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Painter gets stuck in email scam (almost)

From my friend artist Greg Strachov ...

Dear Connie,

     There was an incident which the art community should read about in hope that it acts as a warning.    I received an email from someone who was interested in surprising his wife with one of my paintings.   He said that he was a biologist who was out at sea doing research.  He also said that he saw that his wife, in California, loved my work and that their anniversary was soon approaching.   I sent him some images and prices of my work and he selected a $4,800.00 painting.

    A week later, I received a check for ten thousand dollars and later that day, he sent me an email asking me to "please pay the shipper when he arrives to pick up the painting".    He then sent an email asking me to send the balance of the check to California,  to the main office of the moving company.   My bank had a twelve day hold on the check!   He became upset when he learned of the hold and said the he will call his bank to get it cleared sooner.   A few days later he emailed me and said that the check had been cleared and to go to a specific bank to send the check to the shipper.    I waited and then went to my own bank and asked if the check was clear and learned that it would be less expensive if I go to the bank that he recommended.   I asked the bank representative to investigate if the check that he sent was in my account.   When she opened her computer, she found that the ten thousand dollar check had a stop payment put on it ten minutes ago.   If I did not stop at my bank and simply went to his, the funds would have come out of my own savings since his money was no longer there.

  My advise to all artist is  be careful when you deal with email or telephone customers.   I called the FBI about this and they instructed me to go to their website and file a report.   I was a little surprised at this too because I would file this report and never know if there was something done.   Be aware!  

Has anyone else recently received one of these "opportunities?" Do you  have any suggestions for the rest of us?

Views: 1196

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on November 18, 2016 at 3:01pm

Yes, always with some screwball shipping/payment, third party scheme involved. I just refer them to my Nigerian representative. 

Comment by Michael Reimer on November 18, 2016 at 3:23pm

I have posted about this scam multiple times. The original poster should supply the exact contents of the first email he received. Most likely had he googled the contents of the email, he would have found references to the scam already reported. If it is new, again, he should post the contents of it so others don't get fooled.

The main scam is they send you more than you charged and ask you to send them the differences. There are hundreds of references to this scam on the internet. And scammers use the same wording over and over again

Comment by Michael Reimer on November 18, 2016 at 3:33pm

I'd like to know from Greg if the original email looked kind of like this.....Name and location most likely are different, but otherwise, could be word for word


My name is john Scotfield from SC. 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 would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you. Iam very much interested in the purchase of the piece (in subject field above) to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.

Thanks and best regards,


Comment by Pam sharp on November 18, 2016 at 3:46pm

got one of those as well, and the second email he was in a hurry, out to sea, moving to canada, and when I googled his name  Gorge barbara  BIG SCAM came up.  I must say you would have to daff to send artwork to someone who  was in california, had a job in the north Atlantic as a sea engineer(don't even know what that is) on a boat with no cash and no credit cards. and was not willing to use your paypal system, and moving to Canada. he had been to my web site as he had a number and a name of the piece.  that was also a clue as in the year that this piece has been out there has been limited appeal.  and rarely to women.   but it was fun to string him along for a short while.  


Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on November 18, 2016 at 9:19pm

Those emails are always so vague that they could (and do) apply to anyone.  He doesn't say, for example, that his wife liked a particular painting.  That's always a dead giveaway in my book.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on November 19, 2016 at 1:40pm

99.999999% of these email inquires are fraudulent. I'd ignore them all even if it means that you would blow off the remote possibility of selling a piece that way. If on the remote possibility that I read the email, I would delete the emails as soon as the person mentioned "my shipper" and for sure after sending a check that was larger than the full amount. Only scammers send a larger check and ask for the rest back.

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on November 21, 2016 at 10:06am

This is how started last month with me:


Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creative works on your
website and i will like you to get back with more details if  they are
still available for purchase.

Señora de la Perla and The player

I will appreciate an urgent reply.
I respond you can place the order via my website.
Thanks so much for your response to my query about those creative
works. I will like to  proceed with the purchase of both pieces ''
Image size 20 x 30 ''. Can you pls confirm the actual price  of the
two pieces so I can know how best to proceed.  I will also like to
know  what inspire you to make the pieces.

I will look forward to hearing from you soon.
respond those are special order sizes and take 15 days to get them done and the cost is 400.00 per image.
Hi Oscar ,
It is nice to hear back from you. I will like to proceed with the
purchase of both pieces. I think they are lovely works and I hope to
give them a good home. I am presently away on vacation but I should be
back in few days.

1481 NE 104th St
Miami Shores, FL 33138

Meanwhile, can you pls get back with your mailing address and phone
number so I can inform my husband on where to forward the payment. I
can have him send the payment asap. About shipping, you can handle it
from your side to my mailing address above or I can forward your
contact info to the local cartage company handling my shipment. They
can arrange FedEx or UPS pick up of the artworks from your studio.

I will look forward to hearing from you so I can know how best to
proceed. Cheers.

I respond: when I received the payment I start the project. I will take it to my fedex office and ship it myself. 
Hi Oscar,

Hope this message finds you well.  I am very sorry I have not been
able to get in touch for the past few days. It has been a very busy
time with so many things on my plate.  I am not sure if my husband has
been able to forward the payment to your mailing address but I will
check with him and get back later today or tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile , I will like you to acknowledge this email so I can be sure
we are still on the same page. Thanks for your patient.

Best Regards,
I respond: no problem please mail the check to my address but still wont be able to ship until 15 day after I received the check
Hi Oscar,

Good to hear back from you and thanks for your understanding.  I will
like to confirm that the payment was sent by my husband's assistant
and he was advise that you will receive it today or Saturday via USPS
so try and be on the look for it.

Kindly acknowledge this email as soon as you can.

Thank you.
At this point I told her Please e aware of to send me the check for the correct amount because I will return it to you and request you to send one for the correct amount. 

Since then the communication had stop and the check was never put in the mail.  If check her name and email you will find complains about this scam.

Comment by S Brian Berkun on November 21, 2016 at 11:58am

The last one like this I received was from someone that had moved to Greece, the address, when viewed on Google Maps, was a beach near a hotel! Beware!

Comment by Wallace Fuller on November 21, 2016 at 12:02pm

Comment by Wallace Fuller on November 21, 2016 at 12:11pm

Our scam e mail wanted two paintings that were over five years old and had only been exhibited and sold at a gallery. When I realized what was going on I asked for an address to ship to and they responded with our old home address which is now a NASCAR race track. I told them I had shipped the paintings and to sent me the check for purchase price plus shipping. never received check and never another email. I hope they are still waiting for the shipment.    


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