Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Almost scammed

I almost got scammed.

I got an email from someone whose name I will not use here (even though it’s probably not his real name). The email said:

Hello. My name is __________ from Jacksonvile, Florida. The images on your website are so fascinating and so vivacious, looking at each piece of work i can easily see that you added so much dedication in making each work come out to life, unfortunately i lost the website where i first saw your work but i was able to save your email address. 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 $500- $5,000, I could be flexible with price. I am writing you because i need your assistant to get back to your website so as to be able to retrieve the details of your work that interest me or send me images of some of your new works with price.
Best Regards,

"Little Joan With Mask"

Well of course I was flattered that somebody thought my paintings were “vivacious” and wanted to spend actual money on one of them. But there were red flags as well. I know people are constantly scamming people on the Internet, and since I never promote my website, mostly only friends and family members even know it exists—although there’s always the chance someone Googling certain key words might find it.

I thought he must think I’m some big-time artist since he said “I need your assistant to . . .” but then I figured he meant assistance. Nope, don’t have an assistant, unless I count my wife, but she’s much more than an assistant.

So I sent him the url to my website.

He wrote back:

Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece. Also If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to Ireland 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 Little Joan with Mask Oil stick and collage on fomecore 17.5"X9" art piece as a gift to her. Let me know the last firm price you are selling this to me, I think it's worth it anyway, so I'll be sending a check.

His sentence structure was like someone whose first language is not English, but I shouldn’t judge him based on that
I wrote him back telling him “Little Joan With Mask” is not for sale, and after a few more emails he decided on another painting, “Louisiana Nights.” I priced it at $2,000 including shipping. That’s twice what it was priced at in my last gallery exhibition.

Louisiana Nights

He wrote:

As regarding shipping, you don't have to worry about that in order not to leave any clue to my wife for 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.

I would have come to purchase the piece myself but, at the moment, am on training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean (I'm an ocean engineer) with new hires who are fresh from graduate school and won't be back for another couple of weeks. 

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. 

I sent him my mailing address but nothing more and told him I would ship the painting after I received his check and after the check cleared the bank. My wife insisted on the after-the-check-cleared-the-bank part. She also did an online search for ways people scam artists with fake purchases, and one of the examples mirrored this situation almost exactly. I wrote him again saying I wanted $2,000 and no overage and I would ship the painting—no shipping agent involved—after the check cleared.

 He wrote back:

Hello Alec,
How are you doing today, My shipping agent is due in the U.S sometime this week. So i have contacted a client of mine to issue out a check which will include my shipping agent fees to you right away.

(kind of repeating himself here) He continued:

This is done to avoid delay or any inconvenience that may arise from his part and to allow check to clear before pick up. However, courtesy demand i must first appeal to your self interest and ask for your help in remitting the overage (after deducting your fee for the piece) to the shipping agent as soon as the check clears.

I would have handled this much differently if I'd been at home but am a bit pressed for time as our anniversary is fast approaching and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction...Kindly deduct any IRS tax incurred on the overage before giving the balance to the shipping agent. As i do not want you to involve any of your personal funds in this transaction, that is why all funds are made available to you. As an aside, they are not sending any bill or hold you responsible for the payment of my shipping contract with them.

I am really sorry for the mix up and will appreciate if you get back to me asap to know if i can entrust you with this transaction. I will be waiting to read from you soon. 

Best Regards,

So I repeated what I had said in my last email, and I never heard back from him.

The painting is still available if anyone wants to buy it. 

For artist friends who might be interested, here is the article we read: https://www.agora-gallery.com/advice/blog/2017/05/25/how-to-recognize-art-scam/

No comments: