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Avoiding Scam Emails

By Carolyn Edlund, posted 03/15/18 11:45:03

Artist Vs. Scammer
Carolyn Edlund for ArtsyShark

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Recently, I received a phone call from an artist friend who had been approached by a man wanting to purchase a painting. Bill (not his real name) had a gut feeling something wasn't quite right, and wanted to get a second opinion.

It turned out this was a typical scammer, trying to rip off the artist. Have you received an email like this?

'Hello, my name is Sean Million from Georgia, I was looking for some artwork online and I found your contact while searching. I will like to purchase some of your work for my wife as a surprise gift for our 20th anniversary. Please kindly send pics and prices of some of your art which are ready for immediate sale within price range of $500- $5000. I hope to hear a lot more about any available piece in your inventory ready for immediate sale.'

When Bill responded that he had reproductions for sale, the customer indicated he wanted an original, and chose a painting that retailed for $15,000. He wanted to pay by cashier's check, and indicated he had a shipping agent who would pick up the artwork. Bill received the cashier's check. But, surprise! It was written for significantly more than the cost of the artwork and shipping combined. When notified, the customer indicated that he would like a refund check from Bill for the difference. Additionally, the art had to be shipped right away to arrive in time to be an anniversary gift.

Artist Vs Scammer

The cashier's check that Bill received is phony, but his bank won't have that information for a week or more. Meanwhile, he could have shipped the artwork (which he will have lost) and written his own check to the "buyer" for the refund, which will have been cashed. The customer will have disappeared, and cannot be reached; they move on to the next victim. This scam has been running for years.

I suggested Bill send an email to the "customer" indicating that his attorney informed him this was a typical scam technique, and that their correspondence was over. Not surprisingly, he never heard back.

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