Anatomy of a Email Art Scam

If you have a website for your art, you’ve likely received an email that looks a lot like this:

Hello There,

My name is Pamela Mcallister from Georgia. I actually observed my husband has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess he likes your piece of work. I’m also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too, You are doing a great job. I would like to purchase ”CAROLEE CLARK – “DARK TREES” Regular price $4,000.00 ”. as a surprise to my husband on our anniversary. Also, let me know if you accept CHECK as mode of Payment.

Thanks and best regards

Pamela Mcallister

Over the years we’ve received hundreds of these emails in our gallery inbox. Each varies, but the gist is the same: an interested buyer is contacting you to make an inquiry about purchasing an artwork from your website. The prospect is exciting – this is the whole reason we spend so much time, effort and money creating a site in the first place – but something seems a little off about the email. The writing is not only stilted and the grammar odd, the email also includes extraneous details.

By now most of you likely already recognize this kind of email as a likely scam, and I’ve explored this kind of scam in previous posts and podcasts. I feel like it’s a good idea, however, to bring this topic up from time to time to make sure that anyone who hasn’t been exposed to the scam before is aware and prepared to respond when one of these emails shows up in their inbox.

The email above appeared in my inbox several weeks ago, and just as I was about to delete it, I decided that I would instead reply to see if the scam has changed since the last time I engaged with a similar emailer about 7 years ago (spoiler alert: it hasn’t, much).

My first reply was simple.

Thank you for your email. We would be happy to help you acquire “Dark Trees” – it will make a great anniversary gift!

We do accept payment by check. If you can let me know where we will be shipping the painting, I will be happy to provide a total with the shipping cost included.

This is basically how I would reply to any inquiry that came through the website. I try to be courteous and to the point.

Just a few minutes later, I received a reply

Thanks for your response,I must tell you I intend to give my husband a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece. Also If you’d like to know, I’m relocating to Canada soon and our wedding anniversary is fast approaching. So I’m trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise one. I am buying the piece as part of gifts to him (quickly before someone else grabs it). If we agree on a reasonable price,I will authorize a CHECK to you for the payment.

As regarding shipping, you don’t have to worry about that in order not to leave any clue to my husband for the surprise.My shipping agent (who is also moving my Truck and my Properties) will contact you to arrange for the pick-up of the piece (this is to avoid my husband receiving it,if been shipped directly to my address would ruin the surprise for this event). You both have to sign a proof of pick up at the most. So as soon as you receive the CHECK and it clears in your bank, my shipping agent will get intouch..

As regarding payment, I would like to inform you, that my husband handles the family credit card/bank and PayPal transaction. So i would authorize a CHECK to you for the payment.I would have handled this much differently if I’d been at home but at the moment, am on training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean, with new hires who are fresh from graduate school and won’t be back for another couple of weeks.

Regards,

Pamela Mcallister.

PS: In the meantime, kindly get back to me with your FULL NAME as you want it to appear on the CHECK, ADDRESS (PHYSICAL ADDRESS PLS..FedEx does not deliever to P.O.BOX ) where you want the CHECK delivered by courier service including your ZIPCODE and PHONE NUMBER, so the CHECK can be sent right away.

Right away, an experienced seller of art will hear alarm bells. Having spent over 25 years in the art business, I can tell you that I have never received an email like this from a legitimate client. Here are the clues:

  1. The language is odd, like it’s come out of Google’s translation service. “I must tell you I intend to give my husband a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece”??? “if been shipped directly to my address would ruin the surprise for this event”??? “Pamela” hasn’t indicated that “she” is not a native English speaker, but these constructs are highly unusual, to say the least. It’s certainly possible to sell art to art buyers outside the U.S., we do it all the time, but I can tell you that they usually compose English better than native speakers. This clue in and of itself is not a dead give-away, but it should be a warning.
  2. A serious buyer won’t spin a long, detailed story about why the artwork needs to be purchased right away. I guess these scammers think that the more detail they provide, the more authentic their inquiry will seem. I’ve never had a client send me an email this long about a purchase.
  3. The story gets even more elaborate. Not only is this a surprise gift, which means the “client” can’t use a credit card (notice that I never bothered to ask for a credit card, but “she” goes to the trouble of explaining why “she” can’t use a credit card or PayPal), but “she” is also on a training voyage in the “North Atlantic Ocean.” Wow, what kind of exotic job does “Pamela” have!?
  4. She’s going to take care of the shipping details with her own company. This is a dead giveaway that this is a scam, and is at the heart of the fraudulent effort. More on this later.

Excellent Pamela! I will be happy to make arrangements with your shipper.

You may make the check for $4,000 and send it to:
Xanadu Gallery
7039 E Main St. #101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
I will have the artwork ready for shipment as soon as we receive the check.
Please let me know if you need any additional information.

Jason

Simple instructions. The response:

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your response,i will proceed to instruct your Payment at the earliest,i hope to visit your studio with my husband in the nearest future after our anniversary. In order not to leave any clue to my husband for the surprise, I’ve contacted my Boss to issue out the check and have it sent to you.

I would have handled this much differently if i would be at home but I’m a bit pressed for time myself. I’m moving to Canada by next month end…

As it is, I’m sending you an OVER PAYMENT which will include my shippers fees as well.He has asked for an upfront before coming and since I have no access to a lot of cash, I’m trying to kill two birds with a stone. So, once you’ve received and cashed the check, deduct your funds and PLEASE help me send the remaining funds to the(shipper). I’ll forward his contact details to you once you’ve received the payment.

Now I’m concluding you’re a responsible person and I can therefore entrust you with this arrangement.I’ll let you know Immediately the check has been sent to you, so you should be looking out for it.

Many thanks and talk to you soon,

Pamela

and then

KIndly include your mobile number so you can be informed once your Check Payment is in transit

Pamela

There was no way I was going to provide my mobile number, so I just ignored the request and replied:

That will work just fine. I will email you once we have received the check. Please let me know if I may be of further assistance with this process.

Jason

I also ignored the final proof that this is definitely a scam, the announcement that “Pamela” is going to send me an “OVER PAYMENT.” This is how they get ya. By sending an overpayment, the scammer can then request that you send a money order or wire transfer for the overage.

It was about 10 days before the promised check finally appeared, which was another oddity considering what a big deal “Pamela” had made about overnighting the check via courier.

I have to admit that even though I was anticipating the check and knew that it would be fraudulent, my heart still skipped a beat when I opened the envelope. There is something primal about having a check for $9,000.09 in your hands. I wanted to believe, and this is what the scammer is counting on.

This particular scam attempt was quite audacious – the scammer was trying to take me for $5,000!

To add to the ridiculous nature of this attempted scam, the next day we received an exact duplicate of the check and the envelope.

“Pamela” is a real amature to have allowed this to happen. The checks both have the same check number, date, and signature, and the envelopes both use the same tracking number. I would hope that anyone receiving these duplicate checks would realize that something wasn’t right and call the whole deal off. I wanted to see how things would unfold, however, and so kept our conversation going.

Good Morning Jason,

How are you doing and I hope you are in the right frames of mind, reports reaching me has it that the check in the amount of $9,000.09 USD from PNC with check# xxxxxx4029, account # xxxxxxx9314 shall be delivered to you via USPS courier delivery today at the earliest or tomorrow at the latest for payment of the piece as well as funds for shipping and handling as earlier discussed.

Please let me know as soon you are in receipt of the check and proceed to have it deposited at your bank for it to process. Additional information on shipping arrangements shall be furnished as soon the check is deposited and cleared.

Best Regards.

Pamela.

“I hope you are in the right frames of mind”???

I was out of town when this email came in, and didn’t see it for a full 24 hours, so there was a second email in my inbox.

Good Morning Jason,

Sequel to the delivery and receipt of the check for the piece which was inclusive of funds to arrange shipping and handling arrangements, I have NOT read from you since you have received the check and it’s the second day of a new week now please let me know the current status of the check if deposited or cashed so further arrangements on the pick up can be ensued.

However if I do not hear from you soonest by noon, I shall not hesitate to contact the authorities as it’s a financial crime to be in possession of our company check for the piece and NOT responding by keeping mute. A legal action shall be instituted against you but I will wait to hear from you with head ups.

Pamela.

My, that escalated quickly! I couldn’t help chuckling a little as I responded.

Hello Pamela, thank you for the email and I hope that you are in the right frame of mind as well.

We received your check yesterday, but unfortunately it was made out for way too much for the transaction. The total due for the artwork was $4,000, and the check provided was for $9,000.09, over $5,000 in excess of the amount due. Please provide a return address for the check and I will send it back so a check can be issued in the correct amount.

Thank you.

Jason

Hi Jason,

This is really unfair and you know I had no other plan for the anniversary gift except this piece. Prior before now,I stated clearly in my previous messages before proceeding with Payment that this purchase is meant to be an anniversary surprise for my husband ,couple with our relocation process which is been handled by the shipper.Also payment instruction thus come in one check (because my boss is only available to instruct payment on one Check ) which includes my Shippers fees for the pickup and other errands.I trusted you before entrusting this to you and you gave instruction that I should proceed with the payment?Now the payment has been delivered to you,do not put me to shame .I’m concluding you’re a responsible person and I can therefore entrust you with this arrangement.Keep me informed once your Check has been deposited for Process.

Sincerely,

Pamela

$5,000 is a ridiculous amount for shipping and other incidentals. We would be happy to help facilitate this purchase, but we cannot forward $5,000. If you cannot send another check, we would be happy to accept a credit card payment.

Thank you.

Jason

Hi Pamela – I’ve been trying to figure out how to make this work. How would we be paying your shipping company, and what is the amount? Maybe we could refund you part of the check directly.

If that’s not desirable, just let me know and I will send the check back to you.

Jason

At this point we had exchanged over a dozen emails, and I was tiring of the ruse, but I decided to let the drama continue to unfold to see how “Pamela” would respond and try to salvage the scam attempt.

Thanks for getting back to me, is there a way you can help me purchase 3 pieces of $1,000 USPS postal Money Orders totaling $3,000USD then overnight it today to my associate. Her name is Susan Anne Smith and her address is p o box 486 interlachen fl 32148. You can leave it blank so she can write her name on them when she gets it tomorrow. However I will notify you with the shipper information and how much to send to him as soon this is done today.

All you need do is go to any USPS post office near you with cash of $3,000 and purchase the postal money orders. Please include both the customer copies in it and have it shipped next day to her then get back to me with the tracking number. I will be waiting to read from you as soon this is completed today. Thanks

Pamela

That will not be possible – your check has not been deposited and would need to clear first. This all seems to be getting fishy – how can you assure me that this is not a scam?

Jason

The check was received yesterday and the instruction was to have it deposited for it to process so the funds can be available for use but for some reasons you have not deposited the payment till now delaying and dragging this transaction.

You asked me to give you instruction on how to send funds which was what I just did and now you are talking about scam when you have all my budget in full sum with you and holding it for nothing. Kindly have the check deposited today and when it clears you can have the postal orders sent.

Thanks

Pamela

Well, that settles it, I better comply since I have the “budget in full sum”!

Hi Pamela,

We did not deposit the check because the amount was at such discrepancy from the amount due. If we send $3,000, that still leaves $2,000 above the cost of the art. We cannot send money orders, only a check.

Jason

But you were aware that all the funds budget to spend is coming to you at the time I contacted you and I was clear that the funds would be sent to my shipper which you agreed. Now that you have the check in hand you did not deposit it and trying to tell me how to use my money. I think I may have to cancel this purchase as you are giving me headaches already while I trusted you from the beginning even when I had the chance to stop the check I allowed it. Let me know if you will deposit the check today and I will look for a way to get it back from you. Thanks

Pamela

Now I’m afraid I told a lie myself. I consider this fighting fire with fire, or perhaps two wrongs making a right?

Hi Pamela,

Per your instructions I have now deposited the check with our bank. They let me know that the funds will be available on Thursday. I hope you will not cancel the order of this beautiful work of art. We can figure out how to get the balance of the funds to your shipper on Friday. Can I send a check? I would prefer just to send the full $5,000.09 all at once to make things easier for you. Let me know who to make the check out to and where you would like it sent.

Jason

I had not deposited the check, and had no intention of doing so, but again, I wanted to see how it would play it if I hadn’t been aware of the scam and had in fact made the deposit.

Good Morning Jason,
How are you doing today and thanks for keeping me posted about the deposit of the check at your bank, please get back to me with a copy of the deposit slip as proof of deposit as well as proof that I have paid you.

I shall be waiting to hear from you, you can block out or shade off your account information before sending me a photo of the deposit slip as it’s needed for my official archive.

Best Regards
Pamela

Ah good, we’re back on civil terms. I couldn’t send the deposit slip as none was created, but this didn’t stop me from moving the ruse forward.

Hi Pamela – thank you for your email and patiences. I have been out doing a delivery and have not had a chance to respond to your email. The good news is that the check seems to have cleared overnight and the funds are available today, a day early. How would you like to proceed getting the artwork to you?

Jason

Thanks for the update, today please have the sum of $4,900 transferred by wire to the shipper associate where I want the funds to be sent to by means of wire transfer. Find below the information you need to send the $4,900 to :

Bank name: FIRST FINANCIAL BANK
Account name: OXXXXO AUTOMOTIVE LLC
ACCOUNT N0: 5312322158
ROUTINE N0: 042200910
IBAN: 5312322158
ADDRESS: 9XXX XXXXX XXX AVON IN 46123
swifts code: FFBCUS3C

As soon you complete the transfer by wire, kindly get back to me with a photo of the transfer receipt for my official archive.

Note: you are to use the remaining $100 as transfer charges for instant transfer service.

Best Regards.
Pamela

I suspect that the account number aren’t really assigned to the company “she” listed, or, if they are, I would imagine the company is fictitious. If I had followed “Pamela’s” instructions, I would now be out $5,000, and the check I had deposited would have come back as unpayable several days later. I would be left with zero recourse, as “Pamela” would have now completely disappeared.

Time to reveal the arrival of the second check to see how “Pamela” would respond.

Hello Pamela,

My associate just made me aware that something very suspicious has happened. Yesterday we received a second Priority Mail Express delivery that contained an exact duplicate of the check your boss sent us. It even has the same check number! I am very concerned for your boss’ security! It seems that his account may have been compromised.

I was just getting ready to send you the wire transfer in the amount of $4,900, but for your security, I think we better wait until you can make sure your accounts are secure. I am afraid someone is copying your company checks for nefarious purposes. They may have invaded your wire transfer account as well, and the money I wire you might be stolen when I make the transfer. I will keep the money safely in my account until you can assure that the account is secure.

Thanks for your concerns Jason, the matter of security is of high concern and if you notice the check number are the same and I had been made aware about this from my boss I was just going to make sure the second check gets to you and you inform me just to be sure you are truthful and sincere. The second check was sent in error by the accounts department due to USPS courier delivery error so trash the second check as funds are already released on the first one so you can complete the wire transfer.

I can confirm and assure you everything is fine from my end because I was already aware you were going to get a second check but was waiting if you would be truthful enough to let me know. Thanks so much that you are the best. Go ahead and complete the transfer and get back to me.

Thank You so much you are simply the best!
Pamela

I am grateful for your truthfulness and reliability Pamela, I’ve not worked with a customer that has the same level of honesty and integrity that you do. I will continue to prepare the wire transfer of funds, but I need a letter from your boss on the company letterhead that will assure me that the check we deposited was authentic and real, and that the funds have been authorized. Once I have that letter from your boss, then I will immediately and right away send the wire transfer to your authorized account for your immediate dispersal.

Thank you Pamela, you are outstanding.

Jason

I couldn’t resist employing some of the same kinds of linguistic flourishes that “Pamela” was using so effectively.

Please don’t do this to me Jason, you should understand it’s close of business at this time and such letter is the easiest to get from him, if you notice the check with same check number and same tracking number was delivered and cleared which means the one delivered is NOT a compromised one.

I understand your concerns as my associate need the wire transfer completed today. Am sure you wouldn’t want me to cancel this entire purchase and have the funds reversed as I have given you adequate quotes and assurance everything is fine. If it was a different check number it means something is compromised but it was same check number with adequate same information. You are smarter to understand this could be an error since it was both sent to you. Adhere with one and trash the other.

Thanks
Pamela

Hi Pamela,

Please don’t cancel the order after we have come so far working together. I am sure that we can figure this out. My bank will accept as security against the transaction and to allow me to complete the wire transfer for $4,900 if you can send me the letter from your boss on letterhead, or if you can send me a snapshot of your identification card or driver’s license that matches the account showing your full name as Pamela Mcallister. If I have that proper and correct identification then I can send the wire transfer right away. I await your reply.

Jason

Jason,
You should understand am in training and have limited access to scanning facilities I would have canceled this transaction as I found a similar surprise gift suitable for my surprise to my husband yesterday. My text messages and email correspondence with you is enough confirmation but if the wire transfer to the associate shipper is not achieved today I may have to find a gift elsewhere as this is giving me headaches already. I wonder why a purchase is this difficult.

Thanks
Pamela

My scammer is counting on my desperation to keep the sale and hopes that the threat of cancelling the sale will prod me into action.

Hi Pamela,

I’m sorry this has been such a challenge. I wouldn’t have expected it to be, but the two checks have raised concerns with the bank. I would like to get this transaction completed for you to make the art the perfect gift for your anniversary. You can snap a photo with your mobile phone of your ID, which I am certain that you would always have with you for security and identification.

As soon as I have the photo of your identification, we will immediately send the wire transfer to the account you indicated. I have the $4,900 ready to transfer. It is a small request to confirm your identification and it is not difficult to complete.

Jason

Here is my SSN and I hope this helps
Pamela McAllister SSN: 25xxxx65 [I’ve masked the number, assuming that it’s an appropriation of a real SS#] please don’t ask for further identification because I just released my social security number to you now. I don’t have access to scanning facilities. I hope to read from you with a photo of the wire transfer confirmation receipt in your next email.

Thank You.
Pamela

My bank requires me to have a photo of your ID with your photograph on it. You can use your mobile phone and send a photo to me very easily. Please don’t delay, I only have 19 minutes before my bank closes to send you the wire transfer for $4,900 today.

Jason

I have done all I could to ensure this work ,at this point,i will have to cancel this transaction.Do not bother with the purchase any more.

Pamela

I do not want to lose your business or the sale. I will call my bank right now to send the transfer. I will tell them that they need to process the wire transfer for $4,900, even though we can’t send them the ID tonight. Your shipper should be able to see the wire transfer effective within the next sixty minutes.

Thank you for your patience, and I apologize that this has been so difficult.

Jason

I have great news! The wire transfer has been completed. My banker, Virginia Williams of Wells Fargo bank emailed me to let me know that the wire transfer is complete.

The bank was closing when the wire was sent, so I will have the full confirmation in the morning, but I can confirm that $4,900 was deducted from my account via wire transfer.

Please have your shipper contact me at his earliest convenience to confirm the receipt of the funds and to make arrangement for the artwork to be picked up.

Thank you Pamela.

Jason

Of course, I never had any intention of sending the transfer, but I hoped to see “Pamela” stay with me just a little longer. Any of “her” time that I wasted was time that “she” couldn’t spend trying to scam someone else.

Thanks for the good news, you can log into your account and get me the receipt from account summary as it is needed to contact the shipper for confirmation of funds. You can also send me a copy of the email from your bank.

Thanks
Pamela

Hi Pamela, I’m afraid we ran into another hitch. The manager of the bank was concerned about the check because I had told her about the duplicate check. She has put the wire transfer on hold until we can confirm that the funds have cleared. This may take until Monday or Tuesday. I understand you will be very disappointed at the delay, and if we need to, we can cancel the order. I’m sorry this isn’t working out smoothly.

Jason

Hey Jason,

We have come this far not to achieve this purchase, I already informed you that the second check was mailed in error since it has same check number with your name on it and I asked that you trash the later you received. Is that too much to ask? I also gave you my SSN which is all about me yet you still allowed your banker to put a HOLD on the transaction.

This is highly unfair, you have my money in full budget now with you as well as the art piece leaving me with nothing. The only information I have of you are your name, address and cell phone number which you hardly respond to text messages because I have been texting that number.

You told me this morning you would be able to send me the confirmation for the funds you transferred and now you are putting a HOLD on a cleared payment that was made to you. This is unfair.

Thank you so much for everything as today is Friday I want to be able to get the transfer to shipper associate confirmed this morning as you have promised, don’t let me believe you have been lieing all along by giving me a series of numbers with an ACH in front so I can believe it’s some sort of confirmation. Have banker do the needful and get back to me because if I report to my boss about this, your account will be reversed and flagged as fraud. You will loose everything.

Pamela

Unfortunately there is nothing I can do, the bank will not release the wire transfer because the check transaction has been flagged for fraud.

Jason

I could have kept the ruse going a bit longer, and I imagined several scenarios to do so. I decided, however, that not knowing who I was really dealing with, it would be unwise to further antagonize “Pamela.” While I assume the scammer is in another country and wouldn’t be able to engage in a serious reprisal, I was concerned the an attempt might be made to deface my online ratings or something similar, and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk.

Had I been communicating anonymously, under a pseudonym, I would have felt no compunction dragging the communication out further to see what the results would be, and to further waste the scammer’s time and resources.

Interestingly, after that last email, “Pamela” went completely silent. I haven’t heard another peep from “her”, which would be highly unusual if “she” were a legitimate customer; as far as “she” knows I’m still holding $9,000.09 of her funds. I don’t expect to hear from the scammer again, however, as I’m sure he/she has moved on to other victims.

 

FAQs About Email Scams

I frequently receive inquiries from artists who have received similar emails, and want to know what they should do. Here is a list of the most frequent questions in this regard, and my responses.

Is there some way to block emails from online scammers, I get regular emails from them.

Not that I’m aware of. The devious nature of their approach, where they pose as a legitimate customer, would make it very difficult to block them. There would be no way to block these emails without also blocking emails from your real potential customers.

 

How can I avoid being scammed when I do receive one of these emails?

Knowledge and common sense are the key. Being aware of these scam attempts is a big part of the battle. If you are aware, you can take steps to protect yourself when you receive a suspect email. One simple way eliminate the majority of these scammers is to insist on credit card payment for any sales initiated online. You can use squareup.com or a similar service to send your clients an invoice that they can pay by credit card.

It’s possible for scammers to try to use a stolen credit card number, but this is much more difficult for them, and I find that when we request credit card payment, most of these scammers just disappear.

You can also refuse to participate in any proposed shipping scheme. Let those who inquire know that you will only accept payment in the exact amount for the artwork, and that you will arrange the shipping and bill the client separately for that charge. In over 25 years in the art business, I’ve never had a legitimate client try to arrange their own shipping – a request to do so should be a huge red flag.

Under no circumstances should you be forwarding funds back to the client or to a third party.

 

So what should I do when I receive an email from someone I don’t know inquiring about artwork from my website?

We treat every inquiry as legitimate, unless the it’s clear that it is a cut-and-paste scam attempt, like the example above. We treat each inquiry with professionalism, and let our clients know we handle online sales all of the time and will be happy to facilitate their purchase.

Here’s an example of how we might respond to a client inquiring about making a purchase online.

Thank you for your interest in [Artwork Name] by [Artist’s Name]. This is a spectacular piece and would make an outstanding addition to your collection.  It will be our pleasure to help facilitate you in acquiring [Artwork Name].

As you saw on the website, the piece is valued at [Artwork Price], and we can arrange delivery of the artwork at your convenience.

You may complete the transaction on our website directly, or you may call me at [phone number] to provide a credit card.

I look forward to assisting you!

 

 

How can we put an end to these scam attempts?

I wish I had a great answer to this question. My advice in the past has been to ignore the scammers and eventually they will go away. The fact that these scam attempts are still actively being made all of these years after they first appeared tells me that the scammers must be having some success.

I hope that by spreading the word about these scams, I can play some small part in reducing their effectiveness. You could do the same by sharing this post with your contacts.

My recent interaction with “Pamela” has left me wondering if we could all be even more active in defeating the scams by giving them a taste of their own medicine.

By responding, I tied up the scammer, and cost him time and a few dollars in postage and printing to get the check to me. While I wouldn’t suggest wasting time to the extent I did in my engagement with the scammer, it wouldn’t take much to get them to send their fake check along.

If I were to do this again, I would use a fake email account and name, and I would likely provide the mailing address the local police department or the area office of the FBI.

If everyone reading this post were to join me, I suspect we could significantly raise the cost of doing business for these scammers and make the economics of the scam far less favorable for them.

What do you say – are you in? Share your thoughts about these scams and any experience you’ve had dealing with online scammers in the comments section below.

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80 Comments

  1. Hello-I have a website and have received three of those scam emails. All three are very similar with the words being changed around slightly.Obviously not written by an American because of grammatical errors you would find when written by someone foreign-born and especially whose language does not have the same roots as english. I red flag them and I never reply even if just to mess with them. Thanks!

  2. About five months ago I had the same MO for one of my landscapes- Moonlight on the Stream- and the euphoria was real. The woman was buying for their anniversary but was (get this) on teaching a course on a ship in the north Atlantic. My dealings stopped when I said I used Paypal for payment.

  3. I recently had a scammer contact me, you a are dead on regarding the odd language they use! I got a kick out of you putting them through their paces with this particular attempt!

  4. I have an Etsy shop and I’ve twice been contacted by the same “Emily.” (I guess she forgot I didn’t fall for it the first time.”) She had no photo, no followers, no favorites, and although she was able to find a painting for “purchase” from my shop and contact me via Etsy, she wanted my personal email because “I don’t have this come to my phone. If you will text me as soon as you can to talk about it.. My phone number is…”

    The second time, I had no qualms reporting “Emily’s” fraud to Etsy.

  5. I usually have a good time with this type of scammer. I string them along and make all kinds of outrageous statements. It usually only takes one or 2 completely crazy and silly emails for them to quit, but I have had a few that go on for awhile. One guy finally called me a bunch of expletives for wasting his time.

  6. I have had similar scam attempts, I trusted the ‘buyer’ initially, until he/she got into wanting to send ME money to pay their shipper, for which they would reimburse me. That was weird. Alarm bells went off and I dropped the conversation.

  7. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for this post, I have been approached several times with the same scam, but did not bite.

    HOWEVER, once I assumed something like this was a scam, and after a couple emails from Italy, I got a phone call begging me to respond, that her company wanted 4 of my paintings for their 70th corporate anniversary event in a month. I had done some paintings of an Italian marketplace, and had put a design on the boxes that I liked, and just happened to be their logo. They had found them on my website and wanted to buy them. I did some research, including emailing their accounting and legal departments, to confirm it was legit. In the end, they purchased a total of 8 paintings. They did pay me in advance, (a legit wire to my bank) including shipping. A month later they sent me lovely photos of their anniversary event. It was one of my biggest sales ever, and everyone was happy.

    So also beware, not all international sales are scams.

    1. Very good point Sally – one of my best clients is from Bermuda, and I could have easily blown off the communication from the client. With the legitimate client, however, it quickly becomes clear that they aren’t giving the runaround by their responses to questions and their willingness to follow your procedures, rather than trying to insist on their own.

  8. I did indeed go through the same scam with the same story, and I strung the scammer along with several emails like you did. In my case, it was husband surprising a new wife–but everything else matches up. The real clue, of course, was the overpayment. Once I received the check, I actually phoned the bank the check was [falsely] drawn on, and asked if it might be a scam. They said the account had been closed and they already had 9 other false checks drawn on it. Beware, friends.

  9. Hi Jason, I am glad you addressed this. I went through this once, and wasted lots of my time, and also to mention, my bank charged me $40 for the fraudulent check. They said it is my responsibility to make sure that the checks that I receive are from good sources.

    I have also dealt with hackers/scammers when someone hacked my PayPal and Amazon accounts. To this day I have not figured out how they got in, malicious software maybe. Glad I got my money back.
    Radim

  10. I just had this exact experience last week with an Eric DiVito, claiming to be from Snyder, Texas. It is so frustrating. I did a quick search under “art scam” and there it was, different name but even the same town, but with the whole big story about the surprise anniversary present for his wife. Ugh. You were indeed very patient, Jason.

    1. I received an email today from “Kaden” in Snyder, Texas for an anniversary present for his wife! For such a small town, they have a lot of art buyers with anniversaries! 😉

  11. I just received one of these emails and could tell it was a scam immediately. The funny thing is they wanted a piece of art but didn’t specify a particular piece. It too, was for an anniversary And to be a surprise.

    I responded and told them I appreciated their kind words about my art and if they would specify which piece they wanted, I would send full details. They responded that they wanted something in the $1500 – 2000 range and I should suggest a piece

    I was getting busy so didn’t reply further but wished I had the time to respond and tie up their time as you did.

  12. I had an identical experience. When I received the check I called the scammers bank to verify account and funds. Of course there was no acct, no funds, and account numbers were weird. I filed the scam with the FBI on their fraud line.

  13. Hi Jason – That was very entertaining. You did that well. I receive about one of these each month and two weeks ago received one at the gallery. After a few email exchanges I replied with I know you are a fake and the copy and paste language is the same used by the others. I always insist on using PayPal as I have no way to accept credit card payments.

    They must still get some takers or this scam would have died out years ago. Be careful out there everyone!

  14. This was so fascinating to read.
    I admire your energy and great communication skills to keep pushing this!
    I have always wondered how these scams would go!!!
    I have always just deleted them…
    But have always wondered.
    Thank you so much sharing all of this with us!
    You are truly amazing and wonderful in every way for artists!
    Thank you so very much for all you do!!!!

  15. What’s amazing to me with these people, or any scammers, is that for the amount of time, effort, and thought that they put into a scam, they could be running a legitimate business where they make money and not have a consideration as to whether they’ll get caught and put in jail. They would have money and live free. I wouldn’t think that they live in desperate conditions because they have a computer and electricity. It just seems a twisted and illogical state of mind. What a waste.

    Thank you for this heads up, Jason.

  16. Way to take one for the team, Jason! I think you covered about every clue and every excuse that the scammer could create (and maybe even enjoyed the process a little). Thank you!

  17. Jason, I was laughing out loud at your emails to the scammer–so glad you wasted their time. The grammar got progressively worse as they got more agitated!
    I get these all the time and they are remarkably similar. A few years ago, I received one that was in the same mold, but sounded a little different so I pursued it. Turned out it was a wealthy young Chinese couple (poor English) who wanted to commission art (suspicious story) for their new apartment. I actually went to the apartment, high above Central Park in the city’s newest luxury building and discussed it. And several more artists from the NY artists’ website where they found us also went, but I never found out who got the commission–wasn’t me! I think they were on the level (just not very smart about buying art), so you never know!

  18. My scammer said he worked on an oil rig and was opening a gallery in Dubai when he retired. He wanted five of my paintings. (He didn’t bother to list painting titles). He said he would have his courier service pick them up.
    Of course I recognized it as a scam, so didn’t respond after that.

  19. WOW, Jason..interesting story and how you kept it going on and on..

    .that scammer must have been
    pretty upset when it all fell apart..

    -actually, probably only upset a few minutes as he or she had other victims in the works while your situation was going on..

    .incorrect wording in sentences and off kilter feeling is always a dead giveaway..

    and when the scammer wants you to give him money…well, that pretty much seals it

    I have also received several of those scam requests about my wood sculptures

    thanks for sharing it

  20. Slight Variation: I, like you, responded to a request simply to see what would happen. The person who contacted me (from overseas) would not pay with a credit card and said that they were unable to use PayPal because of some glitch. The check I received was for an amount larger than the purchase. I had the bank run a “check” on the check and it was discovered that, while the physical check was real, the check was NOT VALID because it was one of a number which had been STOLEN. The whole mess was subsequently turned over the bank’s fraud department.

  21. Thanks for for following up on this scam. Yes, I’ve seen it many times. I’ve had some fun with the “buyer” as well, but never followed the trail this far.
    It was entertaining.
    Chas

  22. Interesting article. As the comments indicate, the language and format are easy to recognize. I make it plain to the inquirer that I do not deal with their shipper, but use FedEx, and that the payment is to be by cashiers check. My bank will call the bank where the check originates and confirm, on the day I get the check, that it is legitimate and the funds are there. This has turned out to be foolproof and simple and fast, and doesn’t take up undue time or create anxiety.

  23. Jason, I applaud your tenacity. That was quite a string of events. I, too almost fell victim to a scam, tho’ in those days (15 years ago), they were centered in Lagos, Nigeria. I’ve since learned a very simple trick. It’s called “Trash”, and I highly recommend it to others. Time is too precious to give theses scammers any traction. I’ve sold several pieces from my site, but all were completed with simple, proper business proceedings. Thanks for the post.

  24. I love the idea of contacting the FBI. We need these people to know there are consequences for this ! Plus you are much smarter and experienced. I will be looking out for this. My art is probably not priced high enough. Lol. But please reiterate that you never deposited their check ?
    Thanks Jason, Blessings to you and family and know you have blessed me.
    Cheral

  25. Thank you Jason…I am a gallery owner, and receive this same identical request over and over again. ( I just had another one last week) I just tell them that the gallery pays for shipping for free, and that all they need to do is pay the exact amount of the purchase price, and I will be glad to wait for their shipper to pick it up. I usually get some feedback on why they need to give me more money than I requested, and I hold my ground. I (like yourself) enjoy letting it go on and on for some time, however at some point, I let it go. I did like your point where you requested an image from them from their phone. I will have to use that one next time . How can we stop this from happening? By letting others know about it. Thanks for informing others of this Jason. When this first started in Provincetown, MA. one gallery owner notified all the other galleries in town, and we were all prepared for it. Now we know how to handle it, and it happens pretty regularly.

  26. Hi Jason, Thanks for reminding us – it is so tempting to want to believe we have a good sale. I have several friends who have believed it and ended up losing the art and the overage amount. When I get them at my gallery, my first response is a very gracious request for a cashiers check. Weeds out the scammers!

  27. I’ve had a few of these types of scammers. They also respond to ads when you’re trying to rent out an apartment. If they send you a fake check through actual US Mail, they can be reported through the Postal Inspector as that’s considered mail fraud. Usually, they use UPS or FedEx for that reason. The FTC has a reporting system set up somewhere on the web, but I think they work harder on cases where someone actually loses money and not just time. When you get questionable e-mails, one thing to check is whether you can see the entire header information. If so, that will include the IP address they used to send it. Sometimes these are masked or from a generic one (especially if they’re using a phone to send them), but they can be useful. If you cope and paste the info, you can give that to the FTC/FBI task force. The last one of these that I got, I told him I needed him to send back the invoice with the check so my assistants would know which image to send him (I said I was traveling as well). I don’t know if he did, but the address I gave him was the closest FBI office.

  28. I, too have received many of these scams. There is always some very involved story about why they need to handle the shipping. Many of them said their agent will come to my studio to pick up the work and will give me a “treasurer’s check” — these used to be as good as cash but today are very easy to forge. One gave me the address of where the work should be delivered in London. It turned out to be a major hotel. Always the language is stilted and convoluted. For some reason, they start out by asking for the price of the works they have seen on my web site–my prices are on the web site. I really enjoyed seeing the entire scenario play out.

  29. Thank you for posting this Jason! I have not received such a scam yet so reading the whole conversation will help me recognize it should I receive one in the future. The recommendation to accept credit card or pay pal payments only would end this scam pretty quickly!

  30. Oh, I get these scam emails regularly. First I spend considerable time with the scammer, narrowing them down to a particular work of art, and I ask questions, probing what it was about the art that made it so desirable to the wife. Where do they plan to hang it, and how do they want it framed. I then write a lot about the inspiration of the piece, about the symbolism, the colors, and mention the awards and exhibitions. I tell them I process my sales through my online shop, and will create a listing just for them. On and on and on. Finally, I say for the buyers protection and mine, I will only take credit cards or Paypal. I say there are a lot of scammers out there, willing to take advantage of hard-working artists they know are probably in need of making sales. They never reply after that.

  31. We had a similar exchange although we didn’t continue as long as you did. However, we did accept the check and turned it over to our local police. Don’t know what, if anything, they might have done with it.

  32. Jason,
    Your response had me in stitches! Love that you used ‘her’ flowery language right back at ‘her’!
    Yes, I get these every now and then and I’ve always just marked them scam, sometimes forwarded them to the FBI and moved on.

    Would love for you to address another type of scam:
    Images of my wearable artwork were stolen on-line and are showing up all across FB ads, google ads, amazon, even on Etsy under a series of what look like legit companies. Turns out all of these scam companies are a part of a Chinese company: CHICV International. People from all over the world (who recognize my work) have reported my images, along with other artist’s images, showing up on ads from hundreds of different ‘companies’.

    Here is how this scam works: They show beautiful (stolen) images (even ones with watermarks!) – mostly of wearable art, offer the pieces for ridiculously low sale prices – under $30 for pieces that should be 10x more expensive. When customers buy, it takes weeks or months to get the piece which turns out to be a low quality scanned print on pieces of polyester. The cost to ship back is so high, that most buyers just eat the cost and toss the item. The buyers then turn to blasting the company with low ratings and scam warnings. Then when the heat gets turned too high, the company disappears and ‘new companies’ appear.

    I, along with other artists, have written facebook, google, paypal, amazon but, other than taking down a few photos from a few sites, most reply that they don’t have control over who advertises through them. Of course, since the company is in China, we have no legal recourse.

    The travesty is that consumers now believe they don’t need to spend any money on beautiful hand-made pieces, and when they see the real piece from the real artist, they can’t tell the difference. My guess is that you’ve probably seen our images on your news feeds and didn’t know they were a scam.

    Would love to hear your 2-bits on this scam scenario and perhaps what could be done to combat it!

  33. I get about one of these a month. I respond the same way each time:

    Dear “Pamela” (I use the quotation marks)
    I don’t accept checks. As YOU know, there are a lot of people out there that try to scam artists, so I only accept credit cards.

  34. Jason, You are a very patient person. I had one that was very similar to this. The “I am moving” bit seems to be a regular part of the strategy. I kept mine going a while too. In the end I insisted that he use Paypal. They actually creating a fake paypal page showing their “payment”, including the over payment to cover those outrageous shipping fees. With this I was able to get paypal in on the search for the fraud. They certainly have more resources to look for ip addresses on incoming emails. I sent them everything I had. I hope they caught them but it’s unlikely. If you have never seen James Veitch, you might enjoy his videos where he takes great pleasure in toying with the scammers.

  35. I received one that actually used decent grammar and an almost believable scenario. But I identified it as being suspect after looking carefully at the email address … it wasn’t a .com plus a goofy domain name. Knowing it was most likely a scam, one of my galleries agreed to handle it. I told the scammer that I do not make sales directly to customers and gave them the name of the gallery. The gallery wrote a great professional letter, and we never heard from them again.

  36. I recently received my first scam letter — very similar to the “Pamela” one. I was suspicious immediately due to a few grammatical mistakes but also because the inquirer wanted to know the PRICE of the painting. My prices are clearly listed on the website. I responded that the price on the website was accurate, and that the person could order the piece on my website. When a cockamamie story ensued about having to use a check that would be sent to me, I simply said “I don’t work that way” and again said the person could order it online. That was the end of that.

  37. I admire your patience. I also received an email relatively recently (not the first time + probably not the last, sad to say), same story as yours, different name & location. I responded that the work was available for $$ + shipping & insurance, but no, I do not accept checks; credit card only. Actually got a response that she was only “open to check payment”. Suspecting a scam from the beginning, just clicked the spam folder – end of story.

  38. I encountered one of these about 10 years ago, and, like you, I decided to play along to see how far it would go.

    They insisted that they needed to send their own shipping crew to my studio to carefully pack my painting for shipping (it was an 8″x10″ painting). I declined and said my policy is to do my own packing.

    They finally agreed that their shipper didn’t have to pack the item, just pick it up. They would include the shipping charge in the check to me and I was to give their people the shipping payment in cash when they picked up the item.

    When the check arrived, it was a $2,000 check for a small $250 painting. Of course, their hope was that I would deposit the check (which was from a bank in New Jersey even though the client’s address was supposedly in England), give their “shipper” over a thousand dollars in cash, and then by the time my bank notified me that their check had bounced, they would be long gone with my cash. (I’m not sure how someone in Britain or New Jersey was supposed to find my studio in rural Oregon).

    I took the check to my bank, and explained that I thought it was a scam. They made a photocopy of the check, and reported it to the national bank fraud folks. I didn’t deposit it, and never heard from my “collector” again.

    Since then I get variations of this email every year or so – it seems to run in cycles. For the ones that are blatantly obvious, I just flag them as junk mail and delete. If I’m not sure, I respond politely the first time, just in case it is a legitimate inquiry.

    If the email exchange proceeds, I firmly state that the following are my company’s policies:
    1. I only ship via UPS.
    2. I only accept payment via PayPal (even credit cards can be bogus).
    3. They must pre-pay for both the shipping charge and the item before I will ship it.

    If they question that, I say that my attorney and my accountant have established those policies and I do not have the authority to over-ride them.

    I rarely hear from them again, but if I do, I just delete.

  39. You went on much longer than I did. I took the email to my bank and to the police. I was told that if I had deposited the check, I would have been guilty of fraud for taking money from someone’s account. So this is more serious than annoying.
    My guy was moving to the Phillippines.
    Arlene

  40. Very interesting. Thanks so much for posting this. I almost fell for a scamming years ago. Thank goodness I realized in time that it was a scam. I had the fake check, supposedly authentic check that was sent to me for the longest time not knowing if I should report it or what. I didn’t. Now I’m always very careful. We can’t be careful enough! Again, thank you and I hope this helps others!

  41. Reading this was so entertaining. I realize this is a very “real” thing. I’ve also been approached by a couple of scammers in the last year, but I don’t have the patience to put up with them as you do. I just delete their email and ignore them. I never hear from them again. Thank you for reminding us about this. I always try to stay alert. Luckily, my art that I’ve sold in the last couple of years has been through facebook and are people I know.

  42. I have had several of these scammers as well. One I played along through emails and even received a check with some bogus business name and PO Box. Knowing the check was fake, I showed it to a friend of mine who is a retired police officer, she said to stop corresponding with them because you just don’t know who you’re dealing with. So I did.

    Another scammer had a story they wanted a painting for a new apartment in some foreign place they were moving to. They claimed to be in Seattle which is only a 3 hour drive for me. So, I played along and said that my husband and I just happen to be driving to Seattle on the week end to visit our brother in law a attorney, and that it would be an easy exchange. They wrote some crazy email back and then stopped corresponding. I don’t waste my time anymore with these scammers.

  43. Thank you Jason for bringing up this topic. I was on Instagram and had a gentleman who wanted to buy 4 pieces of my artwork. At first I was elated, then the deal was his boss was paying for the paintings but because it was for a remodel of his office, he had to send a check over the amount of my paintings. So I went along and he told me, “Deposit the check at the ATM machine”. The check was sent identical to yours, but this check was bogus because of so. many things, it would take days to explain. He wanted me to transfer the excess money into his account at Wells Fargo.

    So I went directly to the bank teller and told my story to her. Gave her the account number and the Manager took the check and said they would turn this over to the FBI. I did learn they were in Florida. That was 3 years ago and just recently got back on Instagram.

  44. I’ve gotten a few of these. I realized quickly it was bogus but out of curiosity I played along for a while to see how it went, but I never pursued the process as long as you demonstrated here. I believe what you offered was highly educational for people who might be at risk of falling for such fraudulent activities. It is not only my art website that brings this garbage my way, but also my art therapy and counseling page. I have been offered huge sums of money to provide two weeks of daily group therapy sessions for a team oil rig workers vacationing together. The overly inclusive information got really bizarre for that one.

  45. Hi Jason
    That was illuminating!!! I’ve never gone that far with one if these folks. Thanks for sharing! I love your idea of routing the emails to law enforcement! I’ve been just telling the person that I only accept payment via PayPal for the amount plus shipping and that usually halts the transaction while everyone can still be civil. I did get an offer very similar to that and stated that I would except a check because I thought it was someone local. They replied with all the rigamarole and I said that after reading the email I could only accept payment via PayPal which halted the transaction. I realized I need to stick to the PayPal method unless I really know the person!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Stay well!

  46. Same scam some years ago except I got the address to send the the art work to. I googled the site and found it an empty lot. So the “brand new house” wasn’t.I sent an email asking if it might be better if we waited on the transaction until the house is actually finished. That was the end of that.

  47. Jason, for someone who is as kind and positive as you, I have to think you enjoyed a chance to kick ‘Pamela’s shin just a teeny bit!
    “You can purchase it on my website. I’m happy to take a check for the amount of purchase + UPS shipping. When you check has cleared, I will pack and ship.” NO EXCEPTIONS

  48. Almost the same scenario verbatim occurred last month on my website except “Pamela” was a man buying his wife a surprise anniversary gift. He was an engineer out at sea and would have a “shipper” pick up the sculpture. It seemed so far fetched to me and then a friend told me about these kind of scams. And then told him I could not process a check transaction and that I would destroy the check he mailed. That was the end of it. Haven’t heard a word since.
    Thank you sharing this Jason!

  49. Dear Jason,
    Thank you so much for the scam story. I was almost taken for %2500. Luckily the check I was given as not real and bounced. I also did not ship my painting. The amount of grief and mind games that this type of scam cost me was unbelievable. In the end the bank told me that the check could have been printed on somebodies home computer.

  50. My, you spun that one out quite a while. You have done a true public service, not only in keeping the scammer distracted, but in providing insight as to how they try to play it. Years and years ago I responded to one of those, and they started to sound threatening so I told them No Sale.

    These days if I get one of those, if they use the word “actually” in the opening gambit, plus mentioning a gift for their spouse, I figure it’s a scam & I don’t respond.

  51. Thank you Jason. What an eye opener.
    It kind of steals the joy of sharing your creations with folks. But, so glad you are there to help us artists avoid being taken by such corrupt people. Your whole family are great folks.

  52. Scammers are very sophisticated these days. I had an experience with someone requesting a mural in a renovated home (legit address in toronto) – at first I was excited at the prospect but 3 emails later I admit I did the same as Jason and strung him along a while. He answered all of my queries about the space and the art desired appropriately, had no issues with the quote but when terms were presented (Including a meetup at location) he asked to give me a credit card at double the quote and refund him so he ‘could pay his builder the balance owed) – I refused. Not a peep after lol. Afterward I thought I should have taken the card number to report it …

  53. It’s so important that we keep each other educated about these scams. I have also been contacted by scam artists through my website but my husband had a previous altercation with scammers so I knew it was false. My husband listed an apartment for rent. A potential tenant contacted him and wanted to rent the place. He said he would send a deposit check. The catch was the check included an extra $2,000. that was to be forwarding to the ‘interior decorator ” so the place could be furnished and ready for the “out of town resident” when he arrived to take occupancy. The story continues in a very similar manner to your email exchanges.
    Sharing this experience will help others understand how scammers work. Great job Jason

  54. If you have the time, it is fun the screw with these characters especially after what I have experienced. However, my “first” time with this type of scam was a real learning lesson for me as they strung me out with the same scenario while messing with my emotions and fears! Fortunately after overcoming the euphoria of getting a big check in the mail especially with a couple thousand dollars more than the check was suppose to be, I contacted the bank whose name was on the check. Sure enough the account was closed and the check number that I provided had already been used multiple times. After getting the information on the fraudulent check, I emailed the fraudster and told him, or her, in so many ‘colorful’ words that they are terrible people and it is unfortunately that they prey on people trying to earn an decent income making and selling their artwork.

    Unfortunately it happened to me again last year but this time it was buying a Honda generator through eBay. [Buying any large ticket items through eBay is a whole -‘nother story.] Because it was not related to selling my artwork, the fraudsters caught me off guard again. I used my my credit card for this transaction. The details as to how I found out this was not legitimate transaction was through the weird confirmation email, a message from eBay saying the item had been removed from their website, the Russian or Ukrainian email address and content of the emails. After wrangling around with this character for a couple of days, I basically told him not to send the generator because eBay said it was fraudulent, I had contacted my credit card representative to close my credit card, and blah, blah, blah. But at the time I didn’t realize that, although the bank restored the money back into my account, it is only a temporary move while the purchase is being investigated by the credit card company. Another lesson learned, again. Also, I was suppose to have contacted eBay first and then the credit card company. Since I had already informed this guy that he was running a scam, I knew that the box that the UPS guy delivered was too light and small to be a generator. Being native and curious, I signed for the delivery. It turned out to be a board. At first I figured that it was his way of getting back at me for not buying the generator from him.

    What was my next lesson that I learned? When I signed for the box, that information got back electronically to the credit card investigators and basically told them that I accepted the package–in this case the Honda “board!” I should not have accepted the box. The charge was put back on my credit card account and the investigative case was closed. It was only after talking to several representatives and accumulating receipts and photographs of the box, the board, the “from” address on the box and sending all that information to the credit card investigative department, that they credited me the money back into my account permanently. I will never know if the the scammer got the money.

    So, why am I sharing this story? Even though I was “experienced” with fraudulent artwork buying scams, I was still not harden to other scams floating around on the Internet. Sellers and buyers be on guard ALL THE TIME unless you want to learn your lessons the hard way too!

  55. Jason, you are so patient! I have received similar emails over the past few years. One time I led the person on and received the check for $5000. on a painting, for which I had quoted $2000. and was of course supposed to send them the cash difference. I was tempted to deposit the check and wait for a couple weeks till it didn’t clear, but never did. After a couple other emails I never heard anything more from them.

  56. Jason this one is a little different, but it has a certain smell to it. On my website I admit that I am a new artist and a senior citizen so I must look like an easy target. Not too long after I opened my own website I got an email from a famous art gallery in Austria. They wanted to know if I would like to show my paintings in their gallery. I have not responded to them yet, I get an email several times a week. I believe what they want is for me to send them several of my best paintings plus a fee for the honor of being scammed. What do you think? Thanks Ken Wallace

  57. Wow….this happened to me twice this past December.
    Jason, thanks for posting this and pursuing it to the end. I was wondering how this scam plays out.
    Basically the same story:
    – check only, no credit card or PayPal
    – their shipper going out of the country
    – surprise gift
    I got hooked up until the the instructions got wierd with forwarding money for shipping costs.
    WHAT I LEARNED:
    I called my bank and found that even though a check can “clear” and show deposited, the funds are not available for transfer or withdrawl until several days later when the money is received.

  58. I got a scam once wanting art work from my website, but at first thought it was legit. They were going to pay with 2 credit cards. That should have been a clue. At that time my invoice system processed through Stripe. Stripe could not process the cards because they were stolen, and they told me that under no circumstances should I accept them through another service or bank because even if they paid out, I would have to return the funds once the scam was uncovered. I was saved. Nevertheless, I wasted several hours making crates and packing furniture and sculpture. It turned out that several local artists experienced the same scam over the next few months and I was able to head them off.

  59. These scammers will go for anyone. I had an experience similar to the sample by Jason when I was trying to sell a used kayak. Same format, similar verbiage, fake check drawn on an account that had nothing to do with the “buyer”. When I asked directly if this was a scam after I received the check, I got silence. Pay me by credit card or no deal.

  60. Hi Jason, thank you so much for the good laughs. I read it out loud to my husband and given “these difficult times” it was just what we needed as comic relief.
    BTW, I get these kinds of emails all the time and usually dump them into junk. It would be much more fun to do what you did. Thanks again
    Linda Marie

  61. I have dragged out a few scams/scammers, myself, but it was still fun to read your experience. I have a few businesses as well as my art, so I get scams from many sources. The best was after I exposed the scammer twice, he/she finally said, “Can’t you just send me a gift card?” I laughed out loud.

  62. This is so funny that you should post about this now. This was exactly the subject of my monthly email. I also love to mess with these individuals and make them work hard for their nothing. And I once reached out to the homeowner of the address in Florida I was given to ship to (another variation) and he was obviously not part of the scam and said ‘all I know is artwork I never purchased keeps arriving with no return address’. I suggested he enjoy the artwork for a few months, or store it if he could, in case the artist reached out to see if they could get it back.

  63. Jason, thanks for that interesting ping pong scammer game. I want to mention that the FTC
    (Federal Trade Commission) keeps track of scams and frauds and tries to shut them down. That’s probably not an easy endeavor.

  64. Thank you for this! I read it when first posted, and found it fascinating to see how you handled it. It proved invaluable when -weeks later- I received a very similar email offer about purchasing my art via my website.
    I know to ignore it – but thanks to you I see how it would go if I didn’t!
    Very much appreciated you posting this for us.

  65. Jason, you actually did what so many of us would love to do…string the scammers along! Thanks for that…it made my day.
    I’ve received many of those emails over the years and nearly missed a nice sale to a customer in Finland because at first, and even second glance, I assumed it was not legit. But there was something about the note that had me take another hard look at it. I finally realized the painting they mentioned was not on my website so the only way they could have seen it was at an obscure show arranged for my Plein air group. After a few emails back and forth and funds transferred between banks I shipped the painting to Finland. Yes, they had visited my city.
    I suggest we NOT let the scammers know we are on to them because of poorly worded or misspelled letters…because that is usually a good clue that these are not legit customers and saves us from potential headaches.

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