to the Techcrunch writeup: http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/16/groupon-photography/

  • Star

    She also works for Cobb County Schools in the IT Department.

  • Amy S

    May god have mercy on your stupidity. Go away troll.