InfoWorld Writes on Scam Artist in 1984

One of our readers email in a link to this article found in the September 17, 1984 issue of InfoWorld. We’re not sure what to make of it…

Police Catch Scam Suspect [InfoWorld]

Update: Scott has responded with a post on PhotoFocus.

  • Jon Spanos

    Scott Bourne of Interesting!

  • MatthewDuclos

    Like, THE Scott Bourne? Who knew..?

  • Simon Hucko

    things that make you go “hmmmm”

  • Brian Adams

    not great at compairing faces but they kind of look a like…

  • Alexander

    You’re not sure of what to make of it or your lawyers told you not to say anything and just publish content which is already publicly available :) Fair enough I suppose.

  • Charles Mason

    Interesting. On the PhotoFocus Staff page ( it says that Bourne has been involved in photography for more than 3 decades, which is even earlier than this InfoWorld article was published…

  • White Hot Phoenix

    Hmmm I wonder what other intellectual property he’s claiming as his own that isn’t his.

  • The Bourne Reality

    Also a fascinating read: the bankruptcy petition in Case No. 03-41349, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington, In re: Alfred Scott Bourne fdba Earth Portraits Galleries fdba Scott Bourne Companies dab Weddings West; and Jana Lee Bourne. Filed 2/8/2003; Discharged 5/20/2003.

    Can’t wait to buy his forthcoming book about how to succeed as a professional photographer.

  • Anonymous

    Oooh that’s him alright. For what it’s worth, the last time I checked the guy wasn’t running for office and even in politics we’ve seen people who’ve done a lot worse and have gotten a lot further. I think Randy Nelson put it best when he said:

    “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.”

  • Dylan Malone

    People can change a lot in the course of nearly 3 decades, but that is a surprising article. Is this why he’s never on MacBreak Weekly anymore? He was a pretty engaging personality in podcast form…  All this said, I’m inclined to forgive and forget.  People are too unforgiving these days, and memories are very, very long in the age of the Internet.

  • Mike Cavaroc

    I agree with Dylan.  Probably is him, but I’m sure it’s not something he’s proud of, or especially would want to haunt him.  I’m sure he’s tried to put it behind him, considering this had to be dug up from somewhere.

  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    Borne identities

  • Trudy

    Exactly. People forgive based on who they like, not the severity of crime. This is why athlete rapists, politicians and celebs are easily forgiven, not photographers who challenge other photographers to stop BS-ing around and improve work. The formers are entertainers, the latter is an educator. In a culture of entertainment and fame worship, anything goes for a star. Not so much for a person who made mistakes decades ago and appears to try to have improve and changed and helps photographers.

  • Guest

    From Scotts twitter, no idea if its a reaction to this

    “Just want to say thanks to all my supporters. While the haters will always hate, I love helping everyone else & the friends I’ve made here.”

  • The Bourne Reality

    The “friends” are, of course, comprised substantially of people that want to win cameras in his sponsored contests (the winner picked by his “proprietary” software). Everything he does, everything he says, smells funny.  I find it difficult to believe he’s moved on too far. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been listening to Scott Bourne since he and Alex Lindsay started the This Week in Photography podcast (around 2008). I was shocked to read this article, but when I did I remembered that he said that he has done things that he is not proud of in his past. I thought to myself ‘so, don’t we all.’ But I had no idea it would be something like this.
    Like him or not, Scott Bourne has done a lot for the photography industry and I personally have learned a lot from listening to his podcasts and reading his blog. As far as I’m concerned he has paid his dues and we should all just get on with it.

  • Anonymous

    No doubt that if this goes viral it will influence the perception of some in the community, specially if he does not handle the issue properly. But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s not the only leader/educator/role model I know who’s f’ked up. I’ve got a couple of skeletons in my closet myself and even though it would kind of blow if they came back to haunt me when I least expected it, the only thing I could do if they did was to own up to them and move on. To Dylan’s point, all this happened before a lot of his followers were even born. So long as he’s learned from what he did, I am also inclined to forgive and forget. He has paid society for his mistakes and has found a way to influence a community he’s passionate about. That’s a lot more than most ex-convicts can brag about.  I may not agree with everything he preaches, his methods or even like his pictures, but to see that he’s got as far as he has from so far behind commands some respect.

  • Huggs

    He is such a smarmy jerk that I swore off TWIP until he left.
    This doesn’t surprise me at all.
    He finally fessed up –

    I wonder how this will effect his business. Convicted felon!
    If you attend one of his seminars, keep an eye on your camera gear…… (c8

  • Guest

    Has anyone confirmed that the “winners” of his free cameras are real people rather than fake Twitter accounts?  Also, didn’t he say on Macbreak Weekly he’d been an Army Ranger?  Curious he lied about military service back then.  Make me doubt his more recent claims.

  • The Bourne Reality

    Several times in his Photofocus podcast (particularly episodes 13 and 21) he has made reference to all his copyright registrations (“we have drawers of them!”) and successfully litigated infringement suits (“every time we walk into court with [a registration certificate] we walk out with a check”).

    A search of the Copyright Office public database ( reveals, however, that he has only one completed registration.  As for litigation, a search of federal court dockets revealed only one case — the bankruptcy mentioned previously — connected with his name.

    He is, it would appear, still largely full of shit.

  • Anshel Sag

    This is quite a revelation, I totally thought I was assuming something too.

  • Anshel Sag

    Can I get a HOLY CRAP?!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a fan of his, his style really turns me off, but that doesn’t mean he’s still a criminal.  

    The article in question is 27 years old, I don’t know how many people are the same as they were 27 years ago, maybe a lot of readers aren’t even that old.  I was pretty surprised by this article though, I had no idea he had lived such a life.  Given his prolific blogging, seminars and podcasting, I’m surprised that it took this long to come up.

  • Rick Keir

    Seriously, who is small minded enough to care?

  • Charles Mason

    Well, it’s certainly relevant for the hundreds or thousands of people who participate in his regular DSLR giveaways…

  • Guest

    There’s at least one other case.  Something about being denied constitutional rights as an inmate because his checking account didn’t bear interest:

  • Troll

    I won’t say people can’t change, but I find his “everyone is a troll” attitude off putting. Also I question his contest styles; the fact that he excludes people for personal reasons seems childish and legally questionable. But this will make me question further any claims he makes.

  • On the Run

    Will something come to light on why he left Washington?

  • Mike

    I can’t confirm the winners of his DSLR contests, but I can confirm 1 winner of a different contest he had a few years ago.  I was the winner of one of his Mother’s Day Scan Cafe contests.  I was able to get hundreds of slides and negatives scanned for free thanks to his contest.

    I have also heard him mention his army days.  If you follow his blog, I’m sure he will have a post about it this weekend as he has for the last couple of years on Memorial Day.

    From last year:

    From 2 years ago:

  • Mike

    First I had heard of this.  I’m all for letting people improve them selves and starting over.  This past doesn’t bother me on its own.

    However; I have been less interested in following his work in the last six months because I have felt like he has become very focused on a single way of looking at things and appears to be intolerant of diverging views.

    I too had written a supportive comment on a blog that he guest writes on and was chastised for missing the point, when I specifically referenced a posting by his colleague on the same blog making the relevant point.

    Why not have comments open your blog?  Blog’s are supposed to be for conversation.  I’m sure he has his reasons.

    He was helpful when I asked a question on Twitter before.

    I respect that he has made him self a success in his career and channeled his skills and interests into a productive career rather than re-making past mistakes.

    I wish him continued success, but I no longer am following him because I feel like he has become more focused on his business ventures and his interests more than the community outreach he had previously been doing.

    The article references him starting a “…computer users group for which he collected an unknown sum in membership fees….”  That puts a little too fine of a point on what has been making me uncomfortable about his recent efforts.

  • Guest

    Can anyone confirm his military service?  I recall refusing to listen to Bourne any more after one particular Macbreak Weekly.  Leo was going on a geek cruise in China.  Some geopolitical event had happened that I can’t recall.  Bourne was going on about how he had friends who would be able to extract Leo if anything happened to him in China.  It was so ridiculous that I got a very strong feeling he was lying and had never been in the military.  Now, we see lying about a military past is his m.o.  Does the Army take felons?  If not why doesn’t the article mention he had been in the Army before his “mistakes” in his non-felon years?

    By the way… that article lists a whole lot of “mistakes.”  Sounds like maybe some of it was very much on purpose.

  • Mike

    I wonder how his sponsors/business partners are going to react to this…

  • The Bourne Reality

    Ahh yes, fair point.  I had forgotten about that one — doesn’t appear to have gone very far on remand to the district court.  It is another case nonetheless.  Thanks for the correction.

  • The Bourne Reality

    The “users group for which he collected an unknown sum in membership fees” sounded to me suspiciously similar to what Mr. Bourne has been doing lately with Skip Cohen with their new “association” PWSPI.  Don’t know how many members they garnered, but the whole thing happened so quickly, and without any real membership benefits ever materializing, that it sounded an awful lot like just another con.

  • The Bourne Reality

    He is also very touchy when anyone asks him about the mechanism by which he selects the winners, claiming it’s “proprietary.”  My guess is that it’s as proprietary as his light pen.

  • Nick Nieto

    Hey – I won one.  It was crazy and a complete shock.  I met him once before at a photo walk he was at – there is no way he would have remembered me from that we talked for like 30 seconds.  The only other connection I have with him is he has answered a couple of my emailed questions on his podcast.  I can vouch his contests actually go to real people.

  • Who is Mr Bourne?

    Not to be a nitpicker here but that math doesn’t add up.  The post from 2 years ago (2009) said he lost his friends 27 years ago.  So 2009-27=1981.  Vietnam was over in 1975 with the fall of Saigon.  

    He also mentions he sold his first photo of an Indy 500 accident in 1975 when he was 21 (see #8):

    So, at best he was 18 and could get drafted in 1972.  In that same post he mentions playing football from grade school until he left college.  Either he served well below the typical two tours with a break that most army folks did in Vietnam (which is possible, he may have been injured or something) and was drafted/enlisted freshmen/sophomore year or his story is just plain fishy.  

    Basically to me the math doesn’t add up.  Something seems very fishy about his old army buddies story.  

  • Photocrasher

    How does participating in his contest make it relevant in any way?  You don’t have to pay to enter, you don’t have to pay to get the item if you win.  And even if it did somehow make it relevant, couldn’t you just NOT ENTER?

  • Paul

    So typical of Scott Bourne and now Skip Cohen, Scott, the ex-convict, is now the victim of an “online campaign aimed at disrupting his business and his work”. Scott is again a victim like he often claims on his own blog. This is an insult to the real victims of Scotts past criminal behaviors from whom he stole and defrauded. How is Scott the victim of some real and legitimate news about his criminal past?

    Skip unfortunately is drinking Scotts Kool-Aid and of course has to come to his defense as he is embroiled in business with Scott.

    Skip, do a cursory check on Scotts background and claims, both old and recent, including that he is now shooting b-roll for a TV show, the prints he has sold, the client list he has, that he is a veteran, that he has thousands of registered copyrights, that he has the degrees he claims, the “original” music he claims to have authored, the Lamborghini, the Ferraris, the houses all over the US he claims to own, the REAL download numbers of the podcast, etc. and you will quickly find out the REAL Scott Bourne. He is not much more than a figment of his own imagination. Scott the lies are mounting and lies have a funny thing of catching up with you.

    There is a saying: “Where there is smoke, there is fire”

    How many decent, honest and nice people, even popular and famous ones (like Leo Laporte or Alex Lindsey) have detractors and enemies mounting an “online campaign aimed at disrupting his business and his work”? The reason people are doing this is because Scott has made many many enemies in the past. He has left a trail of bodies behind him… You can simply do searches online but here are a couple just to get you started:

    Scott is a coward who hides behind Direct Messages on Twitter to blast anyone who dares question him. This is the ONLY reason he does not accept posts on his blog Photofocus like every other blog on the planet; because he will be found out very quickly.

    Also check out the user comments on his Photofocus podcast listing on iTunes:

    Oh wait, there are two listings on iTunes….

    Maybe he is trying to run away from the bad comments which where the top ones on iTunes by creating a new listing and starting from scratch… too bad someone had already seen thru that it seems based on the first comment on the new podcast feed. I also wonder why the podcasts are listed in the Gadget & Podcasting categories instead of the Visual arts category like EVERY other photo podcast on the planet…. maybe because he did not want to have a direct comparison with the other photo podcasts, which would show the real popularity of the podcast….

    I would love to hear the REAL reason he went his own way and left TWIP, Alex Lindsey and Leo Laporte to start his own podcast.

    Those that claim Scott is altruistic and gives advice away, don’t be fooled, he only does this to build up his own celebrity, same with the camera give-aways, he talks other people into ponying up the $$ for the cameras and then HE gives them away claiming a few thousand more twitter sheep in the process. And then some even question if he has even given away those cameras to real people… That’s a good question as he seems to be a pathological liar…

    As to those who say, “this was all in the past” I will tell you, I know people who have been screwed and bamboozled by Scott Bourne, VERY RECENTLY. Now some are questioning the “membership” fees collected by the organization he and Skip started, PWSPI. It almost sounds like a con. Not saying that it is since I know little about it, but I would VERY suspicious.

    Buyer beware…..

  • Patrick Ahles

    Another one of his ramblings:

    I provided some answer on a blog that referred to it (since you conveniently can’t comment on his blog):
    He has so much followers, one of the beleivers pointed him towards it, and he cared to answer (why he did we’ll never know). Precisely the kind of answer everyone gets: you are wrong, I am right! This is how Scott Bourne operates. All the time!

  • Huggs

    Too bad that the STOLEN VALOR ACT was neutered……

    He might yet end up back in the Pokey! I think I’m going to write his advertisers.

  • Soucib

    Whatever you want to say about the man, you gotta give him props for that sweet hat… Now that’s a con artist with style!!!

  • Richard Ford

    Not on MBW anymore?  I stopped listening to that BECAUSE of him years ago.  That and the way he was a hypocrite about technology – that he know little about outside of the consumer end – when trying to defend a product from discourse because it was an advertiser on his web site.  :-S  Time to go add a podcast back in!

  • Pingback: A Fanboy’s Farewell to Scott Bourne | The Daily Puffin()

  • Skelby

    I feel so used now for following him. I had definitely noticed the increase in the haters defense on the blog and wondered how he could be the receiver of so much hatred. It all makes sense now and I feel only slightly better unsubscribing today. I hope his new scams come to light and his sponsers wake up.

  • The Bourne Reality

    So his latest thing is that people keep asking him for the EXIF data on the photos that he posts. Fair enough — it’s pretty common for photography instructors to do that.  After all, they’re all about sharing knowledge, right?  Well Scott says he can’t post it because people might try to recreate the shots and fail (due to lighting conditions, etc), and then — god forbid — they’ll get mad at him.

    Well if getting mad at Scott Bourne were enough to shut Scott Bourne up, then he’d be gone by now, but alas, he’s still there, spewing his bullshit.

    Anyone else think the real reason he doesn’t disclose his EXIF data is because most of his images, to the extent they’re actually shot by him, are shot with cameras far less impressive than the ones he purports to own?

  • JustMax

    hardly, most of these gurus are just idiots that paraphrase self help mish mash from the 80’s

  • Bourne Unidentity

    Or were not shot when and where he said ….Personally, I think it is probably just “job protection”

  • Bourne Unidentity

    Firstly, I’m not saying he is not a good photographer, I think it is more a case of his experience being exaggerated.

    Very funny how a person who was a crim himself have no tolerance of crime ….
      If you dig around a bit you’ll find:1. He published his first few books through his sister’s publishing company in 2004.2. in 2006 it was claimed the “Bourne Media Group” have more than 10 years experience in Podcasting by Scott Bourne on his website This is align to him starting the NetRadio business somewhere between 1994 and 1996.3. also, in 2006, in a press release from Pandango Software:”Scott Bourne is an internet and podcasting pioneer. In 1994, he founded NetRadio- the first internet-only network of radio stations. He also founded First-TV, the world’s first Internet-only television network. Scott has been featured in more than 200 national and international publications including Wired Magazine, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Internet World Magazine, Information Age, Forbes, and Radio & Production. He blogs at, is known as the PodcastGearGuy, is the producer of the popular iLife Zone Podcast, and co-hosts MacBreakWeekly with Leo Laporte, Alex Lindsay and Merlin Mann.”4. In the eighties he spend his life as a crim on the run. (besides the articles mentioned before he is also mentioned in Jan ’83 St Joseph News – though his aged is mentioned as 27, might be another guy with the same name, but the MO sounds the same). In Sept ’80 he (or the other Alfred Scott Bourne)  made comments to a tribunal on how the state prison riots in July the same year were caused by a lack of training for the guards. He also tried to sue the government for not paying him interest on his money while in jail and another complaint about not having 24 hr medical services in prison.5. In ’75 he took the (his) famous Tom Sneva photo, that was published front-page across the country as a teenager with a camera from his girlfriends dad (I could not find any evidence to this). Finished school, completed political science major and for six years were a professional motor sport photographer with AP. He also travelled the world as photographer. He also claimed elsewhere he was 21 when he took that photo and he was there with a press-pass organised by his brother-in-law.6. Somewhere in that busy life in the seventies (while at school it would seem) he also went to Vietnam.7. He also did some music work – if the copyright registration is anything to go by.add the time he would have needed to learn the skills and build the NetRadio business … indeed, he must have been a very busy manInteresting article here Here he goes on about the full digital thing, while I recall he him mentioning before how is against people popping wedding photos on CD. Back then it was part of his sales pitch!!Was he maybe more a part-time photographer in his earlier career… like those $500 wedding photographers?I’m also curious to hear exactly what the rewards is he won as an “award winning” photographer. He claims “Shorty” award, but that one was for “Kyle Reese, @Twipphoto” according to Wikipedia.

  • Jeremy Miller

    Mr. Bourne claims to have grauated from Indiana University and to have also played football while attending.  Inquiries to the University indicate there is record of neither.