Sunday, January 17, 2010

While I'm on the scamming topic

Okay, I guess I've just been a target lately. Makes me want to post every scam email I receive so other artists can get a sense of what these look like.

Here is one today:

Date: Sun, 17 Jan 2010 09:39:25 -0800 (PST)
From: Jessica Bianchi
Subject: Art Enquiry
To: undisclosed recipients: ;

I and my Cousin have interest in purchasing some piece of Art from your gallery hence i will like to know if you sell internationally (Belarus) and also if you accept (Credit Card) as a method of payment,if you do i want you to get back to me with your updated webpage, so that i can make choice of the Art to purchase from your gallery.
Your response is needed so that we can proceed.
I await your response.

Well, the TO field being undisclosed recipients was a dead give-away, that they don't even know if I HAVE a website with art and the usual poor email formatting and grammatical errors and the IP originated from San Mateo, CA not Belarus.

At least I don't even have to reply ONCE to this one!

Update: I decided to start my own page with advice on how to recognize these scam emails and also I am keeping a list of the scammers I get. I'm glad these are helping to reduce at least some people from falling victim to them. Wish there was a way to stop them but they are like pesky nat flies. You just have to keep swatting at them. Anyway, here is my own scam alert page. Stay safe!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Scam Email Directed at Artists

Here is an email I received recently. Typically I'm pretty good at identifying emails that are really Nigerian scam emails, but this one had me stumped because there IS a Rose Cole out of Santa Monica and I wasn't sure. I *hate* when I actually have to reply to one of these because then my email is open to being sold off as an "active" email. Darn. Anyway, below is the email and subsequent replies:
Date: Sun, 3 Jan 2010 02:09:45 -0800 (PST)
From: Rose Cole

I am so excited that I came across your artworks on internet search,I am interested in purchasing the following works from you (Two Cherries,Koi on the Move 2) from you.

Let me know if the artwork is still available and how much discounts you are willing to give?I will await your advise on how to proceed.Have a wonderful day.
[I replied with a proposed discount amount] Next email:
Dear Kathleen,
Sorry for the late reply,we have been busy with our movement to our new home.Well,i will be happy to proceed with the payment of the artwork.I will love to know prices when framed and unframed.Please advise.Regarding the shipment,i will inform our shipping agent that is moving our other home decors to get in contact with you via the shipping arrangement today.

Furthermore,do you do commission works?i will love to have a lovely work for my coming baby.Get back to me with your mailing address and your phone number so that i will be able to make an arrangement for the payment as soon as possible.I will await your quick response.
[Okay, bad typing And not capitalizing pronouns, but I still didn't have enough clues. I knew the Rose Cole I found online was out of Santa Monica and these emails were coming from a yahoo account in NY, but the emails referenced moving. So I wrote back one more time. I said I accept only paypal payments (which doesn't necessarily protect you, by the way - unless it is a verified account and you have delivery confirmation and even then, not always - sometimes PayPal will just keep the reversed payment no matter what) and that I do not work with any third party shippers except USPS Priority Mail. I did NOT provide my paypal email address nor did I provide my address and phone number as requested in the email. I also removed earlier references in the email to what items were even being requested to see what would happen.] Here is the final email which confirmed my suspicions:

Date: Sun, 10 Jan 2010 04:06:01 -0500

Dear Sir/Ma,
We have been contacted my Mrs Rose Cole to help
ship some of her items with her other house decors to her new
home.Kindly let us know the sizes,weight and name of the item we will
be moving from your place.

Sir/Ma,we will like you to get back to us the location of where we
will be picking up the item as soon as you have Mrs Cole's payment
with you.We will await your quick response.
Fred Anderson for Paramount Movers.
This email originated from an AOL account out of New York. Dear Sir/Ma (Ma, really?) kind of tipped the balance of clues. The icing on the cake of clues were that my response about third party shipper was ignored, that they didn't know what items were even being requested for shipment (I had removed references to them and the scammer had nothing to refer back to which would individualize their scam), the exact same poor email formatting as Rose Cole, and finally referencing "Mrs. Rose Cole". Turns out a google search with Mrs. in the name turns up all kind of Nigerian scam emails with "Mrs. Rose [and then random last names]. Winning the lottery, death of wealthy family member, job opportunity in foreign country, etc. Unfortunately, mine was individualized enough that I couldn't blow it off in the first two rounds. Very unfortunate.

Hopefully sharing this will help other artists not fall into providing scammers any more personal information about yourself than is absolutely necessary in order to clarify whether the request to purchase your art is legitimate or not.

Update: check for more advice and a list of scammers emailing me on my scam alert page.

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