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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Scam Email: Clark Elster

Here's another one received today. Same content we're used to in these scam emails, different name.

first email:

From: Clark Elster []
Subject: Bathtub Starfish 2

Good day to you over there, My name is  Clark Elster I'm from New Jersey and i hope this message finds you well.I was  going through your works and my eyes caught  Bathtub & Starfish 2 , i  will like to have it for my new apartment this month. please let me know if  the piece is available, if yes let me have the detailed price and more  information about it. i will be waiting to read from you  asap.
second email:

From: Clark Elster []
Subject: Re: Bathtub Starfish 2

Thanks for the message, I am very happy to know that the pieces(Bathtub) is still available for sale. i  must tell you i am very much interested in the immediate purchase because my wife really love it and she want me to get it home before she deliver our upcoming baby boy lol...I will like to let you know that  your payment will be in form of a Certified  Check.You don't have to worry about packing,insurance and tax because my shipper will be in the best position to do that as soon as you get  the  payment.This is because i will be traveling out of the country any moment from now for a  business proposal.So get back to me with the information needed to send you the payment  I:E :

Full Name
Standard Address
Phone number
Asking price reconfirmation

so that i can proceed in the payment arrangement, consider it sold get back to me asap with needed information.



  1. the exact same thing has happened to me. i received the same email verbatim, except the titles of the paintings were changed.

    what can i do to help stop this guy? who can i report this to? someone said there is some kind of cyber police?

  2. Hi Christopher,

    I'm glad you didn't fall for this one.

    I tend to believe the odds are VERY low that anything will be done about this - mostly because the loss of money has NOT happened yet (in your case, and in the case of everyone we help avoid falling victim), so really nothing illegal has happened yet, except for a spam. Cases usually involve those that can demonstrate a financial loss.

    Having said that, I'll post the link here for Internet Crime Complaint Center ( which is a partnership between the FBI, the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). I'll also add this to my list of links in the right-hand column.

  3. Hey I just heard from this same guy! I thought it was fishy as who can afford a $1200 painting if you live in an apartment in Jersey??? AND he didn't address me personal connection. And who would want a scene of the Guadalupe River when you live on the east coast? There was no personal message of why he liked the pieces, or was moved by them. It will be interesting to see if he responds back to my reply that he may pay via PayPal.

    Thanks for this great blog!

    FROM:clark elster

    Good day to you over there, My name is Clark Elster I'm from New Jersey and i hope this message finds you well.I was going through your works and my eyes caught Summer on the Guadalupe & Brenda's Blooms , i will like to have it for my new apartment this month. please let me know if the piece is available, if yes let me have the detailed price and more information about it. i will be waiting to read from you asap.

  4. This is an old scam. They prey on people, especially artists, who advertise their work online

    I also got the exact same email from "Mr. Elster" today. "Mr. Elster" it seems, is a busy man very devoted to art! Must have a very large apartment too! I've gotten several similar emails many times before from probably the scam artists using a different names so I can recognize them easily now. The strange syntax and wording of their emails is the first clue something's amiss. Responding, I've learned, in any way is a mistake. They keep writing, and eventually even send a check, unsolicited, no matter what, which being so large, is very tempting to cash. And they hope you will. I'm glad I resisted.

    What "Mr. Elster" and his friends want is for us to accept their check...which isn't from a legitimate bank...and cash it. If you get as far as receiving a check in your negotiations, before you cash it, look at the routing numbers on the check. There are always a few missing because the check's not from any known bank. Their fraudulent check will also be for an amount larger than the cost of the painting and shipping so they'll ask you to send them back the difference, a small refund they'll say just to help them out. If you do that you'll be caught short several times over.

    This is what happens. Your bank will notify you several days after you've deposited their check that it bounced. It takes a few days for checks to go through the clearing process. You'll then be stuck with funds having been taken from your account to cover the cost of the bounced check plus bank fees, and of course you'll be out the money you already refunded to "Mr. Elster" and friends. And worse for you as an artist, you've lost the painting you shipped.

    I've reported this scam several times here in Maine to the Maine Attorney General's Office, but I doubt anything can be done. A few months ago a prominent artist got taken in by the scam, lost money and his painting, and it even made healines in our local newspaper, The Portland Press Herald. So we need to spread the word ourselves. Seller beware! Be cautious, use PayPal.

  5. I got the same email except the titles of the paintings were changed from clark elster. I received the similar email from sean john in April too.
    I'm wondering it's a Nigeria scam group.

  6. I got one of these also. Exact wording.

  7. I got the same email from Gabriel Wolfgang.

  8. Clark Elster lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a retired police officer - he would not do anything like this scam

  9. The unfortunate truth about scammers is that they both make up names and they steal the use of names of perfectly innocent people. It's terrible. The name is not the only red flag in an initial scam email. It is typically what else is said in the email, and further red flags appear in the second and third email exchange. But many can be recognized as a scam right in the first email and so no further reply is recommended. But name alone is not a flag, unfortunately.