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Monday, June 7, 2010

Artist Experience: Tricia Allen Scam Email

Here is an email I received today from Rhode Island:

Thank you so much for posting the blog about art scammers. I was contacted by It all sounded a bit too good to be true because she wanted to buy 3 of my paintings and said she was moving to Johannesburg soon. She had the names of the paintings, but would not respond when I asked how she came upon them on the web. I am now waiting to see if she sends a cashier's check or money order - then, maybe I can nail her - or them.


We want to remind artists - scammers make these names up and rarely is it a woman when it appears to be. And they are never from where they say they are from. They make it all up.

If you are able, you can view the "raw" headers of your email and often the origination of the email is in the "Received: from ..." line that is above the "From: ..." line but different email clients may display these headers differently. Once you have what looks like the IP number (not the ones that belong to YOUR server which relayed the email to you), you can use a free tool online to reverse look up the location, something like .  This only gives you a location of the server where the email originated and does not provide a whole lot of insight as to where the scammer themselves are. They hack into systems to send emails and most often - they just use free pretty untraceable email accounts like hotmail and gmail and yahoo. But sometimes looking up the originating IP number can provide yet another clue to help you distinquish the email as a scam.

In one case of an email I received myself, the "story" was they were moving from South Carolina to Canada but the originating IP sourced in Belarus. That was enough for me.

But good for Karen for recognizing her email as a scam before she sent either her artwork or money (which will always be an overpayment on the cashier's check or money order that they request to have returned to them, only for you to find out a month later the check was fraudulent). And its a great strategy, if you want to reply at all (I never reply once I determine its a scam), to remove the original email in your reply and then ask a specific question that they will not be able to come up with the answer for, because they send hundreds of thousands of these emails. Ask for the name of the artwork again. That has worked for me.

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