Saturday, May 19, 2018

Being approached by an art scammer

Last week I got an email from a stranger asking to buy two pieces of my art. Would I please email him photos of a few that were available so he could choose? Of course, I said. He picked two and asked the price. $175 each, I said, and he said fine. He'd send me a check and then have them picked up.

I was a tiny bit suspicious but only because his emails were poorly written and that seemed both unfair and unkind of me, so I set the suspicions aside. We texted back and forth about the check, which he was sending with tracking. It wasn't a personal check and that was fine too. All that seemed good.

Then the check arrived. The return address on the postal form was Dow Chemical, which seemed odd. And instead of the $350 we'd agreed on, it was made out for $1,450.60. I was fooled for about 5 minutes. Had he decided to generously pay me a lot more? Then I noticed that the check, from City Bank, had no watermark and that the word "Offical" was misspelled.

I knew about such scams, of course, but had never heard of them with art work. My credit union was amazed by how shoddy the fake check was (it would never have scanned through their machine). They took it, my email correspondence with "Michael Freeman," and his phone number to pass along to their fraud department.

Curiously, I wasn't angry about this, just very sad. Sad that I had wasted a fair amount of time communicating with this guy and even sadder that he wasn't really interested in my art.

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