Anatomy of an 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 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, but 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 constructions 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.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.

111 Comments

  1. I’m in. I toy with the scammers too. When they tell me they are going to send a check, I insist all sales are run through Square to protect the transaction with the highest security protocols. I also state because of the fragile nature of art, I must ship to ensure the work is appropriately packed, protected and then insured in case of accidental damage during transit. The conversation usually ends there when they realize it’s going nowhere.

  2. I’m in.
    I had a very similar scam a while ago. So I played a bit. Got the destination address for the shipping. Searched it and found a vacant very overgrown field. Zoomed out- no up-scale housing compound. Copied the picture and sent an email that basically said, “Sorry about this mis-understanding. Once you’ve built your up-scale house, and can show me a copy of the deed, I might consider assisting you with selecting appropriate art work.”
    Silence. hey, it was their stupidity to use an actual address, but either way, they were screwed when I insisted on the delivery address.

  3. Received another one of these just today! Wanted to relate my own experience of the one time that I played the game. My response to the “buyer” was to say yes, I accepted checks (which I don’t) but only US checks drawn of US banks and I needed to know the name and address of the bank on which the check would be drawn. The scammer’s response was hysterical. He/she was sooo offended, saying “What is the meaning of this” and saying something like it was too much information. That was it. I did not respond to that him again or anyone since. You’d think they would come up with a different ploy as this surprise birthday and anniversary crap has been going around for a long time 🙂

    1. Thanks Jason. I love the way you played “Pamela”. I get these all the time and just ignore them. They’re so obvious as soon as you read the first sentence. I wouldn’t have the nerve to push it as you did. You’re good.

  4. Ha! Same scam for various products – I’ve encountered this in selling my art, in marketplace when they offer something too good to be true for sale – offer for sale through ‘offsite eBay listing’ FBI is involved. I think the best we can do to try to stop them ans protect our finances and artwork and time is to be vigilant – like stated here require purchase through secure platform only – not sharing email or address and phone number . Ans if we do have time to spare, mess with them 😈

  5. I have received a variation of that scam dozens and dozens of times over the past several years. I do not respond, but I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED reading your interactions.
    Thank you for posting this.
    Carol Nelson

  6. Thank you for posting this Jason, a very good reminder. For me it is easier to just ignore them, not worth my time but I do like to report them with whatever information they have provided.

    1. I get US Army generals who are lonely and want to marry me all the time on my Instagram! It’s funny how they think the sight of a uniform should impress us LOL. I even got a “3 star general” once!!! 😂

  7. I have received similar inquiries. With the first one, I followed up until I received a check, but when I took the checkto the bank, they said it was not “real.” I then took the check right to the local police station and subsequently forwarded them copies of the emai exchange. They then forwarded the info to the FBI. I have ignored all similar inquiries since then.

  8. Thanks for sharing your hilarious emails. It sounded like you were really having fun “toying” with good old Pamela! I get those all the time and don’t respond so it was fun reading yours! You really played “her” to the hilt! Kudos!!

  9. There is also another kind of scam which involves being invited to be in a show. It happened to a friend of mine. He received an email via his website complementing him on his artwork. The person who claimed to a gallery representative invited him to participate in an art show at the gallery. When we researched the gallery there were lots of negative comments regarding the integrity of the invitation. He didn’t take it any further so not sure exactly how the scam worked but figure it must have involved bogus entrance fees and maybe stealing the actual artwork. It was especially disheartening because he was initially very excited and encouraged by the supposed gallery recognition.

  10. This blog was posted the same day I had to chase away a similar scam!
    I’m an illustrator as well as painter, and it was normal for me to receive an inquiry about doing some drawings relating to pandemic conditions. The job sounded easy and they said up front that they could pay over $600 apiece for five drawings. I usually have to make an estimate so I was glad to pick up a job that offered more ample payment than most.
    I did ask for $800 in advance which they agreed to. They asked me to send my mailing address to a text number, which I thought was odd but I sent it. 3 weeks went by. I was on vacation for part of that time. When I returned, I wrote back wondering if they had ever received my info. They had not, but were satisfied when I sent the address by email.

    Another two weeks went by. This past Friday I received a check in a large USPS priority mail envelope. The enclosed check was for over $6000 !!! No cover letter or anything else at all. Within minutes I received an email thanking me for my professionalism so far and they were so impressed they were paying not only the full price, but also for the second phase of the project!

    I began Googling.

    The check had an Indian LLC named on it with a Washington state address. The envelope was mailed from an ordinary Fedex/ USPS center in Claremont CA. The return name was a water company in another part of CA. I paid to join a search site and discovered the email address I’d been writing to, had no owner associated. The text numbers they’d given me were Pennsylvania area codes with no name associated. Apparently these numbers were available for text only.
    The “woman” I’d been writing to was eager to hear if I had deposited the check. I stalled by saying I was away for the weekend.
    This morning I was able to speak with a manager at my bank who totally agreed it was a scam. He advised me to just let it lie. I sent off a last note to whoever it is, saying that a family emergency had come up and I was dropping the project and would not deposit their check. About five hours have gone by without response and I hope they are just letting it drop.
    I do not know what the sting would have been… Perhaps their project would have been canceled just after the check failed to clear. And I would have had to refund them from my own money. Or… who knows.
    I should say there were things that off-key and strange from the start but I took the bait of easy work and high pay. Next time I will be more careful at the start!
    Jeff

  11. An interesting detail about these scams: I’ve heard that they purposely make the language awkward and the details a bit fishy, to discourage wiser readers, but not the more gullible/naive. It’s not that they are foreigners or poor writers, it’s just part of the scam’s filter.

  12. Just to let everyone know: There is a new version of this. I teach art, so a family (from Ireland-lol) has a daughter who will be visiting for 3 months. She wants art lessons 2x/week while she is here. They had the same strange grammar. She said “I and my husband…” and other grammatical errors. Unfortunately, I responded and got most of the convoluted story on the second email. I’m guessing the ruse will be something similar, like they want to pay extra for supplies or pay for the entire 3 months up front, but I’m not sure how they plan to actually MAKE any money on this! NOTE: They got my city right, but had the wrong state!

  13. I’m entering week three of “playing” a scammer. Tomorrow I’ll be telling “Ben Peterson” that my new puppy chewed the cashiers check up and I need a new one.

  14. Hi and thanks so much to everyone and especially Jason for writing this invaluable article. I’m very, very glad to have found it. Here’s what I got in the mail on Thursday and today at 3:51 AM! That’s Eastern Standard Time!

    Sorry for a long comment but I’ve tried to include everything and hope it’s helpful. A question–should I report this to the FBI? Also, a friend of mine in the Midwest told me the scam was almost identical to one she very unfortunately fell for. She even had to take out a bank loan to cover the money she lost and had to repair her credit rating.

    Here are my emails from “Bill Nelson”:

    On Thu, Jul 7, 2022 at 7:17 AM bill nelson wrote:

    My name is Bill Nelson from Pennsylvania. I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary, which is just around the corner.

    I stormed on to some of your works which I found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit you’re doing quite an impressive job. You are undoubtedly good at what you do.

    With that being said, I would like to purchase a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary.

    It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of work, with their respective prices and sizes, which are ready for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $400 to $6,000.
    I look forward to reading from you in order to know more about your pieces of inventory.

    Regards,

    please note similarities:

    have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary, which is just around the corner.

    I stormed on to some of your works

    pictures of your piece of work

    also note space between name Bill Nelson and Pennsylvania. It looks like either the name and/or the location were placed in boilerplate blank spaces, which the scammer(s) filled out using different identities.

    My name is Bill Nelson from Pennsylvania.

    Also note that the second email, below, was sent at 3:41 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, according to my gmail inbox! Depending on the time zone, at 3:41 EST “Bill Nelson” could be located anywhere between England (5 hours ahead of us, so around 9:00 a.m. in England) and the Philippines (12 hours ahead of us, so about 4:00 p.m in the afternoon in the Philippines).Hmm, 9am-4pm, sounds like a regular day at the (scam) office!

    second email in reply to my response, from “Bill Nelson”:

    “Please what’s the price tag for your ready to go available works or can you make me something on commission please get back to me ASAP thank you”

  15. To the moderators:

    Is it possible for you to please put back the paragraph separations in my long email above? It will make it MUCH easier to read.

    And I apologize for the length of my comment but hope it can help others avoid being ripped off. I’m so grateful for Jason’s article and have already shared it with the friend in the Midwest who got ripped off several years ago in an almost identical scam. I’m also going to forward the article to an artist friend in the San Francisco area.

    Thanks especially to Jason for taking the time to inform us, an invaluable public service.

    Thanks to everyone and stay safe!

    Judy Cuttler

      1. A few years ago, I received an email similar to what you received. Scammer was in the military, wanted painting for a surprise gift for his wife. He’s sending a check for $3000 over the amount, it would be helpful to him, if I put the money in with the painting, since we was going over seas. I didn’t respond again and thought it was over with. 2 weeks later a check arrives. I took it to my bank and told them what was going on. They checked and they said the check was real and that it would have cleared. However, the company owner, when informed by my bank, said that he hadn’t written a check. That it had been stolen by someone. Weirdly, the bank and the company owner didn’t seem overly concerned, saying they had insurance that covered this kind of fraud. (???) However, if I had complied, I would have become an accessory to fraud. I was disappointed on the bank where the check was drawn from, so I contacted the FBI with email and photo of check. They said they get this kind of information all the time and hoped I’d continue to be vigilant. (What?) I guess it’s that prevalent.
        Now, I just delete the scam and mark it as a scam with my email provider.
        Debra

  16. Great post!,

    When I received this scam, the first time, I thought, WOW! somebody thinks my artwork is worth that much. Luckily realised it was a scam but …. nice to have the complements.

    I generally reply to scammers super friendly, polite and positive. They will often just go away then.

    Perhaps, one day, I will have collectors with big pockets 🙂

  17. Thanks for posting this Jason!

    I just received this email and thought it could be a scam. I was searching for possible scams with art and your blog came up. I’m glad I read it!

    Just want to share the email in case anyone gets a similar message.

    Hello,

    I hope this message meets you well.
    How’re you doing today? My Name is Nicholas Britton & i am from Lebanon, Virginia I was researching on the internet and came across some art page, I honestly love your work & i must say you’re very innovative with a wide sense of creativity,I’d like to know if there’s piece of art that could be presented as an wedding anniversary gift available and their asking price list.

    I would love to purchase some of your art as i once read Art is not what you see, but what you make others see(i want my present to be Heartfelt) as a Gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary .Lastly as matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept a check as a means of payment. I await your response

    Be well
    Nick.

    Hope this helps! I didn’t answer.

    1. Thank you for this comment! I got almost the same exact message, thought it suspicious, googled “nickbritton787@gmail.com” and arrived here.

      Here’s what I received:

      ” Hello,

      I hope this message meets you well.
      How’re you doing today? My name is Nicholas Britton. I am from Herndon, Virginia. While researching on the internet and came across some art pages, I must confess your works are not just innovative, but your creativity is one of a kind. I’d like to know if there’s a piece of art that could be presented as an wedding anniversary gift available and their asking price list.

      I would love to purchase some of your art(Because i want my present to be Heartfelt)as a present to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary .As a matter of importance, Lastly I would also like to know if you accept a check as a means of payment. I await your response

      Warm Regards
      Nick. “

    2. I just got this same email with the SAME NAME!! NICK BRITTON from Lebanon Virginia! I copied the email into google and searched it and the first link was this page. Thank you for posting the contents of the email here! This is October 2023 and it seems like these scams are just getting more and more prevalent. I happen to have plenty of time on my hands so I’ll definitely be messing with this scammer!

  18. I did a Google search on a portion of the art email scam message I received 11/13/22, and it was an EXACT match to the first email you received (but I had “Judy Scott” from New Orleans, not Pamela). So this one is still making the rounds. I stopped responding after receiving the second message.

  19. Gotten a ton of them, and – probably because I’m a woman – mostly from men. IF I reply at all, I usually insist on PayPal and that stops them. Or I just write SCAMMER! to them and they don’t pursue. What I would really like is a number or FBI contact to make reporting them easier…and if I find one, I’ll send it on to you.

    By the way, I’m now getting similar ones on my FB pages. Doesn’t make them any more legit.

    You were a lot more polite than I have been…

  20. I have had versions of these scams for more than 10 years. Art clients from my website and in the past. I had a Vrbo house rental- “…our honeymoon, boss giving it as a present… send back the extra…” two checks received from different businesses. I called the businesses and they confirmed they were getting fraudulent claims – someone stole their accounts- to toss away the checks. And once the shipping company who was to ‘pick up the art’ had a very real looking website, but it did not function properly. Just a few examples…All different ways you can check on these for scammers. Using a credit card is the safest way to move any forward. I use Squareup.com, no problems!

  21. Like all here, I’ve received my share of these scams. I did respond to the first one I got, not having been aware of the scam. I did make note of the weird English, so already my antennae were up. As things proceeded, I simply said that I accept only credit cards for purchases of my work, and I only use the trustworthy shippers I have ongoing relationships with. I think there was one attempt to persuade me to use “their” shipper, but again I refused. There was no further communication. Since then I have been on it, and I dump such messages without opening them. It’s of interest, perhaps, to note that I have not gotten one in a long time…I can safely say “B C” (Before Covid). Heads up, everyone!

  22. Jason, I too received a check in the same manner you did, but it has been approximately 10 or so years ago. I would like to let you know, it was the SAME company (“PMC”) you received this on, so that indicates they are STILL around doing the same ole thing!

    I cannot see how they think they can continue to do these things, but by the time frame and using the same old stuff – they are just evil scammers and have no consciences.

  23. Why are these scummy-scammers targeting artists and galleries? Do we have a reputation for being desperate and gullible? I’d be interested to know what other types of businesses deal with this garbage.

    1. Years ago – before these emails were commonplace – my parents fell for a similar scam at the Bed & Breakfast they ran. They received a reservation request from an African pastor who then sent a check in advance to cover the charges for his week’s stay. A day or two after they deposited the check he emailed them saying his son was sick and he needed to cancel his trip to the US. Could they send a check to refund the deposited funds? Of course, my parents did so only to find out several days later that his check which (was drawn off of an international bank) came back NSF. Cost them $800. So, unfortunately not just artist are targeted.

  24. In addition to the famous anniversary gift and amazing European art galleries just waiting to show my work I am also getting scam messages asking to use my artwork for NFTs.
    I see people posting their scammers emails on Instagram as a way of “outing” them.
    Can you even call yourself a professional artist/ gallery owner if you haven’t received one of these scam messages ??? LOL !!!

      1. The NFT scammers are really helpful in giving you the steps to set up a NFT account and wallet. The hook is that they have many collectors who are willing to part with large 10000-25,000 sums of money to acquire your wonderful art. They are willing to represent you for a small fee that you pay up front before they will introduce your art to the collectors. The depend on you not knowing how nfts work or how volatile the market is.

  25. I’m an artist and a big time scambaiter. I have gone as far as creating graphics for fake deposit slips, fake PayPal transfers and fake wire transfer documents to get these scammers hanging on for weeks. We live in a small town so the PO will deliver the checks to me even when I don’t give the scammers my correct home address so they never know where I live. My total bad check take is now upwards of $60K. I have even “shipped” my “art” with a “cash refund” (fake bundle of bills) to a scammers address. I do anything to make them spend time and money. I also notify all the banks upon which the fake checks are drawn. They almost always tell me that the check number was already made out, but for a tiny amount. By reporting the scammer’s bank accounts to the bank you can further cost them money and time. Have fun, but be safe with your identity

    1. I absolutely love that you do all this! All the fake graphics and stuff – I may attempt to try it too! I have one of these art scammers on my hook right now and I can’t wait to waste as much of their time as possible 🙂

  26. Many Thx for your time & patience in carrying the conversation with the scammer as far as you did. You have provided us all with knowledge and a great lesson!

  27. I get these occasionally. My website analytics page provides the IP address, geographic location, time, and which pages have been viewed. Usually the IP address location does not match the location mentioned in the email received via my website contact link. Another flag is the scammer has not looked at ANY of my gallery/content pages, which clearly list what’s available and price. I just ignore the email so the scammer doesn’t get my actual email address. I’ve never had a scammer followup. I dis enjoy your story toying with “Pamela”!

  28. Jason, many of the new FASO website users are now getting a scam that instructs the artist to sell the buyer an NFT. I’ve gotten this type of message dozens of times now and the text is the same but the name changes. The language translation is much better now, but they typically use words like “Greetings” and “kindly” which shows they are not Americans.
    When new website owners ask about this – I say:
    Don’t buy from anyone who gives you complex instructions about they want to buy your work and you’ll avoid scams.
    They typically use words that Americans don’t normally use.
    I just report the emails as spam and don’t reply.
    Incidentally, people who have bought art from my website just contact me to see if the painting is still available, they pay by credit card or check from my website’s shopping cart and I ship the painting. That’s it! No complex instructions about checks or shipping or anything convoluted like that.

  29. “My” scammer just started with a check and poorly written letter that arrived at my studio. The situation was actually humorous: although the scammer quite sensibly chose an out of state bank on which to write the check, the poor fool chose one where I have an account – what’re the odds s/he’d be so unlucky?!! So I recognized the ruse promptly, not even tempted to imagine a valid buyer. Of course, even were I to try to deposit such a check, if an ATM took it, I’d be charged fee(s) for bad check deposit – I can’t imagine a human teller would let you get in that predicament. After enjoying the absurdity of receiving something so blatantly ludicrous (I almost felt sorry for the poor scammer) I wrote the story online to a gov’t agency that goes after this nonsense – FBI maybe? The papers are stashed here someplace, in case I remember to take them to my out-of-state bank when I travel there; it’s a small friendly bank, and the tellers there have a good sense of humor!

  30. I also get these – almost everyday. My reply is always the same: go to (my) Singulart account to make a purchase. Seems to end the BS pretty quickly. Interesting side note that these people rarely know what art they want to buy.

  31. this scam has been around for decades in various iterations because it STILL WORKS!!! It can and does target both individuals and small independent business. mainly those who are already desperate for cash flow. A friend got taken for 100,000 on similar commercial scam so i arranged for some experienced trackers to locate the perpetrators who turned out to be living in a trailer in pennsylvania. even with all the tracking done the police would not proceed. over the last 50 years in art business it continues to grow made even easier by the internet.

  32. Pick the piece up at the studio. Bring cash, money order, or cashiers check. I refuse to deal with a cyberspace gang of scammers.

  33. Another scenario has been: “I’m writing you from a ship on the North Sea and I’d like to send my wife
    who is moving us to England one of your paintings for our wedding anniversary….etc.” They actually
    sent a check on a so-called Wells Fargo check. I went to Wells Fargo…they said the check was good.
    I told them it didn’t have that special mark on the check…..the banker looked up the branch and address on check…it didn’t exist. Even the banks are in cahoots with the scammers….they then can charge you for bad checks.

  34. Hi Jason, sorry I missed meeting you in person Nov 14. My wife and I had a great day checking out all the great galleries in Scottsdale saw some great art. Yours was just as you show it on your website, loved it and meeting your staff was great. I’m new at selling so I love reading about all these scams to be aware of. Just a few days ago I got one identical to the one Judy Cuttler was writing about, I just delete, I can smell a scam like that. A few years ago, I got an award in an online art contest. The next day I got an email from a gallery in Europe that said they would like to show my art in their gallery. I would just need to fill out an information form about me and my artworks. Send a money deposit then if they accept my art, I will need to send my original painting to Europe. I saw big red flags about sending my money and art out of the country to never be seen again. I tried to do some research on their gallery but could not find anything. I did not get back to them and sent all of their future emails to spam. And as far as taking a check for a sale I might do it if it is from a local bank and I go directly to their bank to cash it and then send the artwork. Thanks Ken Wallace

  35. I’ve only gotten a few hundred of these emails. Can’t help but think that these people could never be accused of being clever. The same language every time year after year. Very much enjoyed your narrative about toying with them.

  36. Hi Jason. Thank you for taking the time to play through this scam and then presenting it to us in a serious but very entertaining lesson on how to spot a scam and what NOT to do.

  37. I’ve played with the scammers too. They contacted me through my website. I have 2 checks for almost $8,000. Two different scammers with the same approach. The first check I received was from a business in Florida that had been closed for years,. The 2nd check was on a non-existent business. Their lengthy follow-up emails were very aggressive when I told them my bank would not honor their check. It was a pleasure wasting their time.

  38. Hi Jason,
    I started getting these emails years ago. These scammers have gotten more wily and now I just delete them. The last one that got really interesting was trying to get me to accept payment through Quickbooks and to set up an account through that company. They were also trying to get me to ship the works to Greece. My “Pamela” was trying to tell me that because of a political situation in Greece that they could not accept Paypal payments. A representative from Quickbooks set me straight. She said, “Anytime someone is trying to get you to change your shipping methods, or methods of receiving payment, it’s a scam”. That’s pretty much what you need to know.

  39. Jason, I thoroughly enjoyed reading how you handled this scammer since I too initially fell for this. I had a nice web site and they reached out to me through it. I received a very large check by FedEx and was told to deduct the cost of the painting and send the remainder to them. Of course I sent no money after I realized what was going on. I called the local police and they came to my house to look at the check saying it was indeed a scam and to just throw it away. That surprised me because I would think it should have been sent to the Postal Inspectors at least. (My husband worked 30 years with the postal service and he said they will prosecute mail fraud after investigation.) I was pretty upset about the whole thing and canceled my web site. I loved reading that you gave the scammer a headache! This blog was healing for me. Thank you for posting this scenario.

  40. I guess I’m the only dunce in the group. I read and reread your entire post and still don’t know how you would have been scammed. If their check was fake, wouldn’t it have been refused by the bank? If it had cleared before you reimbursed them for the supposed shipping, aren’t you still whole on the art? I feel really stupid, but can someone explain it clearly and concisely. Thanks.

    1. Hi Vicky
      “This is from a government website.
      By law, banks have to make deposited funds available quickly, usually within two days. When the funds are made available in your account, the bank may say the check has “cleared,” but that doesn’t mean it’s a good check. Fake checks can take weeks to be discovered and untangled.”
      The bank will take back the funds from you.

      Also be careful if you have an Instagram account. Scammers are hacking legitimate accounts and contacting you through them so it looks like a real person. I was contacted last week by someone with perfect english but when I mentioned using Etsy to make the sale they requested “keeping it private” which confirmed my suspicions of a scammer.
      Ann

    2. You can present a check and it could be days before you learned it was a fraudulent if not written on your bank. The scammers are counting on you to be impatient and pay them the extra funds before the check is found to be fraudulent. In this case, they were hoping he would pay the difference in the check and the actual sales price, $5000, before he he figured it out. He would have been out $5000.

  41. Jason, I would like to thank you for the great information you provide in your blog. I am an artist, but only do Juried art shows and commissions. I have been following you for a while now and have been so impressed with the information, I started an inspirational art journal in order to make notes on your advice. I am hoping to register to be included in your gallery catalogue in the future.
    Thank you!
    Michele Polding

  42. When I received one of those overpayment checks (unsolicited, rather than after a lengthy conversation), I took it, along with the envelope it came in, to the postmaster at my local post office. I doubt that the USPS can do much about scammers from overseas, but maybe they have cooperative agreements with Interpol or some such.

    If anyone asks me electronically if I accept checks, I tell them I accept them only for in-person transactions accompanied by a photo ID. I then report the email as spam/scam to the apps that I use to help screen them, & block the sender. I realize these scammers use all kinds of fake email addresses and names, but at least my puny efforts slow them down temporarily.

  43. This scam ruse by no-talent low lifes is just one reason why an artist might consider signing on with a gallery. The gallery owner/reps can buffer the artist from the aggravation and waste of time that these scamers impose – leaving the artist to create rather than untangling from a nitemare of cyberspace criminals. The gallery’s commission is thus not only well earned but worth its weight in gold.

  44. Wow! This is really an eye-opener. I was aware of these scammer but didn’t know the details as to how they do it. I am a new artist and thinking about entering the the market and trying to learn about selling my art. This is very useful, thank you Jason!

  45. Thank you so much for this, Jason. I’ve always been suspicious of such approaches, but I couldn’t fathom exactly how the scam would play out.
    I’m getting the NFT ones through my Instagram account now, and I would appreciate further information about these too.

    1. Years ago I got contacted by a scammer, and played along for a while. I took the checks to my bank and they said they were real… So I schooled them on the fact that they were in fact fake. Now I have two checks displayed on my studio wall with the words “scammer“ written over the face of them.

      One day I had an artist friend tell me how excited she was that three of her artworks were being shipped overseas. The artworks were all packed up and ready to go; she was heading out the door, but when she described the situation to me, all the red flags went off!

      Ultimately, she believed me when I told her it was a scammer, and she didn’t send the work. Thank goodness, she told me about this, and I was able to save her a $10,000 loss.

      I was glad to waste the scammers time and money… as they did have to pay twice to send me their FedEx checks.

      1. When the scammer sends a check, you are not wasting their money. they are using stolen credit cards to pay for the shipping.

  46. I get these frequently. I thank them for their “kind words” and “appreciation” of my artwork.
    However, I only take PayPal; and since “this is for their anniversary surprise,” I suggest that they ask a friend or relative to be in on it and use their PayPal, and then pay them back.
    Of course, they don’t respond!

  47. I get these every few months and if I’m feeling game I’ll suggest a sculpture called “Paperclip”. The email is accompanied by a google image of a paperclip.
    Here’s an excerpt:

    Mario,

    I have just the thing…
    This piece is called “Paperclip”. 
    It’s about the size and shape of a regular paperclip and does not have a base but it looks great laying flat on a desk.
    It is so realistic some have mistaken it for an actual paperclip.
    This piece is available now within your budget for art at $5,000.
    Shipping is included in this price.

    Your wife is going to love this!

    Sincerely yours,

    -Travis

  48. I told a scammer on email, ” I’d be happy to accept a check. First send me the name of the bank, the routing number of that bank, and last digits of your account number, and your license number. When all of that proves to be legitimate, then I will BEGIN to package the painting for shipment.
    I never heard from him again.
    ( I learned what to do however, after my daughter was scammed out of $500. with the overpayment ruse, when selling her car. She used zelle. There was nothing we could do. The bank said it’s up to us to check the routing number of a check to ensure it’s legitimacy.) It takes a simple phone call to the bank name on the check, and ask the teller, ” what’s your routing number?”

  49. I’m glad I looked this up and found Jason’s correspondence; I am going through this right
    now and there were many red flags, but the latest one is that this person lied to me
    about where she was moving and needed paintings for her new home. Now she
    mentions a different city she’s moving to! That’s it for me, I’m not responding anymore.
    Thank you for sharing all your stories; it’s too bad this is happening to so many people
    and wasting our time.
    Barbara

  50. Trying to recover your lost money from any Online scammer is not always easy as we all thought, I realised this some time last year when a recovery Company called Amendall .net . helped us recover about 70% of the total money we lost to an online Cryptocurrency Trading Scam . Amendall company always tells us to be patient and we were patient during the investigation and followed all the recovery steps. Now, My husband and I are financially happy again. No more loss. I recommend this company for any chargeback issues. Thank you.

  51. My daughter is handicapped and she received this email nickbritton787@gmail.com. What a creep.

    Good day, Hope this messages meets you well,
    My name is Nicholas Britton, I am an academic event organizer, I’m also handicapped, I hope you treat me like any of your other customers and my disability doesn’t affect our dealings. I got your contact details online while researching online and came across some art pages, I must confess your works are not just innovative but also creative, I need the service of an artist or illustrator/cartoonist to work on a project for an upcoming workshop, I’ll give the idea of what I need to be illustrated/drawn and you can get back to me with the price to get it done, I’ll pay your fees up front if you want. Please get back to me for more details.
    Warm regards.
    Nick.

  52. The biggest issue with cryptocurrency is that it is unregulated, which is why different people can come up with different fake stories all the time, and it is unfortunate that platforms like Facebook and others only care about the money they make from them  through ads. I saw an ad on Facebook for Chickenfastmining and fell into the scam, losing over $30,000. I reported it to Facebook, but they did nothing until I discovered deftrecoup . c o m from a crypto community; they retrieved approximately  of the total amount I lost.

  53. Hey, I’m so glad that I found your post. I just received the following email which once I googled, interestingly matched the one that you received. This is insane, especially since pursuing art as a career is existentially so vulnerable.

    William Lawson

    Greetings , All I can say is WOW! There is obviously no limit to your
    talents and creativity. Absolutely gorgeous work! I feel that would be
    an excellent fit for our wedding anniversary , I am really much
    interested in your original art piece to surprise my wife , I am a
    novice and am eager to start collecting art. I’m from SC USA . Thank
    you , Will

    then they replied with another address: William lawson

    Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a
    surprise with the purchase of the piece. Also If you’d like to know,
    I’m relocating to United Kingdom soon but am a bit pressed for time
    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
    xxxxx as a gifts to her.
    I’m okay with the price, I think it’s worth it anyway, so
    I’ll make payment to you via bank transfer, As regarding shipping, i
    will include the shipping cost of item to you . At the moment, am
    on training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean (I’m an ocean engineer)
    with new hires who are fresh school graduates and won’t be back
    for another couple of weeks.

    PS: In the meantime, kindly get back to me with your, bank
    name , account holder name ,account number and iban /swift code plus
    postage cost to United Kingdom , so I can wire the funds to your
    account right away.

    Regards , William .

  54. I decided to reply to a scammer… I told them to send a check….but the idiot doesn’t look uo address before sending because the check I told them to make is heading to an FBI location instead of my home (hopefully I won’t get dinged for this later down the line). Also, when I told him a piece is $15 (it’s really not), he went to look for more pieces just to accumulate a price.

    This is their first email:

    My name is John Wagoner from Chicago IL. I need some artworks in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary, which is just around the corner.

    With that being said, I would like to purchase a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary.

    It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works, with their respective prices and sizes, which are ready for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $500 to $6,000.I look forward to reading from you in a view to knowing more about your pieces of inventory.

    Regards,

    John.”

    I have other exhanges. After giving him my site to look through, he immediately starts talking about check and great details of why he can’t do PayPal. I never mentioned payment method prior. I also been ignoring him since he said he sent a check. He emailed me the tracking and it appears the check is arriving today.

  55. Thanks for posting your experience with art scammer. As artist get involved with NFTs, I recently was contacted by a Williams Johnson for purchasing through giftxmint.com and fortunately there is a lot of info online dealing with NFTs and art scammers… unfortunately, the scammer correspondence takes time away from our passion for art…

  56. I had this not with my art but with a high end item i was selling on Craigslist. I’m laughing because the scammers all seem to be conveniently sailing on the North Sea. No money was exchanged and no bank accounts injured! The world has become strange indeed.

  57. I respond to such emails with the statement that they can buy it from my website using whatever payment option listed under the item (no checks). That ends it. But once i received a huge check with a hand- written note (!!!) saying it was a purchase order. I took the check to my bank & suggested they notify the bank it was supposedly drawn on so that bank could look into which of their customers’ accounts might have been highjacked (a bank-to-bank communication is more likely to be properly investigated). My bank made a copy of the bogus check & said they would look into it. I then took the original check, the envelope it came in & the “purchase order” to my local postmaster to use to try to track down the scammer. I doubt either organization did anything meaningful, but it took a lot less of my time than trying to get the FBI involved myself. And i would never bother with my local police dept. They blew me off when my catalytic converter was stolen in broad daylight with a witness. Why would i think they’d give a damn about mail or financial fraud which they’d have to pass on to a “higher authority” anyway, & would require them to do paperwork (gasp)?

  58. I loved reading this, and finding out I am not the only one who likes to play with the scammers. I have to admit though, your scammer is a lot more persistent than mine!

  59. A while back I received a very sophisticated scam attempt. They wanted to buy two of my paintings that totaled $12,000 – one was for her and her husband and the other was a birthday gift for her mother-in-law. As the process unfolded, warning bells began to go off. They were in a big hurry to know when their check arrived and wanted a copy of the deposit slip. The very day after I sent them the copy, she contacted me saying that her mother-in-law had suddenly died and wanted me to cancel that purchase and return the amount for that painting.

    I then went to the bank and told the story. The bank manager was 99% certain it was a scam. She advised me not to send money and wait to see if their check cleared. After a few days, I received word that the check had bounced.

    What was really funny, a week later I received another offer that was identical to the first one, only they wanted two different paintings. It was someone else on the “scam team” that didn’t know it had already been tried on me.

    Best advice. Make sure the funds are settled in your account before you ever ship a painting.

  60. I pass. Here’s why. Dealing with toxic treacherous people puts me in the wrong frame of mind for creating work that brings people joy.
    My solution, instead of wasting time engaging with them, is to simply state terms at the outset and stick to them without apology. I am not so desperate that I cannot let go of a potential sale if the client is unwilling to meet my terms. Simple as that. I had one try just this week, and they disappeared as soon as I replied that they could pay using any method allowed by the platform I use and that this is the only way I accept payment from people I do not know.
    By the way, these people are now using Fb and IG messaging to send requests like this. Oy!! I have better things to do.

  61. I get these scam emails all the time like all artists do….
    Depending on my mood, I do one of three things;

    1. Ignore it. (most of the time)

    2. Send them the following email:
    Greetings “their fake name” (I use the quotes around their fake name)
    I do not accept checks. As YOU know very well “their fake name”, people actually use ‘checks’ to SCAM artists all the time. These SCAMMERS actually send fake checks to rip off artists! I’m sure YOU understand this very well!

    3. I send an email that sates:
    I have just forwarded your scam email to the FBI.
    Have a nice day!

  62. I hope this information will be helpful to all of you in case you get a similar email.

    This morning I was contacted by Tori Archibald. She wanted to purchase one of my sculptures and after a conversation she said she would be comfortable with using Paypal to complete the transaction.

    She then told me she tried to send me $2000, (which was only a partial payment). It should have been $2995, and was as a result, a red flag for me. She even sent me what looked like a screen shot of the transaction, second red flat. All the while I was logging onto my PayPal account to see if it came through. I also messaged a customer service person at the PayPal site to see if the transaction number was was legit.

    She followed up by forwarding an email that supposedly came from the Paypal: services.usintl.paypal@…. That was my third red flag because of the “.gmail” extension.

    She gave a shipping address of: 757 BLUEFIELD LN, HAYWARD, CA 94541 which I’m sure is also bogus. By the way, there were none of the usual instances of poor English and misspellings which is typical of these attempts.

    I have typically considered PayPal safe but scammers are finding ways to may them look bad. I took considerable time out of my day to figure out that I was being scammed. Hopefully, my experience will help someone else,

  63. Shortly after playing along with the scammer a bit, I found out that a friend’s stolen credit card # had been used exclusively for hundreds of small fedex shipments.

    I connected the dots that the scammer sent his check to me using a stolen credit card for the overnight fedex.

    I don’t play along any more because that’s just adding to someone else’s identity theft injury, and in the end, all of us pay for fraudulent CC charges.

  64. They are using Facebook as well. About 4 weeks ago I received this: “Austin Flores
    Hi I’m interested in this beautiful at 🖼 piece and will like to add it to my collection if you’re interested send me a dm let’s make a deal” It was in response to a piece I had just finished and posted on Facebook. I played along for a couple days and the scenario was just like in the similar emails. I finally just stated that “your knowledge of the English language is not very good”. That ended the dialogue.

  65. I like to use logic when this kind of stuff shows up. First, anything that requires you to do something in a very short period of time is suspicious. That goes for all varieties of scams not just the art sale type. Second, who the heck thinks it’s a good idea to “surprise” a person with an expensive piece of art that person has never even seen. People supposedly with the kind of money to pay thousands of dollars for a piece of surprise random art are either scammers or idiots. Mostly scammers. Third, as one poster already mentioned, there’s no reason for a potential purchaser to request photos and prices of an artist’s work which is already clearly published on that artist’s website. Scam scam scam.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *