If you are an Artist with an email address (or, photographer, florist, service provider) please read this:
This above site tracks a common email scam targeted at artists (and applies to all other service professions).
I’m posting the last several scam attempts I’ve received emails, in the hopes they’ll help someone avoid the same bullshit scam. If I have time, I enjoy stringing the scammers along and I try to keep the dialog going.
Gmail has been doing a better job of flagging them as spam/phishing, so I’m not sharing messages I find in the spam folder.
These are listed in chronological order from when I received them. As of late, most of these messages are coming from Kansas or Texas (as shown in the email headers).
Sender: Russell Turner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ART PIECE NEEDED
Hello… I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to my wife’s birthday which is just around the corner. I stormed on some of your works which i found quite impressive and intriguing; I must admit you are doing quite an impressive job and good at what you do.
I would like to purchase a piece of your works as a surprise gift for my wife in honor of her forthcoming 50th birthday. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works, with their respective prices and sizes. My budget for this is within the price range of $500 to $2000.
I would also like to know if you accept check as a means of payment.
Sender: paul moore <email@example.com>
Subject: Art Inquiry
Greetings… I am Paul from Snyder Texas, I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary which is just around the corner. I came across some of your works which i found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit your doing quite an impressive job. You are undoubtedly good at what you do.
With that being said, I would like to purchase some of your works as a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works, with their respective prices and sizes, which are ready for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $1500 to $5000.
I look forward to reading from you in a view to knowing more about your pieces of inventory. As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept check as a means of payment.
What’s interesting about “paul” is this account has a real avatar associated with it.
I sent a zip file with an animated cartoon in it, and the following:
Subject: Re: Art Inquiry
Mar 13, 2019, 5:01 AM
Mar 13, 2019, 7:01 PM am not able to access the folder…..
paul moore <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sender: Captain Thomas <Thomasfred600600@gmail.com>
Subject: Art Piece Inquiry !!?
Top of the Morning to you, I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes some of your art 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 art work for sales.(Thomasfred600600@gmail.com) Regards Thomas
Sender: Michael Van <email@example.com>
I am interested in your artwork and can you send me attachment of available artwork
Is there anything you in particular you want?
Yes, please! Can you email me attachment of your artwork that is available and pricing along with size.Please let me know how best to contact you promptly,i will prefer any original works that are available,I will want any attachment of your recent or available art work so can choose one best work for me
Gosh this is exciting! Thank you! I’ve attached three paintings, each with the prices. They are approximately 3’x4′ (NOTE: they were literally photos of garbage).
They look great! I have viewed your attachment, I found this work interesting(the first attachment ), How much are you asking for it and is it available?Will you accept bank check?,I wish to have this work ASAP.
Tell me, does anyone actually fall for this scam? I suppose they do, since I keep getting these emails.
What are you talking about?
Sender: alexis brian < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED
My name is Alexis Brian from Califonia.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 receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you. I am very much interested in the purchase of the piece (in subject field above) to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.
Thanks and best regards
Sender: Patrick Walter email@example.com
My name is Patrick Walter from Ohio.. 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 receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you.. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales..
Thanks and best regards..
Sender: Skip Hauf <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am interested in your artwork and will like more details about your
available artwork.,I will be glad if you can send me an attachment of
an available artwork or email me a website to view your available
718 487 9204
Artwork is attached. Here is my website https://www.flickr.com/photos/spazticus/
Thanks for the interest!
After a good look at your website,i found this work interesting(the
third attached picture on portrait),May i know their pricing and there
Any additional information about the artworks will be highly of
assistance, will you accept bank check?,,I wish to have these works, I
hope this goes well with you.
please write me back asap.
Sender: Joel Chandler <email@example.com>
Subject: Interested in purchasing Artwork.
Hi, good morning. I,m Joel Chandler from Lansing Michigan . I was looking for some artwork online and i found your contact while searching. I will like to purchase some of your work for my wife as a surprise gift for our 10th Anniversary. Please kindly send some pictures and prices of some of your art which are ready for immediate sales within a price range of $500- $5000. I look forward to hearing a lot more about any available piece in your inventory ready for immediate sales.
Thanks and best regards.
These are coming in more frequently. I downloaded photos of shoes, bananas and raccoons. And then I wondered, what happens if I don’t send any photos at all? Here is my response, with no photos attached:
Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece (The Fruit of your loom ) If you’d like to know, I’m relocating out of state to Ottawa soon and our wedding anniversary is fast approaching. So I’m trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise.
As regarding payment, I would like to inform you, that my wife handles the family credit card/bank and Paypal transaction. So i would authorize a check to you for the payment as soon as i have your full name and contact address (preferably for USPS delivery no P.O box). Also, as soon as you receive the check and it clears your bank, my shipping agent who is also moving my personal effect will contact you to arrange shipping/pick up of the piece from you (this is to avoid my wife receiving it, if been shipped directly to my address which would ruin the surprise for this event). You both have to sign a proof of pick up at the most.
I would have handled this much differently if I’d been at home but i am actually going offshore and won’t be back for another couple of weeks, and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction… trying to kill two birds with a stone. :-)
Have a Positive Day!
Clearly, he didn’t look at the bananas. Now, I’ll start mixing up the names.
My shipping agent is due in the U.S sometime this week. So i will contact a client of mine to issue out a check which will include my shipping agent fees to you right away. This is done to avoid delay or any inconvenience that may arise from his part and to allow check to clear before pick up. However, courtesy demand i must first appeal to your self-interest and ask for your help in remitting the overage (after deducting your fee for the piece) to the shipping agent as soon as the check clears. I would have handled this much differently if I’d been at home but am a bit pressed for time as our anniversary is fast approaching and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction… Kindly deduct any IRS tax incurred on the overage before giving the balance the shipping agent. As i do not want you to involve any of your personal funds in this transaction that is why all fund are made available to you. They are not sending any bill or hold you responsible for the payment of my shipping contract with them. I am really sorry for the mix up and will appreciate if you get back to me asap to know if i can entrust you with this transaction. Many thanks and talk to you soon,
Thanks for the message, i would have come purchase the piece my self but at the moment am on a training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean, (i’m an Ocean engineer) and i won’t be back in couple of weeks. Don’t have cash to expedite this transaction that’s why the check am going to authorize will include both piece and shipping fee, i am very sorry for the mixed up. I await for your quick responds to know maybe i can still move on with this purchase. Many thanks.
What does an Ocean Engineer do? Design things for the ocean? Interesting job!
Can you send a check to the shipping agent, and a check to me? That will make it easier.
Thanks for the message, yes we do design equipment needed for a marine research. Have already contact a client of mine to issue out a check to you, i will get back to you with the tracking number as soon as possible. many thanks and talk to you soon.
Sender: daniel hopkins firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: pic inquiries
Thanks and best regards
I responded on 10/23/2017 by sending a zip file with 3 random images from the web that are nothing like my art, and I made up titles for them. I’m particularly proud of permanent wax oil stick on frisket board. I also copied “daniel’s” general tone. I wanted to see if they even bother looking at the images.
Sender: Klien Moon <email@example.com>
Subject: PIECE INQUIRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Can you pay with paypal?
and then, because you never know:
Hi Mr. Moon,
You didn’t answer me – will you pay with PayPal? I’ll need a $1000 deposit to start.
Sender: Jefferson Alexei <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I’m Jefferson Alexei from Miami, Florida. I was looking for some artwork online and i found your contact while searching. I will like to purchase some of your work for my wife as a surprise gift for our 20th anniversary. Kindly send some pictures and prices of some of your other art which are ready for immediate purchase within the price range of $500- $5000, I could be flexible with price. So I hope to hear a lot more about any available piece in your inventory ready for immediate sale.Thanks
Sender: Michael & Melissa Smith <email@example.com>
Subject: ARTWORK IS NEEDED
My name is Michael Smith from CA. 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 receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you. I am very much interested in the purchase of the piece to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.
Thanks and best regards,
By now I’ve seen enough of these, so I play along:
I presume you can pay with PayPal?
Tell your wife hello from me!
Hello Jim, i will be making my payment by check.. Let me know if this works for you..
Money orders are fine. Once they clear, I can mail the art.
‘Steve Acevedo,’ writes to me from firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
My name is Steve Avendano. I was looking for some artwork on-line and i searched for artists which your name came up. I am impressed and amazed with your works, : ) You are doing a great job. I must tell you, I will like to purchase some of your work for my wife as a surprise gift for our 20th anniversary.
Please I would greatly appreciate if you could possibly recommend few available work in your inventory within price range $500- $2000 ready for immediate sale (I can be flexible with price though). So you will be hearing from me lots more. However, i am on a training voyage (offshore the North Atlantic Ocean) to Russia and won’t be back for another couple of weeks. So email would be the fastest way to reach me though.
Thanks and best regards,
Playing along, I wrote:
What do you think your wife might like?
Thanks for the message, I would greatly appreciate if you can recommend any available piece within price range $500-$2000 from your inventory ready for immediate sale that can serve as a gift for a 20th wedding anniversary.
Please kindly send your recommendations. My wife is strongly drawn to the blue-green mix of turquoise. I will be delighted if you can work things within my budget (any size). Kindly email images and prices of your available works ready for immediate sale.
Thanks and blessing,
Knowing what’s coming, I ask:
Can you use PayPal?
Using a different email address, they deliver the scam:
I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of your piece. If you’d like to know, I’m relocating to the Philippines soon and our wedding anniversary is fast approaching. So kindly send your recommended piece of work.
As regarding payment, I would like to inform you, that my wife handles the family credit card/bank issues. So in order not to leave any clue to her for the surprise, i would authorize a client of mine who is owing me an outstanding debt that amount to a considerable sum to issue out a check to you for the payment, as soon as i have your full name and contact address (preferably for FedEx delivery no P.O box). Also, as soon as you receive the check and it clears your bank, my shipping agent who is also moving my personal effect will contact you to arrange shipping/pick up of the piece from you (this is to avoid my wife receiving it, if been shipped directly to my address which would ruin the surprise for this event). You both have to sign a proof of pick up at the most.
I would have handled this much differently if I’d been at home but am a bit pressed for time myself and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction… trying to kill two birds with a stone. :-)
Have a Positive Day!
PS: In the meantime, kindly get back to me with your cell phone no. so i can try and call you later as the phones may be working better when this storm passes through.
You can identify the scam with their inability to pay with a credit card – that alone should warn you that something is phishy.
The following came from
Karen Langley firstname.lastname@example.org
subject: Artwork Acquire??
I am emailing to inquire about availability of artwork for sale in your gallery/inventory, if you can ship international and also if you are able to process Visa and Master Card for payment.
Let me know so that i can communicate with you on the artworks that interest me then you can also indicate to me which of the arts are sold and which are available on your website furthermore you can respond with your recently updated website.
I will be looking forward to reading from you soon.
The next one
Dorothy Brooks email@example.com
subject: “Art Piece”
My name is Dorothy Brooks. I’m in the process of moving to Italy to expand my business field. I just bought a house in Milan, Italy and I’m interested in collecting an artwork for a space within my house to make it unique and beautiful.
Can I look through your website so as to pin point my choice , request for a quote and more information?
I look forward to hearing back from you soonest.
Here is another one, from
Alison McCoy firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Alison McCoy. I found your profile on the internet. I am interested in purchasing an artwork from you for the decoration of my guest room at my new residence in Munich, Germany. Would appreciate if you can send me few pictures of the works you have available for sale so that I can make an easy choice of mine. Better still, send me a web link where I can have a view of your recent works.
I look forward to read back from you.
I’m sorry I’m just now responding – this message was in my spam folder.
I only have a few items in my shop at the moment: http://jimdoran.art/shop/
Just about everything I make is for sale, and I have a lot of work in my studio. If there’s something in particular you are interested, please let me know.
Thanks for writing!
OKAY JIM THE SPAM FOLDER IS A GREAT WARNING UGH
Thank you for the email and sorry for the little delay in response. I went through your website and found the work “Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle, 4.25″ x 3″ x 1″” interesting. Can I have a detailed information about the work, its availability and pricing? As soon as we reach a concrete agreement on pricing, I can instruct my p.a to process a money order to you for the payment of the work so that my mover can have it picked up along with my properties that are to be moved to Munich.
I await your email soonest.
Still slow, I said:
Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle was made in 2011, and is one of my earlier dioramas. It’s one of the most popular pieces on my Web site (according to Google). http://jimdoran.art/art/like-a-fish-needs-a-bicycle
I almost called it There’s Always a Bigger Fish, but that seemed too obvious.
I’m asking $XXX for it, plus priority flat rate shipping. Thanks, again, for writing.
Nice to read back from you. I’m ok with the price of the work and I’m interested in its immediate purchase. Can you provide me with your full name as you want it appeared on the money order, your full address which includes(street name, house number, city, state and zip code) to ensure safe delivery and your working phone number where my mover can easily reach you at. As soon as I get these details, I will fwd it to my p.a so that he can go ahead with the processing of the money order to you.
I’m happy to have this piece purchased as it would look good on the wall of my guest room.
I remember thinking something was odd, but kept it going:
You can use Paypal, which is the fastest/easiest way to complete this transaction. There’s a paypal button to buy this item here:
If you really prefer a money order:
Owings Mills, MD 21117
I can be reached at work during the day here: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Thanks so much! I’m glad this art is going to a good home.
HERE IT COMES:
Thanks for the info. I will process a money order to you because I can’t make use of paypal or my credit card because of my recent move. I spoke with my mover this morning as regards the pick up he has to make at your end. To my understanding, he has insufficient funds to get to your place for the pick up and to also get some major errands done. So I have decided to let my p.a have an overdraft check sent to you. And when you have the check cashed, you can easily deduct the cost of the piece I purchased from you and get the remaining funds across to my mover so that things can go as planned. I really do hope I can trust you on this. Please give me your words on this arrangement so that I can further instruct my p.a to issue out the check to you today or tomorrow unfailingly.
I look forward to hearing from you soonest.
I’m sorry, but I am not willing to meet anyone in person, nor can I
“get the remaining funds across” to your mover. So, here’s what I can
do, if you are able:
If you send me $XXX.XX via paypal, I’ll mail the art anywhere in the USA.
If you want me to ship it outside the USA, then send me the mailing
address and I’ll calculate shipment.
I understand if you can’t complete the transaction right now.
I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO HELP ME ON THIS.
No need to shout – it just seems a little phishy. :) And it looks like I was right!