Close-up of an Artist Scam…

I have been receiving artist email scams from all around the world for over 15 years. These scams all take the same approach. Generally they state that they want to purchase work from your website, they are vague as to what work, they involve the buyer relocating from one part of the world to another, they aren’t concerned about the price of the work, their husband will send the check, they will have their shipper (who is moving all their household items to their new residence) contact you to make arrangements to pick-up the artwork to be shipped to their new home. They also include lots of extra personal information about the buyer’s sister, her upcoming wedding, a near miscarriage, a broken leg, a sick child and they are always in a rush to complete the transaction… well you get the point.

Even though these scams have been around for a long time, I still receive emails and calls from other artists asking me to review an email they’ve received regarding an online purchase of their work. These scams work because they play to our base desires, as artists, to have our work acknowledged and purchased. Simple, if it seems too good to be true, trust me, it is. Even when I explain that the email, they just received, is a scam and not a real inquiry into the purchase of their work, I inevitably get push back from the artist questioning my motives for suggesting that they were on the cusp of being a scam victim.

These scams generally play out that the buyer will send a Cashier’s Check in an amount substantially higher than the retail price of the artwork being purchased. The buyer will state that their shipper will contact you soon with instructions on how the artwork will be picked up. When the shipper calls they will instruct the artist to send the overage, from the Cashier’s Check, to them via Western Union. This amount is necessary for them (the shipper) to schedule the pick-up of the art work. The artist is scammed when they deposit the Cashier’s Check and withdraw cash to send to Western Union. Cash sent to Western Union, that has been received on the other end by the recipient, cannot be reversed. Two week later the artist gets notice from their bank that the Cashier’s Check was no good (suprise!). The deposit is reversed and the artist is out the real cash they sent through Western Union, and there is nothing they can do about it. Again, this is a scam, there is no buyer, there is no shipper and the check is not real.

I recently received, yet another, scam email from a person claiming to be a women from New York that would soon be relocating to London and she wanted to purchase some work for her new home there. This time I thought I would play along with the scam for a while to see if I could actually get this person to send me a check to see how convincing the check might look. The back and forth emails played out just as I’ve described above. The piece she was interested in, from my website, was a $300 retail piece, she asked what the price was, I told her $2400. A few more emails and a few days later I received   a Cashier’s Check from her husband in London in the amount of $3900.

Being in business for as long as I have and being like most people I’ve seen thousands of checks, Money Orders and Cashier’s Check, I have to say that the check I received was very convincing. It had several security features, a see through watermark, security printing on the back and micro printing along the top border, seems to be a real check…I think it would convince most people. But wait, there are other things to look at on this check that point to it being a fake document. See more below:

Below is a mark-up of the various areas of this check that are inconsistent with a real Cashier’s Check:

In an attempt to make the check seem legitimate and to reconcile the J.P.Morgan Chase Bank routing #, there is a statement in the lower left corner that says, “Issued by Integrated Payments Systems Inc., Englewood, Colorado. JP Morgan Chase, N.A. Denver, Colorado” A quick Google search will show the Integrated Payments Systems is a real company that processes and prints online payments and payrolls. You will also find that the use of this company’s service has been linked to various online scams.

A few last remarks…This may surprise you, it did me. I contacted Colonial Bank and told them I was preparing to post a blog about artist online scams and could they share any information they might have on the subject. Two things they said struck me. First, the paper of the fake Cashier’s Check is real and can be obtained by anyone from the web, this is why it looked so convincing, upon first glance. Second, and this is the big one, the person at Colonial Bank said it was their policy and most all other bank’s policy to either cash or deposit “all” checks as long as the customer has an account balance at least equal to the amount of the check. I will quote the gentleman from Colonial Bank…”If the check is returned back to us as a fake we simply reverse the transaction with our customer and our customer is responsible for any negative balance.” I think this is the reason these scams work, the checks look real, the banks will negotiate them and it can take up to 3 weeks to clear a Cashier’s Check. This is why the scammers are always in a hurry.

Finally, if you receive one of these scam emails simply paste the sender’s email address into google and search, chances are very good you will find dozens if not hundreds of posts in various places on the web about others who have been contacted by the same person.

I know this was a long post, thanks for sticking with me and I hope you pass this along next time you hear of an artist friend who’s all excited about the email they just recieved from their website about a big online purchase from someone who’s moving to a new house somewhere in the world.

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103 Responses to Close-up of an Artist Scam…

  1. Kathy says:

    Thank you for this posting…my first experience with this scam was a couple of years ago via an e-mail referring to items on my etsy site. I found it odd that the person did not go through the usual purchasing process that etsy provides. Once I responded stating that I would only use paypal as the method of payment (which is not actually true for my business, but….) the person stopped trying.

    Your detailed analysis of the bogus check is informative and entertaining! Thanks again~

  2. Thanks for this post.

  3. Sharon says:

    Great post, Michael. You do a wonderful service in spreading this information. In addition to being a potter, I’m an investigative analyst for the Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement side of the Postal Service. We investigate these types of scams every day (many, many crimes have some sort of a mail nexus, so we can investigate them). Knowledge is power, for sure. Thanks for helping spread the word AND for making the bad guys spend money on postage…although most likely they bought the postage with a credit card number that actually belongs to yet another innocent victim! Keep on getting the word out.

  4. Judy Robbins says:

    I am glad you stuck it out and actually saw the Cashier’s check so that you know how legitimate they look. I also have had similar experiences and the clues are in the first paragraph of your post – usually a foreign buyer or someone who is going to be moving and the check sent in excess of the retail price with the overage to be sent Western Union. Brigands and thieves will always be with us.

    • shyrabbit says:

      HI Judy,
      I’m glad I stuck to it too. As I said, the check looked really convincing and would pass as a real check 99/100 times. The particular email I received actually have decent grammar and was well written…

    • Albert says:

      My experience was similar. The scammer in a foreign country offered to lease an apartment I had advertised for rent. They sent a check for several months rent and more to rent furniture for them. There were several things suspicious about the check, so I reported it to the bank and did not deposit it.

      • I also had, on three occasions, replies to my ads for a house for rent with a story about having this cheque which was more than needed, and could I keep the first and last months’ deposits and send back the balance… two were replies to my ads, and another to my daughter’s ad while she was a student out of town and looking for a roommate. It must have been the same scammer as it was the exact same story. All three times we replied that we only take cash and only for the amount due – the scammer never replied on all three occasions. Thank you Micheal, for sharing this information.

  5. Mike Martino says:

    Excellent info about scams here, thank you!

  6. good job on the under cover- I still find it hard to believe that folks still fall for this.
    Well done.

    • shyrabbit says:

      Hi Meredith, Yes hard to believe but they do…I received a few emails as a result of my post from people confessing to being duped by this very scam…

  7. Troy Bungart says:

    Thank you Michael, you are awesome! I will share this with others.

  8. I had a similar thing happen recently when I was house hunting for a new place to rent. Of course, through Craigslist. I found one of those almost too good to be true rentals and asked for more info. I got a similar response from the “owner” of the property. “We are missionaries and we are moving to Ethiopia for three years…” In the email they ask you to respond back to them telling all about yourself and include a bunch of personal information. Yeah, right! I didn’t bother to respond. It was too obviously a scam to me but very unfortunate for those who are not aware. Thank you for sharing this information for artists!

  9. Bev Haas says:

    Michael, thank you so much your investigative reporting! This was eye opening info. We honest potters need to stick together 😉 Not only are you an amazing potter, you’ve got all the other skills needed to run a pottery, too!

    • shyrabbit says:

      Thanks Bev, I appreciate your kind words. Yeah, we need to stick together and never forget that if something seems too good to be true it most likely is…

      • Bev Haas says:

        Funny, how often do we have to hear the “If something seems to be good to be true…” reminder before we finally get it?! But, you couldn’t be more right on to repeat that which needs repeating… These scam artists (sorry the word “artists” is in there–they don’t deserve that word) are so manipulative while taking advantage of our good customer skills. It is so disgusting! The best defense we have is great information like this!!! Like you said, it looks like the banks aren’t doing anything to help stop or prevent these activities. But, I guess they deal with so many kinds of rip off artists on a daily basis that this seems like nothing to them. Someone just charged $200 worth of iTunes to our son’s debit card. Apparently, they got his numbers when he purchased something online. The bank credited it back, but they have no interest in finding out who did it. I mean, who are these people?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Michael –

    Perhaps you could work with NCECA and help them inform all of it’s members. I wonder if there have been any relatively new potters who have fallen prey to this sort of scam. When this sort of scam comes my way, and several have, they go immediately to trash. Thanks for your good work.

    • shyrabbit says:

      Hi Anon,
      Yes, I know several artist/potters that have fallen for this scam to various degrees, several of them contacted me as a result of my blog post.

      • Bev Haas says:

        That’s sad to hear that several artists/potters have been ripped of this way. It’s not like we are trying to get rich or anything. As artists, we put our blood, sweat, and tears into our work. To be taken advantage of like this is sickening. Thank goodness for your article Michael, as will help prevent others from suffering like they did. I hope we can spread the word, whenever possible, and repeat this information often…

  11. Anonymous says:

    Very helpful Michael. Thank you for the post. I will keep this in mind and share this for sure.

  12. Anshu says:

    Wow. Didnt realize small value items also have scams. Shall be very alert. Thnks fir sharing.

  13. Thanks for sharing Michael! Would you be able to solve this issue by directing the customer to your online store? Perhaps you could have shot photos of the work she wants to buy and post them in Etsy, forcing the scammer to buy through Etsy? Or do they offer some type of excuse as to why they can’t use Etsy??

    • shyrabbit says:

      Hi Joel,
      Yeah, directing a “real” buyer to your online store is a good idea, but these guys have no real intent on a real purchase…It’s all about the scam.

  14. John Putnam says:


    I ran across another scam not exactly related to being an artist but connected in that I received an email from someone claiming to be the sister of another Potter in Ely Min that I had met and visited her shop a few times. The claim was that she was her sister (who I didn’t know) and that she was stuck in London and had been mugged and her passport was missing and money, and that it was going to be weeks to get a new passport and she needed some money to get home. There was an address to send some money. I emailed the potter but got no reply. I did not send money and later found that is was totally bogus. Someone got into the artist’s email list and had done some research on who they were and apparently were hitting her email list phising for money.

  15. lilytinkle says:

    Thanks for that spot of nice reporting! I also find it interesting that the bank really has no
    interest in stopping this kind of scam from occurring. We really have to depend on each other in the community to protect ourselves, especially if banks are not considering themselves part of the defense network.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Great post! In addition to all the other problems with the check, Colonial Bank is out of business. I used to have an account with Colonial. The bank I used closed down and became another brand of bank.

  17. docrob50 says:

    the folks at Integrated Payment Systems will also verify the authenticity of a cashiers check and can do so in a few hours.

    • Bev Haas says:

      This is good to know. I wondered why it would take so long to authenticate a cashier’s check. I mean, aren’t they supposed to be as good as cash? Is it possible to cash them, if you want to, without risk to your bank account?

      • shyrabbit says:

        Hi Bev, Cashier’s can be reversed and yes I think most people think they are as good as cash but they’re not. As to why it takes so long to clear I think we need to ask our banks. IMO, the banks are facilitating these types of scams…

        • Bev Haas says:

          Yes, we need to ask our bank why it takes so long to authenticate cashier checks. If Integrated Payment Systems can do it in a couple of hours, why does it take the banks two weeks?! I mean, really? What’s with that?

          • Anonymous says:

            If you call the bank or processor that issued a check they can normally look in their records to see if the check was actually issued by them that is why Integrated payment systems could verify so fast. The bank that accepted the check doesn’t have access to that detail so they push it thru the system to collect the $$, Normally it doesn’t take all that long to collect….BUT this is not a normal situation.

            When it comes to bogus checks there can be many reasons why it takes longer to get returned, the fraudsters tamper with the checks causing it not to process as normal so that it buys them time. The longer it takes to figure out there’s fraud the more fraud they can commit.

    • shyrabbit says:

      Hi R’
      Good point, if your check is in question, simply contact the bank that it is drawn on…

  18. All great information to know and thank you for sharing!

  19. This is a terrific piece Michael, thank you, I really appreciate you sharing with us all.

  20. Paul Koch says:

    This was great. I have seen these often in my E-mail. Almost fell for one a few years back but when the scammer wanted to do the check thing i passed all the info on to the FBI. I also noticed when i was putting the file together for the FBI that the scammer was using a number of e-mail addresses, another thing to look at.

    • shyrabbit says:

      Thanks Paul, My understanding is that no domestic law enforcement will spend the time looking into this stuff, that’s why all of the scammers are out of country. The scammers do know what they are doing..

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you!

  22. Thanks for your work researching this. As it happens, this is not just a scam on artists. My hairdresser had a litter of registered Labrador puppies that she advertised in the Houston Chronicle. She recieved the same kind of scams with those puppies……people just moved to Florida, first they wanted one, then they wanted two…..they would be shipped via airline. And so on and so on. My hairdresser didn’t fall for it, she thought something was weird about these people. But…she could have.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Janie – I had this scam tried on me with my vacation rentals. I recognized it from other similar scams (my friend who has a furniture business almost feel for it) and simply didn’t return emails.

  24. Barbara says:

    When you mentioned that the possible victim was suspicious about your motivations I recalled that happening with me when I advised someone I knew that they were being approached by a scam. Sadly they feel victim to it because they wanted it to be real no matter what others or their own misgivings told them.

    • shyrabbit says:

      Hi Barbara, Isn’t that funny how it comes back on you for trying to help out. I some times think that people just need to make their own mistakes before these kind of things set in…

  25. tom says:

    I am a potter in OKC, OK and recently, I posted a kiln for sale on Craigslist. On which I left a direct contact # ( my cell). I recieved a text today inquiring about said kiln and I kindly responded, it was still for sale. Here’s where it got suspect, to which I immediately recalled reading your article and was hoping to get your two cents.

    It reads, Ok, I am good with the price and will be sending out payment via ” certified bank check”, which you will get by USPS. So, I will need your name and address to mail the check and arrange the shipment via my shipping agent. They will come pick it up and after the check clears at your bank, you’ll have cash in hand.

    Its somewhat different than the one (of many) you described. What throws me off the most is the pick up of my kiln. Its a 28wx27d Skutt electric. It weighs a ton, so I don’t see what they would even gain from working this angle, if in fact, that’s what they are doing.

    I sent one reply letting them know that, their arrangement would not work, but they could deposit the money ( a third, even ) into my paypal acct. and proceed accordingly. Havent heard anything back!

    I have to give you great respect and props, for I don’t know what I would have done had I not read this article 6 months or so, ago. I am proceeding as though it is what it seems, a scam.

    Thanks A LOT,

  26. Hi! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  27. Wendy says:


  28. Another telltale sign of scam is that there is always a grammatical error somewhere in the text.

  29. Deborah says:

    Very helpful information. Thanks so much for posting it.

  30. apcreative says:

    Simple solution: Wait for the check to clear before proceeding. (Oh, and ditch your emotions and the need to feel important through your work)

  31. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for taking time to write about this. Our egos sometimes get in the way of our common sense. Always enjoy viewing your beautiful teabowls on etsy.
    Phyllis Canupp

  32. EM says:

    Very well done piece on a persistent (and vile) scam. Would you mind if I reposted this with a link to your article on my art blog ? Thanks… MATTHEW ROSE / PARIS, FRANCE

  33. shyrabbit says:

    Thanks Matthew,…Yes, please be my guest and post to your blog. Thanks again for share this information with your readers.
    Shy Rabbit

  34. Walter Crump says:

    I received a similar email and led them on. The check I received was from a legitimate firm in the Midwest, no where near to the presumed residence of the scammer. I contacted the owners of the firm and they informed me that that account had been hacked and had been closed down.
    I also contacted the Attorney General.

  35. betti zucker says:

    Thank You I thought this was a fabulous article to share with us all. I will pass it on as more people need to know this. I had an experience a few years ago when a friend was looking for a sublet apartment in NYC for her daughter during a summer internship. The women subletting the apartment was in a hurry to go back to France and needed the money in cash……you get the picture. So the moral of the story is in any situation if the buyer or seller are in a hurry and need the money right away BEWARE. Again thanks for the lesson in learning honey hugs bz

  36. A very good article and advice.
    I’ve received these email inquiries and always ask myself, if its to good to be true, it’s a scam. I also have had friends who want to believe and want to reply.
    I appreciate the information on what to look for on a checks and checking their name on the Internet. If the banks won’t help at least we can help each other.
    Again great advise – thank you.

  37. Anonymous says:

    Very helpful.
    Thank you.

  38. Glad to see this post. I had one where the guy claimed to be an oceanographer at sea and couldn’t use paypal–why? you can e-mail. same scenario tho — will have agent contact and send money and then you send overage back via western union. This happened twice with the same “buyer”. Thanks again for the post and really people if you are that desperate for recognition do think twice about anything suspicious in a transaction.

  39. Great blog. Thanks for the scam advice as I’m just about to change mine with a sales page.

  40. Bo Zaza says:

    My wife had a similar suspicious offer that involved overpayment and wiring the excess back. She said, “Sure, I’ll send it as soon as your check clears.” End of story.

  41. Anonymous says:

    I had the exact same experience, and the English used seemed unpolished for someone named “Sarah”. It was the whole nine yards, including sister’s wedding, moving etc. I called a good friend who’s an intellectual property lawyer and he sent me the FTC statement on this scam. BINGO!! So I played along as well, got the big-money check, photographed it, then sent an email to “Sarah” saying only a check for the correct amount was acceptable and that I had destroyed the check! That was the last I heard from her!! Funny thing, when “she” detailed the delivery history of the mailed check through FedEx, her English was spot-on, not a word out of place!!
    Thanks for posting …. as I did also, on Facebook.

    • Shea McIntee says:

      I’ve been told that the poor English is actually deliberate – they’re looking for suckers, and apparently poor English will lower the response rate from people who aren’t going to fall for it.

  42. Shea McIntee says:

    My thought (not an artist, just a student, etc) is that an artist might have a policy on their website that no such overage or the like would be sent until after any check or the like clears.

    Not sure if scammers read such details, but that might perhaps cut down on attempts?

    The proper response is certainly to get the check verified before sending any money out – heck, in any situation where someone is ostensibly sending you money but wants you to send some money back…

  43. Eugene says:

    interesting… veddy interesting… i am in the midst of just such a transaction… not for artwork, but a craigslist item, a phone system i’m selling. same situation… not a cashiers check but a real check w a lawyer in the name of the account holder… my bank is holding its funds until it clears… the guy was saying to me to “ASAP” send me the cash difference, since the check was over the amount, by Western Union no less. i said no way, the cash hasn’t cleared. he had a “shipper” too. all the same ploy as in this story. i played this out slowly on my end bcz i’m not about to get burned, it was smelling real fishy. interesting I read about this today on FB this very same scammy thing happening just hours ago in my world… I’ve cut him off now. nothing lost on my end except time as I took my item off craigslist. anyone want a great office phone system?

  44. Lois Bryan says:

    I haven’t read all the responses, so my apologies if I’m repeating anything, but I worked as a teller in a bank from about 1967 through 1974, and yes, it was our policy even back in the horse and buggy days to deposit the check and “hold” the funds as “uncollected” within the customer’s account for a period of days, depending on the location of the issuing back. In other words, the customer / depositor did not have access to those funds until such time as the collection was released.

    Originally it was to prevent a thing called check kiting (

    That there is a scam, (and it’s actually been around for awhile), basically taking advantage of this old, conservative, tried and true banking policy, and that it’s being used against the unsuspecting artist or, in the case of Eugene above, CraigsList seller, is just sad.

    But, it’s important to keep putting the word out into the universe. Thanks for describing it so clearly. Well explained. If you don’t mind, I’m making use of your tweet and FB buttons.

  45. lighthouse75 says:

    Thank you for this very helpful post! It was nice of you to explain in so much detail.

  46. Hey there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be
    okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  47. whoah this weblog is great i really like reading
    your articles. Stay up the good work! You recognize, a lot of individuals
    are hunting round for this information, you could help them greatly.

  48. I did not have time to read all of the comments here, so hope I am not repeating, but I wanted to add several things. No matter how many of these scams I receive, never in my experience has the sender ever acted as a real art buyer or collector does. The scammers got smarter years ago and would start naming specific works on your site (vs. the original “I want your work. Will you send me a quote?” Buyers not only know the title, but they know the price, they know most all about the work, or at the very least, know everything that you posted online about the one they love. But I tested once and wrote one back, “Would you like the green patina or the brown on that bronze?” The response never answered my question, just pushed ahead with his agenda for me.

    Also, if you are lucky to live in a decent size city, you may be lucky enough to have a local branch of the bank that your check or money order “came from.” Because banks will honor a check in which there is balance to cover it, you may go to the SENDER’s bank and try to cash the check. You will find out IMMEDIATELY that your check is bad. I once went to a Wells Fargo and did this. They asked if they could keep the envelope for fingerprints, etc. I was fine with it. I doubt they really did anything (the scamming industry must be huge), but they certainly did more than I would or could have alone.

    Also, if you use the tip above and try to find out the routing number on the check to see if it at least matches the bank name, there is one way to do this. If you have a PayPal account, log in and try to add a new bank account. Follow the links they give you. Soon you will see a blank to enter the routing number. When you do, PayPal automatically tells you the name of the bank that matches the number.

    Still, your best best is to respond if your hope needs you to, but ask specific questions. There is not reason EVER for a collector (and certainly one you do not personally know) to PAY MORE for your art than you have asked for… and then want you to give them change back. EVER. Also, note that while they claim to have someone in your area to pick up the work, they never ask details on how to do that. They never ask about the size of your work or any question that anyone who cares about art would ask.
    Be careful.

    Thank you for this article.

  49. jkelly says:

    Why point out out the checking issues? This only gives them information to improve their deceit.

  50. J Gary Giron says:

    Tell them to send Bit Coins…they’ll go away..

  51. susandale says:

    maybe this has already been added, but this is why paypal works. great info shared otherwise, thanks.

  52. RD Wolff says:

    I wouldn’t normally post this kind of thing, but this one is a real dandy.

    I have been getting several emails from this guy in Madrid, I don’t know how he can even see my web site at all since I have almost every foreign country BLOCKED at the server level by country code since I do not sell my work outside the USA to begin with, someone in Madrid should get a “forbidden” error when hitting my url.
    This guy totally did not read the page for the sculpture as it clearly states I do not ship overseas, it clearly has the size and weight too, yet he asks for both more than once.

    Here’s the conversation from oldest at the top to the newest, bold is part of my reply, I kind of strung him along a bit in the end too I guess haha, this was a $199 item by the way;

    Hi Randall,
    I like so much your work, congratulations!
    I’m interesting in Art Deco Spandrel Panel Nr.D4 Dirty copper
    I live in Madrid SPAIN (EUROPE)
    Can you tell me the finall price to send one panel to the Madrid addres.
    I would give you my address if we reach an agreement
    sorry but my American language is not very good
    thanks a lot
    Pedro Puerto

    I am sorry, I do not ship to Europe, and will not, it states this on almost every one of my web pages.

    Hi Randall,
    I will go to new york soon, I can buy in your studio?
    can you tell me price, weight and dimensions of the panel,
    if possible bring him to Madrid with me on the plane.
    thank you very much

    Pedro, I don’t live in New York, I live in Western Iowa, not sure where New York was confused.

    Hi Randall,
    please can you tell me, price, weight, and dimensions of the panel?
    and your address and hours of collection in Western Iowa
    I`ll send DHL transport ( from Madrid to Iowa to pick up the panel,
    thanks again

    Pedro, I DO NOT SHIP to Europe, US customs, paperwork and all the rest are too much trouble, if it gets broken during customs inspection insurance will not pay for the damage, that means *I* pay for the damage. Last time I checked it was over $600 USD to ship this, it is over 70#.

    Randall Please can you tell me size and weight packaging and prices contained in your workshop, thank you very much, Pedro.

  53. I too have received many of these requests to purchase my artwork over the last several years. I figured in very short order that these were all bogus attempts to steal my art. Here is what I have replied to them. I tell them that the only form of payment I accept is WESTERN UNION MONEY IN MINUTES. I never hear back from them again.

  54. joan Morris says:

    Hi great info for me a new artist starting out, I love pagosa springs, year’s ago I visited with moon mullens and his wife now gone, that ran the old barber shop in town, we were all river runner s, I had slept in his yard and we took them down the San juan

  55. diane ayott says:

    Oh yes. I have received this dubious kinds of inquiries in the past. They always want to deal directly with the artist, don’t they?
    Thanks for posting your experiences and for outlining it all so clearly…
    Diane Ayott

  56. Reminds me of the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” It’s bad enough that in today’s economy, artists have a hard time selling work to legitimate buyers without adding in the need to be vigilant about fraud. The fact that banks will accept the check and dump the responsibility on the depositor doesn’t help eradicate the problem.

  57. Wow! Earlier this summer I was contacted by a women from Ireland…..once I informed her that her payment troubles were on her end and not with my PayPal account. So glade PayPal worked with me to realize this was a scam! Also I am printing your post and passing it along to artist friends THAN YOU!

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  59. Anonymous says:

    Thanks. This just happened to me for the first time – the poor spelling gave them away – but I had no idea how pervasive these scams were.

    • Les McDonald, Jr. says:

      I have been getting those for several years. Here’s my reply:

      Ok……Here’s how it works. You take your money to Western Union and send it to me by Western Union Money in Minutes. Once I have received the money, I’ll get it packed and ready for shipping.

      I do not accept Checks, Money Orders or Credit Cards.

      Logo Sign-Small


      Les McDonald, Jr.

      2623 Stoney Brook Drive

      Houston, Texas 77063

      (713) 977-4729 Home/Studio

  60. When I receive a request to purchase a piece I reply that I only use PayPal. That sometimes ends the conversation and sometimes works out safely.

  61. Madoc Pope says:

    Got one of these a couple years back when I was trying to sell some furniture through a Craigslist ad in Colorado. No artwork involved but exactly the same set up.

    I got hold of FedEx, which is what the scammers were “mailing” the payment through, and they fully agreed it was a scam as well.

  62. Thanks Michael. That explains a lot. it is happening in the UK too. I recently got a series of emails but became suspicious and stopped communicating but the first few emails sounded very plausible. I checked the email address, found the guy on Facebook and found that he had recently moved to America, whereas the emails said he was relocating from Exeter (near where I live) to Paris. I have shared over my networks because it is easy to become seduced by the possibility of sales.

  63. Charlotte says:

    I’ve been contacted twice in the last two years with this scam. I played it along for a few communications but it ended when I said “I am only able to receive payment via a credit card. If you would email me your phone number I will call you and we can discuss and handle the financial payment. I accept all major credit cards.” Never heard from them again.

  64. M says:

    I’m sure it happening in almost every country!!! I’m here in Ontario, Canada, and a variation has happened with me as well. I was selling my minivan on Craigslist’s Canadian sister company ( I was asking for a certain amount and stated that it was used, uncertified, and gave the short list of what work was needed to be done to have it certified (not that it matters but the cost of repairs qualifying it for certification was around $200 CAD). This scammer stated that they lived somewhere overseas and was needing a vehicle for when they moved here to this province. I was told in the response (from the scammer using the site’s reply box at first- it then links to email) that, sight unseen, they would like to buy my van, but wanted to send a check, with “extra” money to cover the cost of repairs, certification and *surprise, surprise* the costs incurred by the “friend/representative” that would be coming by to pick it up!!! I DID respond back to this email. MY reply was to say that I a) would NOT accept a check (regardless of the amount!!), and b) I would invite them to please come see the vehicle and inspect it PERSONALLY (or even have their “friend/representative” view it PRIOR to purchasing. I don’t know about the rest of all of you, but I’ve NEVER bought a vehicle “sight unseen” from ANYONE, and was suspicious of it being a scam immediately from their first reply!!!! Like many others, there was some protest via email and some “aggressive insistence” that they purchaser was “very serious and intent on purchasing my van”!!!! My response (TWICE MORE!!!!) echoed that I would only accept CASH, and I INSISTED that they at least come view the van IN PERSON prior to purchase. They finally gave up after my second reply back with those arrangements to be made FIRST and my insistence on a cash deal.
    This may be a variation of the scam, but I can vouch for the fact that the scammers are very abrupt and pushy to get the deal done!!!
    I knew it was a scam from the get-go because of fact that they seemed unconcerned with even seeing the van along with their “need” to pay by check. And involving a third-party? OK?? SOMETIMES plausible. But taken with the other factors in the communication??
    Big. Fat. Scam.
    If it smells like a scam, it most likely is. And DEFINITELY – if it seems too good to be true? It probably is!!
    As for the banks seemingly uninterested in investigating the frauds?? They recoup the cost of the bounced checks from the depositors (victims) NOT the scammers- unless they’re hunted down, successfully prosecuted, and flush with cash to repay- all of which is not usually true in most situations, and even IF they too are charged the NSF fee. But, the banks ALSO GAIN money from the NSF status (my bank? $45 for EACH “bad” check!!) REGARDLESS of who is responsible for it bouncing!!!! They. Make. Money!!! Why investigate when there’s profit to be made?? THEIR bread is buttered on BOTH sides!!!

    Thank you for your patience with my super long reply. And, THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH for your blog on this!!! There definitely WOULD be, and unfortunately WILL be, some out there “taken” by these types of crooks!!! ESPECIALLY with the “authentic” looking checks sent!! FANTASTIC info!!

  65. Hi,
    As a working artist, and a Gallery staffer, I’ve seen this scam approach many times. Maybe it’s spitting in the wind, but I respond to the first contact with something like:
    ” Hello, thank you for your contact and kind words. I am happy to be working in a way that brings joy and beauty to the world. Are YOU as proud of your work?” or I’ll add ” Maybe you could find another career. Life is short.”
    I don’t hear anything further. I’m sure they don’t take my words to heart…but it just feels good to throw it out there.

  66. Pingback: 5 Interesting Links for 09-02-2016 | Tales to Tide You Over

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