I wanted to share what just happened to me this week. I was out of town for the weekend and came home Monday night to an email sent to me from my contact page. You know, the page where you can leave a message for me if you don’t have my email. Anyway, the instant I read it my intuition and gut reaction was this is a scam.

Here is what the person wrote to me on September 10th.

Hi Jaime, I’m interested in your piece (Sweet Serenity) 36″x12″ original painting of lotus flowers, $350.00. Email me if you still have it available for purchase.

Now, to some this may not seem like a scam at all. If fact, it sounds pretty legit right? They even spelled my name correctly which my close friends don’t even do! Well, against my gut but giving it the tiniest benefit of the doubt, I went ahead and wrote the person back – his “name” was Christian Page just so you know. I replied on September 11th:

Christian, 

Yes, I still have “Sweet Serenity” available. You can buy it on my webpage with PayPal. Just click add to cart from my online shop and then go to cart and finish the purchasing process.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you,
Jaime Haney

So, my tone was rather short. I did this because I was sure it was a scam but in the remotest chance that there really was someone who wanted to purchase a painting, I didn’t want to just ignore the request. I’ve gotten scam requests before, but they are usually immediately recognizable with their improper grammar and outlandish tales. Things like having someone to move their things to another country; wanting to pay more for the item; someone else handling their money affairs; it goes on and on.

I didn’t hear anything back. I thought, okay maybe it was a real request and they changed their mind. Then I thought maybe they were having a hard time with my online shop, but I didn’t write back. I’m not desperate, after all.

The painting in question... "Sweet Serenity"

Here’s a little side note: I belong to several different art groups online as well as in person. Birds of a feather flock together type of thing. I mentioned it in a group and they all agreed it was probably a scam, but to go ahead and this time insert a link to the painting they wanted in the email for easier purchasing. If they won’t use it for whatever reason, it’s a scam. I thought right! I hadn’t included the link before. I also thought it might had gone to their spam folder.

Fast forward to last evening. I get another email sent the same way, through my contact page, and it is the same message they had sent Sunday night.

Hi Jaime, I’m interested in your piece (Sweet Serenity) 36″x12″ original painting of lotus flowers, $350.00. Email me if you still have it available for purchase.

So, I reply once again only this time slightly more friendly with:

Yes, I still have it Christian. Here is a link to purchase it. If you are not shipping to the US, please let me know before you purchase.
Contact me if you run into problems with the online store. Thank you for your interest!
Sincerely,
Jaime

Finally this morning, Friday September 15th, I’m getting ready to take my son to school and saw a notification on my phone that it was Christian Page again. I get a snippet of what the email is, like seven maybe eight words of what is in the email. I didn’t have time to open it and read it, but from those eight words I could tell instantly it was a scam. I don’t know of anyone who isn’t trying to scam or be dishonest who opens a sentence with “Thanks for the message, I must tell you…”

I got home and read the email. It was pretty lengthly, too. There it was… full on “Class A” SCAM. Here’s what he replied with:

Jaime,

Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece. 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.

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. Also, as soon as you receive the check and it clears your bank, my shipping agent who is also moving my Truck and 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 would ruin the surprise for this event). You both have to sign a proof of pick up at the most. So you don’t bother on shipping, I am okay with the price($350.00), i think its worth it anyways.

I would have handled this much differently if I’d been at home 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, and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction.. So trying to kill two birds with a stone.

Regards,

Christian

PS: In the meantime, kindly get back to me with your full Name as you want it to appear on the check, house address where you want the piece delivered by courier service including your zip code, so the check can be sent right away.

Wow. These scammers are getting sneakier. The grammar was better, except a few spots, than I’ve been seeing as of late. But come on… really? What man first of all gives you all this information? Certainly not any that I know. An ocean engineer? Really. Is that even thing?

Now I say man but I guess it could be a woman writing it, unlikely though. I remember years ago watching some sort of show on TV like 20/20 or Dateline where they set the scammers up. They had video of these men just sitting out in the open with their laptops in cafe’s writing scam letters to people right and left. I think in this case it was telling them of needing money and how they would reward them handsomely if they sent money in. Sadly, a lot of people got scammed as this was a new thing going around and they preyed on people who were willing to be helpful. The reporters managed to get one of the scammers to come inside a hotel room and tell them what was going on.

Back to my story.

I wasn’t surprised or disappointed, as I said earlier my gut told me it was a scam. I think most people these days are savvy to purchase something online. But it does flare up the anger I have for injustice and just plain cheating. This guy spent several days on me for this. Nearly every artist I know that has an online presence has been contacted at one time or another for a scam similar to this.

So I thought I’d have a bit of fun and write him back.

Oh this is so wonderful! I’m so pleased.

You’re wife must be so lucky! How about I wrap it up real nice with a bow and everything? Plus, I’ll throw in another painting free of charge!
Also, how about I just give you my social security number right now and empty my bank account so I can send you the cash. Would you want all of my blank checks as well? I’ll make sure to send them right away. I’ll just need your physical address where you would like for me to send you all the money I’ve ever earned in my life.
You’re so kind to have contacted me dear Christian. I’ll make sure to share your kindness with all of my artist friends so they too can be waiting to give you all they own as well.
Best wishes and smooches,
Jaime

I feel artists are easy targets for those who scam. It’s a rush and a great feeling to sell a painting or to know someone likes your work enough to pay for it. Plus, it’s hard enough to make a living as an artist without someone wanting to scam us.

We are basically selling what is considered a luxury item, but if you ask me art is more of a need than a want. What else besides the arts (including music, poetry, dance, etc.) that can let you escape from your everyday life and transport you to another world with joy and pleasure if just for a short while? Art does that. Everything manmade we touch, an artist has designed it. We need the artists in this world. We sure don’t need more people trying to get something for free.

I hope you enjoyed my little comic relief to this reoccurring and very common problem. More than anything though, I hope an artist or a friend of an artist reads this and shares it so no one else ever gets caught up in a scam like this without knowing.

So please share this post with anyone you want to save from future scams. My artist friends shared their experiences, that’s how I know it’s a scam.

Have a great weekend and don’t get scammed!


paintings by Jaime Haney

Learn more about me on the ‘About’ page in the menu at the top. I’m an artist – a painter mostly and an avid gardener. I paint a variety of subjects including birds, koi fish, my gardens, ponds and flowers as well as anything having to do with nature especially trees and tropical scenes. I also enjoy painting abstracts and have started created more and more of them. My most favorite thing to try to achieve in my painting is is mystery.

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