Search This Blog

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scammers That Target Artists

I have another blog. I have several blogs, actually. I'm not a great blogger. I don't post much. I'm too busy making art and trying my darnedest to keep up on facebook and twitter as well. Social networking is great... but it takes a lot of time and effort to make the best use of it. The irony is that I teach others how to use all these tools. But then have no time myself to be posting to everything effectively.

Not that long ago I posted something on my art blog ( and had gotten annoyed at all the emails I was receiving where scammers were pretending they wanted to buy my art. I never fell victim to it but got pretty close because the scammers have gotten pretty darn sophisticated and in this particular example, they happen to use the name of a woman who actually existed and could have actually been interested in my art (after my post was public, she actually found my blog and posted a comment!)

This led to me to creating a web page at my website ( where I wanted to write out a list of typical characteristics of a scam email (so other artists could get better at identifying them BEFORE they got scammed) and I also wanted to start to keep a list of actual (okay - fake) names and email addresses they used in their scam emails. That way, when an artist googled (yes, that's a verb now...) a potential scammer they weren't sure about, I was hoping my webpage would come up for them and they could have validation that it was not a real request for their art.

And it has worked. Pretty well so far. I get dozens of emails a week of people who found my art blog or my website and were saved from actually sending any artwork or thinking that certified money order they received was actually real.

This blog is my next step in my personal battle to help as many artists as I can avoid the blackhole of scam artists. Not only will I continue to keep that list on my website ( but I'm going to post them here as well.

Now remember - scammers never use their real names or email accounts that can be traced to them. They make this stuff up and use free email accounts like gmail and hotmail that are easily disposable. But still, the more we list here, the better our chances that an artist can search google and have some validation for them come up that the email is not for real.

This can be a slippery slope - because I don't want to post the names of people unintentionally who are NOT scammers, but I'll do my best to post on those that appear to be the scams going around online that are targeting artists.

Send or forward to me the examples of scams you get. I'll post them (removing your identifying information) so other artists can not only see the names and email addresses they use, but they can see the actual content of the emails and compare it to what they've received.

Here's how I feel. The scammers are taking full advantage of the internet to find artists to email and pretend they want to buy their artwork (or art classes or whatever variation they are working at the moment). It only makes sense that *WE* also take full advantage of the internet and combat this trend and educate as many artists as possible to reduce our vulnerability.

So feel free to send me your examples and I'll post them here. It will be their "wall of shame" and we'll spread the word and create a resource that all artists will benefit from.

Onward! Oh, and keep creating great art!



  1. Hi Kathleen - good work - here is one I suspect...
    On 20/12/10 07:24, ""
    > Hello, I would like to make inquiry about your artwork.
    > 1, What is the best price you are willing to sell it?
    > 2, Do you accept PayPal as term of payment?
    > 3, Would you allow a private shippers to come for the picked up of the artwork
    > after have paid for it?
    > I would be waiting to read from you.
    > Regards.

    and a second email...

    thanks for mailing back,i am an oceanographer and i am buying this artwork for my dad, i am at sea right now,and I can only pay through PayPal and you can put the PayPal charges on me because as at present, i don't have access to my bank account online,but i have it attached to my PayPal account,and this is why i insisted on using PayPal to pay,all i will need is your PayPal email address to make the payments,i have a pick up agent that will come for the pick up after payments has been sorted and will also handle the paper works. Be rest assured of a secured transaction because i am a serious buyer and i will only take the artwork after payments has been sorted out.Thanks and
    God bless

  2. Jess Slagleton
    Aug 18 (4 days ago)

    to me
    Hi there,

    Can you please confirm if I can purchase pieces of work from your gallery?
    I am from Europe, I know the difficulties encountered shipping
    internationally I hope we can sort this out without any tribulation.

    Kindly get back to me with your available work or updated website that
    displays your current work only if you accept my request
    All the best.

    Jess Slagleton
    10:18 AM (21 hours ago)

    to me

    Why is this message in Spam? You clicked "Report spam" for this message. Learn more
    Thank you so much for your urgent response, and bellow are the list of
    works that interest me:


    I want you to get back to me with the cost of the above pieces only
    if they are still available in your gallery or possession then
    we can figure out about shipping and insurance cost
    I will be waiting, so that you can have my credit card number to run
    for the payment

    All the best

    Christaki Kranou 11 Street,
    Limassol, Cyprus 4041

  3. I received a similar email(s). How do you know its a scam?

  4. You know because the scammers have various stories but ultimately they find a way to overpay (for something they have no real intention of buying) and try to get the victim to wire the difference, typically their story is to some non-existent shipper, but it can vary. One the money is wired, it is gone and untraceable. In the meantime, your bank has probably now figured out the original check is fake and they withdraw the full amount from your account. So you are out the difference.

    That's how it works. So don't accept over-payments - for any reason, and don't wire money to anyone trying to help a sale go through.

  5. Hi, I had an email exchange with DENNIS MORGAN. Here is the first of many emails:
    OCT 14
    Hope this message finds you well,im Dennis from Washington DC,was
    browsing through the internet and my eyes caught some of your
    works,i'm interested in purchasing some of your works for some spaces
    within my new house to make it unique and beautiful.
    Can I have few images of your recent works?I won't mind having your
    main website so as to explore more into your works.kindly reply with
    your cell number.

    Also in one of the other comments (Richard Crookes December 19, 2010 at 10:23 PM), he states his scammer wanted to use Paypal. Dennis Morgan only had a "certified check" and when I told him I would only accept payment through PayPal, THAT ended THAT!

    But he was so believable! Very sophisticated! Spoke good English. Very few spelling or grammatical errors.

    What I am curious about is 3 things:
    1. If someone agreed to pay thru Paypal, what could go wrong?

    2. Are these scammers furnishing their own houses with free fine craft?

    3. I gave him my phone number and website address. Could that get me in trouble?

  6. 1. PayPal is somewhat more protective but not completely - scammers have a paypal angle. They will attempt to do one of two things. Say they will pay with PayPal and then come up with some story of why that isn't working and can they use a certified check (which will be counterfeit). Or they will pretend to pay with PayPal and send a completely forged version of an email that looks identical to what PayPal would send to confirm a payment has been paid. But it hasn't and the scammer is counting on the victim not checking their account manually before wiring the overpayment to a nonexistent shipper.

    2. I have talked about this elsewhere in the blog but it is never about the items they are pretending to buy, it is about getting victims to wire an "overpayment" to some non-existent shipper. Then it is like cash and the scammer can pick it up and disappear and it is untraceable.

    3. Typically not. Some scammers may try more pressure to keep you in the scam "funnel" by calling you a few times, even threatening to report you to the authorities (haha). But their scam is a numbers game and if they see they are not going to scam you, they then quickly move on to the next potential victim.

    Having said that, try not to give strangers information that could help scammers sell your information to identity thieves who can be building a database filling in information on massive numbers of potential victims. But I don't think they can do much with a phone number and website address.

  7. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how they manage to scam you - Western Union, cheque, PayPal, money order - they do scam you. The fact that it doesn't look possible is what makes it work.

    One thing many (not all) of these have in common is they don't even name any of the work they want to buy in that first email - it's just "artwork on your site" (which they also rarely mention by URL). And that's because your email address was likely farmed by a computer, not a human being who actually visited your site. Note, however, that some are slightly more sophisticated and do manage to farm the name of a painting or two.

    If you receive such an email, copy the first sentence and plonk it in Google. Invariably you'll find lots of people got the exact same email (often from a different "person") and you may even end up here, like I did :)

  8. Just received one similar to this. I recognized the "without any tribulation" line, immediately. Once you've seen enough of these, they're easy to recognize.

    I've seen more than enough of them.