SCAM ALERT!!! Artists beware ...
I got this email a couple of days ago. In the subject line, it referenced the most expensive piece currently for sale on my website, along with the price.
"Hello There, My name is Robert Cook from Washington DC. 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 purchase one of your mythic series "desert goddess cairn" as a surprise to my wife on our anniversary. Also, let me know if you accept check as mode of Payment. Thanks and best regards, Robert."
Straight away, I felt a bit wary, but went ahead and wrote back that, yes I could accept a check and gave my mailing address (I figured that's public record and easy to find) along with saying I was putting the piece on hold.
Today, I got a reply that really gave me the willies. It was full of ridiculous details and totally contradicted the first email line about "observing my wife ... on my laptop ..."
Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece. Also If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to Canada soon and our wedding anniversary is fast approaching. So I'm trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise one. I am buying the piece as part of gifts to her (quickly before someone else grabs it). I am okay with the Price i think it worth it anyways. I'll be sending a check. As regarding shipping, you don't have to worry about that in order not to leave any clue to my wife for the surprise. as soon as you receive and cash the check, my shipping agent (who is also moving my Truck and my Properties) will contact you to arrange for the pick-up. I would have come to purchase the piece myself but, at the moment, am on training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean (I'm an ocean engineer) with new hires who are fresh from graduate school and won't be back for another couple of weeks.
PS: In the mean time, kindly get back to me with Your Telephone Number(s)(For Constant Communication), so I can get the check prepared and have it mailed out to you right away."
I started working on how I wanted to reply. This felt like total b.s., but I just wasn't sure what to do. So I posted a question to that effect on Facebook and got loads of replies to follow my gut along with a few very specific ones detailing the scam and how it works. You can read more about one version of the scam here.
And this from a FB friend, "We had this happen to us. They sent a check for way more than the artwork and said, "oh, just send us a check back for the remainder. You can keep an extra $200 for your trouble." We thought it was suspicious. So we checked on the check, and it was fake and they were using someone else's FedEx account to send the check. So, not only would we be out the money for the remainder, but also the artwork. And on top of that, the bank would have taken out fees for cashing a bad Check! Follow your gut!"
Amazing that this works at all, but bottom line ... always follow my gut!
Please share this far and wide!
with deep gratitude - kvk