Art scam is a subject I knew absolutely nothing about until a few days ago. I’ve just gone through an ordeal with a scammer so I got my education first hand. Fortunately, I have been listening to all the media about the different scams out there so I didn’t get caught blindsided by this one.
This scam started out when I received an email Thursday December 30, 2010 from an individual with a foreign name asking if I had any wildlife art for sale. I responded with information about my website and directed the individual there.
On January 3, 2011, I received another email from the same individual asking for prices for a particular painting that was displayed on my website. I replied with information about the price, the image size, and the material onto which the image was painted.
I received a follow-up email on January 5, 2011 asking for my mailing information. The email said the he was interested in the painting and would be sending me a Certified Check for the painting. Another email that afternoon advised me that he would keep me posted on the status of payment. I told my wife this all sounded like a scam in the making.
On January 11, 2011, I received a FedEx overnight package. Inside the package was an envelope that contained three money orders, each in the amount of $998.12, that had been shipped from Houston Texas. There was no information in the package, but the name from whom the package had been shipped was unknown to me. There were no instructions about what the money orders were for.
My wife and I agreed, this was indeed an art scam in progress. She said I should call the police, I said I was going to wait for more information, if any was to come. Well it did. On January 12, 2011, I received another email from the “foreigner” stating the money had been shipped and he had confirmation it had been delivered.
The plot then became evident, and I was in the middle of an art scam of my very own. I responded to his email telling him that I had received a payment and asked him to confirm how much he had sent and in what form. He replied and confirmed that it was three money orders each in the amount of $998.12. My next email advised him that I didn’t know what he had ask for and asked for clarification of his intent.
His next email said that apparently one of his emails had gotten lost in my bulk mail and he wanted five of the paintings we had discussed. He said he knew the price should have been $800.00 plus shipping, but the person he contacted to send the money would not listen and sent too much.
My next email told him how much the five paintings would cost, how much the shipping would be to Houston Texas, and gave him a total cost for the 5 paintings. I then asked him for instructions for what to do with the excess $2100.00.
He then proceeded to email me specific instructions about how to wire transfer the excess money to some guy in South Africa. I responded to this email stating that I did not offer refunds and told him I could sell him additional paintings for the balance of the money.
In his next email, he said that he did not think it was “fair” for me to be telling him how to spend “his” money. He said he had already promised the man in South Africa that was running an orphanage that he would send him some paintings. He agreed to allow me to include one additional painting in the package valued at $500.00 and I was to send the rest of the money to the man in South Africa.
In my last email back to him, I told him, first of all, the painting, of which he had ordered five, was an original and I couldn’t send him five of them for any amount of money. I told him the money orders I received were dated on November 22, 2010, a full month before our first conversation.
And last of all, I told him I had called the money order company, gave them the serial numbers of the money orders, and they confirmed they were counterfeit. I told him I didn’t know how many other artists he had tried to pull this scam on, but I wasn’t stupid enough to fall for his scam and told him never to contact me again or I would go to the police.
I know this was a long and drawn out story, but I wanted anyone reading this to know that art scam is real. There are people out there with every conceivable plot to steal your money. Since I knew enough to know better than to fall for this guy’s tricks, it was really kind of fun playing along with him to see how far he would go to try to get my money. My advise is to be very careful. If someone contacts you with a deal that is too good to be true, it most probably is a scam.
According to statistics, most scam perpetrators are smarter than the idiot I had dealings with and many times are successful with their plot. Don’t fall for their tricks. If you are an artist and want more information about art scam, go to the art scam website and read the information they have available on the subject. There is a lot of useful information about art scam and how to avoid becoming a victim.
Until next time, keep your brushes clean, your colors pure, and as always, thanks for stopping by the North Forty.