Friday, January 28, 2011

I’m being

The .com is a joke; the being scammed is for real.
Here’s the story… it is happening now!
I received an email

-----Original Message-----
From: Kathy Barnes
Sent: Jan 13, 2011 11:09 AM
Subject: Artworks Inquiry..

Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creatives works on your web site and i will like you to get back with more details if they are still available for purchase. Overseeing the Harbor and Woolworth Building and friends

I will appreciate an urgent reply.

Best Regards, Kathy.

Every artist finds this very flattering and highly exciting; I am no exception. I responded

Thank you for your interest in my paintings. The two, you asked about, are popular. “Overlooking the Harbor” is/was going into an exhibit scheduled to be hung today. If you want it before March 31, it can be removed from the show. The “Woolworth and Friends” is currently hanging in a show due to be taken down at the end of January. I can ask to remove it earlier if it is urgent.

I will do my best to get them to you if you want them asap. Thanks again for your interest.

To which I received the following

Hi , Thanks so much for your response to my query about those creative works. I will like to proceed with the purchase of both pieces . Can you pls confirm the actual size and price of the two pieces so i can know how best to proceed. I will also like to know what inspire you to make the pieces.

I will look forward to hearing from you soon, Best Regards, Kathy.

I responded with prices and asked about framing. Her following email disclosed that she was in London for her twin sister’s wedding and pregnant. Also telling me her husband had been transferred to South Africa and would send me a check, it was important to her that they be framed and ready for hanging in their new home and that the transfer company “moving their home decors” would be in touch about picking up the paintings.

I sent a reply with a MS Word file of my artist statement and wrote to the Director of the Exhibits at the Art Students’ League asking if the painting could be removed early. Leah, the Director, said she was suspicious and to be careful, she had heard about art scammers from South Africa. Not daunted, but somewhat doubtful, I continued my email dialog with Kathy.

The very next email from Kathy apologized for the lapse of time, which was about 5 days explaining she had been in the hospital with a near miscarriage. She said she was ok and wanted to proceed. My response was sympathetic and explained that the second painting would be available for me on the 26th and both could be taken to the framer in Queens the next day. If you remember, that was the night of the 19” snowfall. I began wondering if I wanted to spend the money to frame them without seeing any money up front.

Simultaneously, the suggestion was given to me to Google Kathy’s email address. The revelation was amazing. There were multiple blogs and Facebook entries about this very scammer. Googling the address she gave me for South Africa revealed a treasure trove of more complaints and scathing condemnations of people treating artists of all people this way.

What the scammers do.. is… send a check for 4 to 5 times the amount in question. When the artist reports the error, they say, “cash the check and give the difference to the transfer company.” Meanwhile, the check bounces and the transfer company in cahoots with the scammers has the paintings and the money.

This made my day. I was not disappointed about not selling the paintings. It was more exciting to be in the midst of a scam and have this story to write. Knowing I wanted to string things along to some sort of grand conclusion instead of letting it just slip away with me feeling somewhat duped, I emailed her that I couldn’t go to the framer as planned because of the weather, I’d go on Friday. I wanted to see the check. Feeling a little more vengeful, I started to call the FBI then realized it is too small a deal to be of interest to them. Plus the internet is full of stories about the same folks; this isn’t really something new. Friday I will email her that the framer has gone to his country home to shovel snow.

Maybe by then the check will come.

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