Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Scam warning to my fellow artists!

I've been emailing back and forth to an "Elena Simpson" (email address blair.simpson20@gmail.com) about two paintings she wanted to buy from me for $2505. I am fully aware of these scams, but played along with it for well over two weeks. Her grammar was perfect, and much of what she said was not that out of the ordinary, but on Friday, the $4550 check arrived.

Early Saturday morning, I got the email from her that said:

"Regarding the check, I spoke with my husband and it seems he made a terrible mistake and overpaid you because he didn't have full details of the transaction since I was too busy when he sent it. I am very sorry for the confusion but I will like you to go ahead and deposit the check, you can then deduct the cost of painting plus shipping to my new address below. Then you can forward the difference back to him.

Here is part of what I said in reply:

"I totally understand how there could have been a miscommunication with your husband about the check, being married myself. But there seems another thing miscommunicated. I asked that the check have your name and home address on it, and of course the exact amount of the sale.

I've read on the internet that there are people out there who try to fraud artists by writing checks that are over the amount. I KNOW that you'd never try to do that to me. So to protect myself, I am asking you to please send a new check with 4 Cambridge Way, Alpine, NJ 07620 on it, for the exact amount of $2505 to me ASAP, and I will send you the paintings. ...

I'm very excited for you to have my artwork on your walls too, because I know it'll bring you great joy. I look forward to your email telling me that a new check is on the way."

What I didn't tell her was that I looked up her supposed address. Google Street View shows it's a vacant wooded area. Google also showed the phone number she sent was listed as a scam number, and her name, email and phone number were also listed as a scam on many websites.

I have not heard from her again. No surprise.

If you get an email from someone wanting to buy your work, even if it sounds like it could be legitimate, do some investigating. Google the email address, the name of the person, the street address, and phone number.

It might turn out that the person is really interested in wanting to buy your work, but it could also be a scam.

Please note: I did call the bank the check was drawn on on Saturday, and I was told there was money in the account to cover it. Yesterday I called and emailed the company whose name is on the check, but they have not responded to date. Today I turned the check, envelope, and the complete email conversation over to my local police department. There's probably nothing they can do about it, but at least there will be a police report about it. You never know if it could be helpful some day.