Does my art make me look like a gullible oaf? I think these days being a little paranoid and cynical is a normal survival mechanism, like a light armor plating, and to not have those characteristics is a surer sign or neurosis than having them. So, when someone contacted me through email about buying one of my pieces, my heart didn’t pump faster, my eyebrow raised. I don’t remember doing it, but I probably instinctively sniffed around for a fishy smell.
There were a couple problems right off the bat, such as that the person making the inquiry was named, “Senior Collins”, and the email had a link to a dead website called “http://artworkisneeded”. Supposedly, mister Senior’s wife had expressed interest in some of my art, and he wanted to include one of my paintings among surprise gifts for her. Doesn’t mesh with my sense of reality, but just in case this might be legit, I sent a link to my online store where one can buy archival prints without risk because there’s a return policy. Payment is done via PayPal.
When I got the reply, I didn’t have to sniff around. A half-decomposed fish landed in my lap. The ostensible buyer wanted to pay by check; he wanted to buy one of my physical paintings; the transaction needed to take place urgently; and there was an excuse as to why I wouldn’t ship the work to him, but rather give my address where his “shipping agent” could come pick it up. There was an immediate requirement for my full name, address, and cell phone number.
I did a little research, and this is a KNOWN SCAM! Here’s an excerpt from the useful site, ART SCAMS.
Example #1 of an email scam aimed at artists…
Subject: Art work Enquiry
Hope this message finds you well,i came across some lovely and creative artworks on your site while searching for good artworks and I will like to buy creative artworks out of your stock. (The email then references specific works by the artist.)
I will be happy to have this selected artworks hanged in our new home. What is the least price? We are travelling from our USA home to our new apartment in London,uk .Regarding payment,I will be happy to pay you with a certified Travellers cheque/moneyorder/cashiers cheque . An urgent reply we be appreciated.Thanks.
Kindly don’t bother to include the shipping cost because i have a private shipper hat will arange for the pick up of the art work in your location once you have cleared the payment in your bank,they are in charge of moving our other house interior decor to our new home.I await your contact details to make out the payment to you asap.
And here is the inquiry I received. They forgot to put my name in the field for “name” on their scam template.
Thanks for the message, I must tell you I am very much interested in
the immediate purchase of the piece to surprise my wife. If you’d like
to know, I’m relocating soon and our anniversary is fast approaching.
So I’m trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise
one.she likes The Bolero Shield of original painting I am buying
yours as part of gifts to her Kindly email me the asking price asap.
I’m okay with the price, I think it’s worth it anyway, so 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 1932 Ford ROADSTER and some personal effect) will contact
you to arrange pick-up.I would have handled this much differently but,
at the moment, am on training voyage to the Philippines with new hires
who are fresh from graduate school. I would have come to purchase the
piece myself but won’t be back for another couple of weeks.
PS: In the meantime, kindly forward your full name (you want the check
payable to), cell phone no. and contact Home address where a check can
be mailed to, so I can get the
check prepared and have it mailed out to you asap.
It has all the red flags, according to ARTSCAM:
A few tell-tale signs to look for in any email you receive from a prospective buyer: misspelled words, poor grammar, and an urgent overseas buyer (particularly one from Nigeria). They also typically want to make the shipping arrangements themselves or have someone pick the work up for them, rather than have you ship it to them. More often than not, you can do an internet search on the fraudulent person’s name or email address and find other people who have received similar emails from them.
Yes, indeed. A search of his email turned him up in a list of attempted email scams on artists.
The way this SCAM works, if someone actually takes the bait, is that they try to send you a payment for MORE than the actual cost, and then get you to send them back the difference via Western Union. They collect your payment, and theirs bounces.
You’d have to be really gullible to send them money.
So, artists, beware of the art scams, and don’t get your hopes up when someone is trying to rip you off. To find out more, the site I referenced before seems pretty good. Just click on their logo below to visit.
12 replies on “Someone tried to scam me.”
A good public service post. Do you think that a bell should ring when a buyer makes no comment about the artwork they’re supposedly interested in? Wouldn’t they express something about what they like about a work that they’re prepared to pay for and ship to their home?
Well, you’d think they’d bother to put my name in there as well, after “Dear” and before the comma. I think they cast the net wide in the hopes of snaring a few suckers.
I can’t believe people still try to do this! What a world we live in…sad.
Sounds like something right off of Cragslist!
he did the same to me , erm, I’m Jeff Roland from France, artist too, and i love your work , Eric. No , no i am not going to send a shipping agent 😉 haha, but i was pondering that at least , he caused me to come across your work, which is the best thing about it all.
For the record, my personal answer to his first scam email :
You’re very cute but you should realize that you’re all over the web in art scams topics ! at lest take a moment to change the content of the message you send to every artist.
best to your wife , your Ford 1932 Roadster and your shipping agent ( get a grip, nobody calls anybody in charge of shipping this way, i suggest go between )
This said , keep looking at paintings , it might bring sense to you.
All the best , Eric , and I am keeping in my book your work and website , cause i’m also a curator and will remember you .
Hi Jeff. Glad you like my art! Ah, we have a mutual friend and admirer in Senior Collins! Too bad you had to set him straight.
Thank you for this post! He just contacted me through my website, and I had the same reaction…it just didn’t feel right (mostly because the email didn’t mention the piece by name in the body, it was just in the subject line, taken from the file name of the image). So I searched his name, and came up with this post. What a jerk. I won’t be responding. Thanks again.
Thank you Eric. I got the same letter entitled “artwork needed” from the same “Senior Collins.” very smelly. I googled it ’cause I have a lot of international friends but it was weird from the start.
Glad to see your post. Your work is very interesting.
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Yes, I just got another email from Senior Collins yesterday!
Well I got as far as sending them my address and phone number before I realized this must be something fishy. Since I did give them my address and phone, is there something I should do next. I already wrote them a reply email telling them our emails would be sent to the police. If something comes in the mail, who do I give it to? Thanks.
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Since they are running a scam you have no obligation to do anything. They probably aren’t working in your country and never had any intention of picking up your art. If they send you a check, it’s bogus. They’ll probably leave you alone once you let the know you are on to the scam. Logically they should simply move on to another target, of which they must have very many.
The company is Collins and Kent international run by Michael donnan and Ben Morley, Rannie Bradley in Hong Kong. They have closed down and run off with investors money