Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Art Scam


This week I was contacted by potential customer via my website.
When I first began reading it I was flattered that someone likes my work and is interested in possibly buying a piece. As I continued to read the message it somehow felt 'a bit fake.' But I responded giving this person the benefit of the doubt. Below is the email I received. A red flag for me was the $5000 budget this person said they had. IF he had viewed my website and bothered to check out the store he would have seen that none of my pieces come anywhere near that kind of price. Again though, gave them the benefit of being lazy and answered back.

Greetings! My name is Steve Strickland. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she 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 must tell you I plan on purchasing some gifts for my
 wife as  a surprise for our 20th anniversary. Please I would greatly appreciate if you could possibly recommend few completed pieces ready for immediate
 sale within my budget $5000 (I can be flexible with price though). So you will be hearing from me lots more. Email is totally fine with me but if you want to
talk to me over the phone, please feel free to call me (323) 374-5218, although not sure how the phone reception will be as am on training voyage (offshore
the North Atlantic Ocean) to Russia and won't be back for another couple of weeks. Thanks and best regards, Steve.

I included the link to my store and gave him the range of prices and said that he could purchase them there. Easy right? Well, that is what I thought too. I mean if you really want to buy something then being given the online way to do it would be exactly what you want since you say that you are in Russia and definitely can't do a hand to hand transaction in Austin, Texas.

He writes back and continues to be vague.
Repeating the bit about his anniversary and could I pick some ready to purchase pieces and send pictures. Alright fine, I'll do more of the work for you. I send nine pictures and the price list for these items.

               Thanks for the message, I would greatly appreciate if you can recommend a few completed works ready for immediate sale that can serve as a gift for a
20th wedding anniversary.
I really need something for a surprise to my wife (can tell she likes your work). I would appreciate if you can figure out a piece of work that would serve
that purpose. Kindly email images and prices of your available works ready for immediate sale.
Thanks and blessing,
This morning, 3/21/2015, I get a response. Again vague. Not even telling me which pieces he likes. He says that he plans to be all five pieces, remember I sent nine. He wants this to be a surprise for his wife and wants to buy them super quick AND he is moving to the Philippines and will have some sort of agent pick up the pieces from me. OH and PS: wants my info so that he can send me a check.

Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of all five pieces. If you'd like to know,
I'm relocating to the Philippines 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 yours as part of gifts to her (quickly before someone else grabs it). Kindly email me the total price asap.

As regarding shipping, you don't have to worry about that in order not to ruin the surprise. as soon as you receive and cash the check, my shipping
 agent (who is also moving my personal effect) will contact you to arrange pick-up.

PS: In the meantime, kindly get back to me with your full name (you want the check payable to) cell phone no. and contact address
(preferably for fedEx not P.O box) where a check can be mailed to, so I can get the check prepared and have it mailed out to you right away.

Really? Why are you making this so hard? If you really want to buy them just buy it online right? By this time I already know it is a scam, but I am playing along to see what else they say. I have googled the number and the art scam has been around for a while. Apparently they like the name Steven. Currently he is Steven Strickland but also sometimes Steve Borgatti. And sometimes it seems he is Paul Newman.

I responded back that I need to know which pieces he wants and that I will send an invoice and he can pay electronically because I don't accept checks. I should get a response early tomorrow morning. I am guessing that he is going to say he wants it to be a secret and that is the reason for using a check. Really? The money still comes from your bank, right? 

To my fellow artists. Be cautious out there. Trust your gut. Don't accept checks and never pay money to get money. 


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