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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Scam Email: Michael Kleemann


I have a website which I'm still working on, from which I sell the odd painting. While I do illustrate scientific journals, I also do "gallery art" or whatever you call it, but I keep it all galleries, no reproductions, low prices, direct transactions and so on.

Anyway, last October a "Michael Kleemann" contacted me, purporting to be a businessman in Texas, on the cusp of moving to Turkey.   He wondered if I had any other paintings to offer but the then relatively few for sale on my website (I still have only posted a fraction of what is available). Not knowing what his interest was, I just said that I did and sent him a few samples.

He choose the [name of piece], and the [name of piece]. The former is framed, so I told him the shipping would therefore be more expensive than if it weren't framed and made some sort of general conversation about my love of Texas, and southwestern birds.   But I admit alarm bells were already ringing in my head as most first-time buyers express their interest in birds or comment on art or whatever, and Michael Kleemann was very terse, polite, but nothing personal.

He said that because he was moving he was in a state of flux and would it be okay if me mailed me the money in advance, with enough to pay the shipper at the door.

I had explained that I normally use a specific courier because I it is a local family-run company that I've dealt with, favourably, for years.

He instead said that he'd have his movers in Canada do the actual shipping.

That seemed strange, but hey, maybe he was a wealthy Texas business guy with all kinds of flunkies working for him, and a finger in many different corporate pots.

So I said, well, okay, fine.

But nothing happened.

Then, last Monday, my stepdaughter said there was a folder leaning up against the front door.  It was from UPS.  It contained a single check (or "cheque" as we write it up here) and it was $3,599.00.   An odd sum.  I had no idea what it was for.  It was a company cheque, and the company was in Manitoba, as was the credit union it was drawn on.  Google showed both existed.but the company manufactures medical equipment.   I have only sold two or three paintings to Manitobans, none recently, no one there owes me anything and I don't produce a darn thing that would be of interest to a manufacturer of medical imaging equipment.

Then I remembered Michael Kleemann.  Could this be the money he had mentioned?   If so, it was way too much, approximately twice what would have been necessary for the arrangements we had made.

Sure enough, I got an e-mail from him after all that time, with an apology for the delay in getting back to me.

The next morning I phoned the company named on the cheque.  "It's fake," I was told by the guy before I had fully explained the situation.  "And I bet it's for more than had been agreed upon."  It was.  It turns out that a lot of these cheques were out there and the company quite annoyed, but helpless to do anything.

It took nearly two days to get a live person cop on the line, but I did this morning, and he opened a file, taking down all the particulars, which will then be distributed to fraud departments worldwide.  

Michael Kleemann (obviously an alias) could be anywhere.  He did write to me the name of the "shipper" (a "company" based in Alberta) and a "tracking number" and so on, but the cop also advised me not to open any more e-mails from Michael Kleemann, as they could include viruses (it appears not, thank goodness, but that could change), and certainly not to respond to him again (my last message was designed to keep him interested as I hoped the police might be able to find him by intercepting the shippers, and I'm more than happy to be part of a "sting" if we can catch this crook.  
But I will take his advice.   I do have a viewing pane so when Michael Kleemann wrote to me this morning that, okay, he'd wait until the new year (I told him I'd be away until then) I was able to read it even if I didn't open the message.  

But the other thing the cop told me was that by virtue of my having responded, this person, or one of his or her colleagues, may try another scam, so I am now more on guard than before.

Frankly, it was a rather clumsy effort, but I HAVE sold art (and developed online friendships) from "cold" contacts, usually word-of-mouth, but a few times via my website, and I have sent art off to first-time-buyers before receiving payment.  A sophisticated businessman I'm not.

I've never been cheated, but obviously I now will modify that practice for the first-time buyers.  

I don't know if any of this will help anyone avoid being taken, but I felt better to tell you all then not.

I will forward his e-mails to you one by one, under separate e-mails (I'm not very computer-adept so it's the only way I know to do it).  


Friday, December 11, 2015

Scam Email: Holmes Raines

Hi Kathleen,

I'm an artist.
I received this email. I did not find anything about the person online, but it smells suspicious.
Thank you Kathleen,
Best regards,


Good day to you over there, My name is Holmes Raines I'm from Leipzig and i
hope this message finds you well.I was going through your works and my eyes
caught The thinker 60x80cm Oil on canvas, 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.

Holmes Raines.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Scam Email: Jonathan Hashri

It is interesting to me that I can dig through the some of the oldest messages on this blog and in my email and the below email template can be found, basically unchanged word for word, from years and years ago.

But really, that's bad news, because if the format and wording of some of these scam emails have basically not changed in so many years, it means it must work at attracting victims. Which of course, I hate.

Or this could just be a really lazy scammer who is using some basic old scam template to see how well it still can work.

In this case, they kind of make it generic enough that you'd want to write back to them to get a little more information and then they have collected their list of more "qualified" potential victims.

But us artists know real buyers do not ask their initial question this way if they are interested in buying a piece.

-----Original Message-----
From: jonathan hashri []
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2015 12:18 PM
Subject: info


Saw images of your paintings online, which really caught my attention. I am interested in purchasing paintings from your collection, can you please get back to me with the price range, sizes of your paintings, so i know how to go about my purchase.

Await your prompt reply.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Scam Email: Todd Rieck

Dear Kathleen,

Thanks for your awesome art-scammers blacklist.  Here's unfortunately another one for you. The bad english from someone with an ultra-american name, combined with the clumsy non-knowledge of art and the mention of a cashier's check, give me 100% certainty.  Won't be wasting any more time here!  The IP address from the initial incoming email is also included.

Thanks for all you do and wishing you great success and lots of REAL collectors.  Hope it's okay to send this to you here; I couldn't get onto the website for some reason.

Name: Todd Rieck

Dear M___,

Thank you for your email and more information about "______(DRAWING) ".

I am purchasing this for myself and my family purpose, I know my wife
will definitely like it because she like everything about Art.  Please
email me more details I need to know about the pieces.

Concerning the payment. I based in Illinois and that's where it will
be ship too. The payment I am 100% sure about is to send you a
Cashier's Check or Bank Draft for the total cost.

I will be expecting your email concerning this.


Sender IP:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scam Email: Valdmir and Rebecca


trick? or real?  trick!!!!  ;) d

Begin forwarded message:

From: Valdmir And Rebecca []
Date: November 11, 2015 9:51:23 AM PST
Subject: Art Inquiry

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.

Blue Heaven            36”x36”
I will appreciate an urgent reply.

Best Regards,

Never a good sign when they can't remember how to spell their fake name....

Scam Email: Michael Draxler


I just received this email this morning and I knew it was a scam the moment I read it. I’ve seen a few similar to this one over the years.

No signature, bad English, certified check, and last but not least, they want to pick it up instead of having me ship it. 

Thought you might want to add the name to the list. 

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Michael Draxler" []
> Subject: Lovers
> Date: November 11, 2015 at 8:09:46 AM MST
> To: 
> Do you still have The Lovers available for sale as i am highly interested in it and do you accept certified check as a mode of payment and also if pick up is acceptable, hope to read from you soon

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scam Email: Greg Hembree

This was an obvious miss on the scammer's part but they could care less - they play a numbers game. They send out thousands of these emails seeking that small percentage that reply so that they can funnel those people closer to the heart of the scam - stealing their money by pretending to overpay and asking the "extra" be sent via wire (either back to them or to some non-existent shipper).

Heartbreaking and annoying for this husband, though.

Hey name is Craig. My late wife was a very accomplished artist before cancer took her at a young age. This person below is clearly a scammer. He emailed her account. It's clearly a scam. I did not email back. Thanks for your blog post on the topic of scammers. Feel free to add this scum bag to your list. have a great site and blog....

Sent from my iPad
> On Oct 14, 2015, at 5:43 PM, Greg Hembree [] wrote:
> Hello,
>  I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website (piece in subject field above) on my laptop and i guess she likes that piece, I must also say you are doing a great job. I would like to know what inspired that work. I am very much interested in the purchase to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.
>  Peace and blessings,
>  Greg