“In Touch with My Gut Feelings – and Google!”
“Are you nuts?” my sister wrote by email, “Call him. You can set it up to take a credit card on PayPal.”
I must admit here that my family sees me as a bit paranoid – like the time I looked out my bedroom window and saw a generic white van with “City Cable Company” in plain, black letters parked in front of my house. There was no such company with that name in town and I knew the guy climbing the pole was listening in to my phone conversations…(full details of this story are not available at this time.)
No, something bothered me and I was the stubborn skeptic.
The email I received from him went as follows:
I will like to purchase some of your art works for my home in Middlesex (United Kingdom),and i will like you to get back to me with listings and costs of your works available.I will be able to choose the ones i want or need.Kindly get back to me asap.
Uxbridge,Middlesex UB8 3PH
[I included his email address so that all of you other leery artists who are about to be scammed but decided to Google his email address will hopefully hit this site.]
Rather than respond in full, I cautiously emailed and asked where he saw my work and which link was it. He replied:
I saw your contact on a world artists directory.I will be looking forward to read back from you.Thanks.
My first suspicion was the email address he contacted me through. It was my old French email address – one that I do not use on my current sites. As for the world artists’ directory, I have no images of my work on any of those sites (not that I know of anyway) and WHY would anyone be interested in art he has not seen by someone he does not know or has not heard of?
But I shrugged that off and started to email him with images, links and prices. I stopped in my tracks, went to Google and typed:
“TYPES OF ART SCAMS OVERSEAS”
I hit the following site – Art Scam Email – Artists Resources Wiki. It is full of good information:
KEY SIGNS THAT YOU ARE BEING SCAMMED:
1. The offer sounds too good to be true e.g. ‘buyer’ wants to purchase a number of items at once
2. The email has grammatical mistakes or is poor english
3. There is a sense of urgency in the message
4. There is some special arrangement requested, e.g. special shipping agent
5. You are asked to send money/pay in some form e.g. shipping fee, transaction fee – remember it is you that is selling the item!
6. The email address is from yahoo/hotmail or other major webmail account
7. The ‘buyer’ has missed some fundamental detail, e.g. is asking about your paintings but your are a sculptor, or asks for prices that are clearly on your website.
8. Something doesn’t feel quite right (trust your instincts!)
Richie fell into too many of these categories. The site above suggested Googling the sender’s email address.
Whoa! There he was. I clicked on a link and saw someone by another name using the exact same line about looking for artworks for his home in Middlesex. From there, I clicked on to other sites by artists – both victims and skeptics – and finally found Richie’s name documented. It seems he played a game with a cashier’s check and, as one poster wrote, he filled the dubious role of “Catch Me If You Can”.
OK, so it’s a scam and he’s a scam artist. I won’t have any Leedys hanging on the wall in Middlesex but hopefully, some people (including my old buddy Richie) will hit this site and learn something.
Now, here’s some advice for Richie:
Richie, you’re a low-life scumbag. You are obviously uneducated and not playing with a full set of paints. Number one: Change your name, you idiot! I know it’s probably too soon after the last episode of The Sopranos but – RICHIE DELSALVATORE ?? – Do you really think I’m going to believe your’e a nice country gentleman from Middlesex and NOT a sleazy, petty thief from New Jersey? (No offense to all of you Italian Americans out there…) Why not try to fit the name to the location – like “Clive Anderson” or something as such? Number two: You’re really neither – judging by your bad English – “I will be looking forward to read back from you”? You’re probably that same stupid Nigerian who says he needs a person to hold his millions. And number three: My God, Chap, at least vary your line! I would not have found you so fast if – despite changing your name to Peter Olson – you used the exact line – word-for-word! Of course, you are too stupid and we all know that. Number four: Call your third grade teacher (or whoever was your last teacher in school) and get her to proofread your scam to check it for misspellings and errors. Finally, number five: I know your IQ won’t lead you down this path but learn to Google yourself – or your stupid alias anyway – whatever it is – then you’ll realize how many people have actually figured your scheme out and you will then understand why they are all saying such derogatory things about you.
Richie, I hope you end up serving as sculptural entertainment for some sweaty bloke in a UK prison. We certainly don’t want you over here!
I have complete faith in my gut feelings. And thanks to Google for confirming my suspicions!