Friday, July 24, 2009

More Art Scam History

As we have said, there is nothing new under the sun., an arts website with an extensive artists directory posted this in 2005.

Having the most effective art directory on the Internet has its downside. Our high listing on search engines and general use by a wide range of visitors also has the effect of attracting services of dubious value as well as outright scams designed to rob us. Adding them up since September, 32 artists have written to mention peculiar offers they have been made for paintings displayed on their websites. Yesterday's letter from Constance Hartle of Juneau, Alaska, tells the story:

"An online buyer agreed to purchase a painting for $250. They then mailed a cashier's check for $4,000. Acknowledging their mistake, they asked me to send, via Western Union, the remainder to the shippers. When I wrote back, they decided to buy an additional few paintings to make the sale up to $1,000. Well, the check turned out to be counterfeit, but if I hadn't queried it, and had merely deposited it, and sent the change on my own check, I would have been out $3000. Normally it might take as long as 12 days for a check to clear. It's pretty goofy, but the prospect of someone wanting to make a purchase does cloud the mind."

Constance Hartle makes a good point as to why artists are easily scammed. Our ego is stroked when we get contacted by potential buyers. We would not be making art if we did not think it was salable.

If you do get contacted by potential buyers, beware of the danger signals. A sign of a scam is a cashiers check in an amount greater than you requested.

Your protection? Open a free PayPal account and insist that potential buyers pay directly into that account. Sure, PayPal will take a percentage off the top, but you are protected and potential scammers will have no possibility of gaining your personal information.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Scamming the Scammer

In a twist to the 419 Nigerian Scam, this enterprising person took the art of the scam to a whole new level.

Similar to Ebola Monkey Man, Derek Trotter responds to a scammer named John Boko and works on his greed.

This excerpt follows his emails to a scammer, promising a $25,000 scholarship to a promising artist. He actually got two original art works from the scammers.

A little bit twisted, but his posts provide the same sort of satisfaction you get from watching a Dirty Harry movie!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Nigerian 419 Scam

By now almost everyone that has an email account has been contacted by the Nigerian Minister of the Interior, or some other banker, deposed prince or government official with millions of dollars they want to launder.

Similar to the art scam which preys on our ego's, the Nigerian scam preys on greed. You might ask why these scammers continue to persist when almost everyone you know deletes the emails immediately?

It is a numbers game. These scammers send out five million emails a day. They only need to hook 3 or 4 people to make it pay off big.

The Ebola Monkey Man has an amusing website (not for the puritanical of mind) where he scams the scammers. This site is a wonderful way to waste an afternoon. Be prepared to laugh your ass off.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nothing new under the sun

The scam is certainly not anything new. ArtQuest reported on the scam as early as 2004:

Thursday, October 14, 2004
Ripping off Artists Online ArtQuest, an online gallery for artists is warning its members of an increase in scammers trying to rip artists off. Over the past few weeks they have had more than 15 members contact them in regards to scammers. Problems with cashiers checks (cheques), credit cards, and international money orders have been reported.

ArtQuest has started a list of art scammers, along with some information about avoiding these kind of people.

I personally get at least two emails per month from a Nigerian, first letting me know what paintings they like, then asking how they can pay immediately. Their name is different each time, so I hope no legitimate Nigerian art collector ever contacts me by email because they get deleted immediately.

Monday, July 20, 2009


This is an excerpt from an email art scammer that obviously is an amateur at it. He certainly did not put much effort into this email:

Name : frank mark
Email Address :
Message : Dear Artists My name is Frank Mark,I reside at 144 broad street,cumber land,R.I. 02864, USA?I came across your advert and am highly interested in Purchasing your artwork POSTED ON the sites which you offer for sale,Due to the fact that its been a long time have been searching for it. Please Kindly get back to me as soon as possible with the necessary answers to the question in mind. Are you the artist that owns it? The present condition? Your final asking price? And I will also like you to send me Pictures to enable me view what I intend to purchase I await your urgent response so that we can proceed further. Regards Frank Mark

Another Art Scam

Here is the text from another email art scam dated 4/17/09:

From: peter
------------- Message ------------
Hello to you out there. I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search,I am interested in purchasing some creative artworks from you let me know their various prices.and how much discounts are you going to give? I will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home in dublin. As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost.I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decoratives, We are travelling from our Dallas home to our new apartment as soon as possible.On Paying for the artworks,I will be glad to pay you with a Bank draft or Cashier check in Euro funds that can be easily cashed at your local bank,please let me know on how to proceed, Have a wonderful day..... Take Care, Mr peter bill...

VistaPrint Scam

The Consumer affairs website has this warning of a legal scam perpetrated by Vista Print, used by many artists for printing business cards and rack cards.

If you have ever used Vista Print for cards then you MUST read the information from the consumer affairs link.

It seems that this is a common occurrence - VistaPrint automatically opts you into a "rewards" program through an affiliate. The reward is that the affiliate cleans out your bank account or credit card! You are charged $9.95 a month for a program that supposedly saves you money. If you use a pop-up blocker, you do not even have a chance to opt out.

I learned of the scam from an artist forum as I was investigating the recent scam that involved many local artists from a Caroline Lewis, and other similar scams.


We have added a selection of links to the sidebar on the right. Please take time to peruse them.

An excellent website that we included is They offer excellent advice on avoiding being scammed:

Do you know how to protect yourself? Get the scoop on the latest Internet art scams and learn how to avoid becoming a victim...

Unfortunately, con artists are becoming more sophisticated and fraudulent activities are on the rise. Local police departments and federal agencies such as the FBI are overburdened with mounting cases of identity theft and fraud. Banks and shipping companies are also aware of these scams, but seldom intervene on your behalf. Thus, it is becoming increasingly important to learn how to protect yourself from these threats. While you can't entirely control whether you will become a victim, you can take some steps to minimize your risk.

Other variations of email scams

Here is an informative blog excerpt of other variations of the scam. They do not only target artists, but anyone selling items online:

I've been subject to a number of E-mail fraud attempts the last months.
These attempts differ from the common Nigeria letters were someone promises millions of dollars if you let them use your bank account to smuggle money out of this development country or that (but first you have to pay a fee to transfer the money). They are of course only out there to rob you of your money, Nigeria scams have actually led to violence on some occasions.

These other frauds are planned to work this way:

Someone contacts you and want to buy something rather expensive from you. They then want to pay with a check which due to one reasoning or another (often they claim that they got the check from a third party customer) is set to a higher sum than the price you set for your goods. Happily you go to your bank and cash in the check, and if the people in the bank are naive enough they give you cash for it right away. The people which claimed they wanted to buy your goods demand to get back the excess amount, which you, since you are an honest fellow, send to them. A few days later the bank people discover that the check of course is uncovered and demand the money back from you.
If the fraudulent people are really successful they will in the end get both your money and your goods.

Here are a few tell-tales of a fraudulent business proposal of this kind:
  • There's no real address in the message, and if you search the net for the names mentioned in the mail you will probably not get any relevant hits.
  • Find the originating IP-address in the mail and search for it (within quotation marks - as a phrase) on Google. You will probably get a lot of hits about "Mugu" and Nigeria scams - these are the same people.
  • The IP-addresses often originate from Nigeria or Great Britain. Check IP addresses with one of these:If you own a website you can use your .htaccess file to block entire countries from accessing your site with the information provided above. That might be justified if your site is targeted on specific parts of the world but be very careful and restrictive with the "deny from"-command.
  • A Yahoo E-mail account is almost always used.

    Here are a few scammer's addresses I've ran across:
  • It's almost always urgent.
You can protect yourself from this by:
  • Never, ever accept deals were the customer are eager to pay you a larger sum than you asked for.
  • Never accept checks as payment unless you really trust the one paying. Use PayPal for handling money online.
  • Never arrange meetings with these kind of people unless you bring your army with you and plan to use it.
here are a few authentic mails I've received (And no, they haven't managed to fool me, but they do sound pretty convincing at first don't they?):

Name: George Craige
Address:United Kingdom

Enquiry On Your Art Work

Good day to you,

I visited your site and i saw these fascinating artworks and i found some interest in :-

1. (City of the Spirits 2006)
2. (UPHILL IS GOOD 2005)

So , i will like to buy them for our new house in United Kingdom.

I must say you really doing a great job ,I have already contacted a shipping company that will be shipping them along with our other house decorations. Our shipping company will Pick-Up these items once i pay you .

I will be paying you with a Certified Check which will be easily cashed at your bank,
Please let me know your mind about this sales and tell the the price for each ? I will be looking forward to your response on how to proceed.


George Craige.

Name:anthony smith










My note: 1.5 million dollars - that's some bait! This scammer certainly takes the price. "Anthony Smith" is one of the most commonly used names in Nigeria-scams.


I am a private interior decorator located in the Netherlands . I have a client who's beenhearing of your works and is very much interested to buy any nice outdoor sculpture fordesigning a new home.
Do as much send me lists and prices of your available quality sculptures so that my clientcan be able to choose the best prefered one.
Awaiting your urgent response .
Many thanks
John Tofler


this is teresa store, i have visited your website and i am veryinterested in your items, i want you to kindly get back to me withbetter information so i can place my order in your store, and i wouldalso want you to advice me on your mode of payment. and for theshippment to lagos nigeria.
i want you to get back to me as soon as possible so that i can orderimmediatly.
awaiting to read from you.
best regards.
Mrs teresa.


From: rodrick stan

Question: hello max,
with reference to your advert,i hereby wish toindicate my interest in buying your dickhead tanks itstill available?if you are interested,contactme through my mail address.rod.............

My reply:

Hello there,

I can sell the Dickhead Tanks to you for $200 each, both (there are only two made) with freight ($50) included; $450.
Payment via PayPal ( ) is usually the easiest and safest way.



hello max,
I write to inform you that your price $450 has been accepted.However,my client made out a US certified cashiers check before he travelled to moscow for a diplomatic call,for a previous artwork and its shipment charges etc,but it was unfortunately sold.The amount on the check he deposited for the artwork before he left is bigger than what should be paid to you now, so the check is now meant for the total expenses which includes the purchase of your artwork,the pick up of the artwork from its present location and the shipping charges/other necessary shipping arrangements.So we want to know if we shall carry on with that.I will get back to you as soon as i conclude issues with him.Please get back to us as soon as you recieve this.

My response:

End of conversation.

Name:femi olu
Address:42,odududwa st

Dear sales,
My name is Femi Olu from Nigeria,I am America citizen here in Nigeria,and own this items store here in Lagos State Nigeria and I would like to order for this product from your store below:
Items: 3 Qtys

THE GOLDEN ROUTE, Oil and acrylic on wood, glossy varnish. 66 X 39 cm (25 X 15") Year 2004
Kindly mail me the cost and the shipping cost via UPS to Lagos StateNigeria,So as to have you paid with my credit card for you to chargefor the order urgent.
Hope to hear from you back urgent.
Best Regard,
Thanks you.
Femi Olu.

My note: This one is slightly different, it's not a check fraud. Instead the person behind it is fishing for my bank account number. "Femi Olu" went silent when I insisted on using PayPal for payment.

Name: Mr Peter

art gallery

Hello Artist,
How are you doing a at lover and i wish to get a very good work for my new appartment...I read your Ad and i am interested in buying your (painting work,) you still have for sale.Send me recent paintwork you have and there price list and let me know your last asking price on each if you will accept Bankers draft as means of payment.Get back to me with the request information or kindly call me phone +447760237989 asap if there is any question to ask and have a wonderful day.
Mr Peter....

Excerpt from the blog at Used by permission.

The Art Scam makes headlines

The art scam has been making headlines in Maine. Too bad our federal authorities are refusing to take any action on this nationwide epidemic. Please click the link, read the article, and listen to the audio report.

I initially reported this scam on my personal blog and was inundated with emails and phone calls from Texas to Maine. The FBI was completely disinterested when I contacted an agent in from the New Jersey office.

After being contacted by Darrell Bulmer from the Maine Arts Commission, I decided to manage this blog as a clearinghouse of art scam information.

Unfortunately, one Maine artist was scammed and is now out thousands of dollars:

Belfast-based artist Harold Garde was not so lucky. He got the same email from Caroline Lewis, and received a check for $5,000, which he promptly banked. Suspecting nothing, he then wired the money to pay for his art work to be shipped. "The package was not picked up and about two days later the bank notified me that the money orders were bogus," he says. Garde found himself nearly $2,000 out of pocket.

Remember - Never Ever deposit a check if there is anything remotely suspicious, such as an overpayment. This is one of the oldest scams in the book. If there was an honest mistake in a legitimate transaction, the buyer will not have a problem writing you another check for the correct amount.

Thank you Darrell for this important update!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fake Check

What to do if you are contacted by the Art Scammers

Please contact us and let us know your story.

If you are contacted by someone interested in buying your art from your website, it almost always is a scam unfortunately.

If you want to play along with the scammers, feel free. It will only take a few moments of your time, and every check they send costs them the price of UPS priority mail. And, it is just plain fun.

Do not try to deposit the check, it is fake, and it will cost you bank fees when it bounces. Make photocopies of the check and envelope, and contact your local police department and file a complaint. They will need the copies of the envelope and check.

After you have filed a complaint locally, go to this FBI website and file a complaint online. do not waste your time calling the FBI. They will only tell you to go to the website I just provided.

If you are a member of a local art community, pass the information on so that they can alert your fellow artists.

The saga comes to an end.

The saga of the $8,000 art sale continues:

Hi Carl,

Thank you for your update,my husband informed me that he has been calling your phone since yesterday to speak with you but you`ve not been available.As I stated earlier the rest of the payment will be going to shipping company,they will ship the artworks along with our other house wares.

As I was informed before,they stated they had been in contact with you some couple of days ago but I`ve not heard from you,anyway they`ve assured me that they will be touch with you later today to arrange pick up with you on Saturday.

I`ll be looking forward to hearing back from you as soon as you hear from them.

Best regards,
Caroline Lewis

She certainly likes to stay on top of the situation. Yes, I did receive several calls from a “restricted” number. If a person or entity blocks their number from my caller ID, I refuse to answer. I am lobbying for the death penalty for all of these shithead collectors out there that call from fake or restricted numbers. Identify yourself, man!

Hi Caroline,

That must be the restricted number that keeps popping up on my caller ID. I never, ever answer calls from restricted numbers. Tell your husband to leave a message with a return number, and I will call that number, if he cannot call from a number that is not restricted.

I have many creditors calling me from restricted numbers, and many salespeople. I am trying to have restricted numbers made illegal in my state to force salespeople to let me know where they are calling from.

As I said - just give me a contact phone number. Not too difficult for an honest person. And that proves my point that all collectors are inherently dishonest, and cowardly that they will not reveal their own numbers. I will lighten up on the death penalty deal, maybe just a good flaying alive would suffice, especially for Nigerian scammers.

Dear Carl B Johnson,

Sorry it took me sometime to get in touch.It is because we have been on pick-up/shipping tour in Malaysia.Meanwhile,I was contacted by Mrs.Lewis’ husband that you have received payment for the items we are picking up from you and shipping on board with her other house decors to South Africa as shipments have been scheduled for Friday 06-26-2009.He also advised us that you will be forwarding to us our own payment as soon as possible.

It`s our house style to always receive our payment ahead of shipment whenever we are on pick up tour,therefore, we will receive our payment via Western Union as we have discussed with Mr.James Lewis.

Therefore,you will have to forward to us the excess on money,from which the Western Union charges will be deducted,and here is the information you will need to get the money transfered to us.Payment has to be made out to the Chief Accountant of our company in the person of ;

ADDRESS:…………….21 Jalan Scott, Kuala Lumpur,
KL 47100, Malaysia

You will need to get back to us with all the necessary receiver’s information ,such as the following;

1.Western Union Control Number
2.Total amount sent ,after deducting the Western Union charges
3.Name and address of sender

We will be looking forward to receiving the receiver’s information as soon as possible so we can make all neccessary arrangement for the FEDEX PICK UP on Friday.I will like you to confirm the PICK UP ADDRESS again so I can be sure of where the FedEx agent will be coming for the pick up.

Carl B. Johnson
415 Sassafras St.
Millville, NJ 08332

Many thanks.

Mr.Steve Edwards
For:Boundless Shipping And Logistics Services Ltd.
21 Jalan Scott, Kuala Lumpur,KL 47100, Malaysia
+60 102 070 769

Finally - an email from a reputable company to confirm that this is not a scam! I was beginning ot get worried for a while. I replied:

I do not have a Western Union agent in my town - how to proceed?

They responded very quickly:

Dear Carl B. Johnson,

To make things a little bit easier for you,you can can make use of any of the Western Union Agent(s) around you for your convenience,I am very sure you will not have any problem doing this ,the agent(s) are listed below:

Millville, NJ 08332

Nice. The check cashing store, the frontispiece and crowning jewel of the arts district, the first location on their list. I wouldn’t give those clowns business if they were the last check cashing place in Millville. We can thank Paul Porreca and Millville First for putting the resdients of Millville last by arranging to have this travesty located in the arts district rather than in the plaza a block away, where it is more suited.

Hi Carl,

I received the copy of the attached email from the movers some couple of minutes ago,detailing the pickup arrangements and scheduled pickup for this tomorrow Friday.

As I stated it for you in my last email,kindly proceed as advised by the shipper,to forward the rest of the payment to them via western union money transfer and as soon as they comfirm the payment they will start shipping our house items we are shipping along with the paintings I`m ordering from you.

I`ll be looking forward to hearing back from you so I can know the pick up goes,thanks so much for your patience and cooperation.


Glad she is keeping abreast of the situation.

Hi Caroline
I am not comfortable with Western Union - I have heard they steal from people. Is there another option?

Also, you said earlier you are pregnant. How far along. I find pregnant girls sexy. Do you have any pictures?

Hey, what is wrong with finding pregnant girls sexy? And Western Union? Why would I use a fly-by-night organization like that?

Hi Carl,

Good morning to you.Pls let me know when you are sending the payment to the shipper via western union as they have requested.Pls update me ASAP.


Okay, the joke is winding down now… I was hoping to get someone from within the states but it looks like caroline will have to pick up the overpayment and the paintings from the FBI. But Ihad to give it one more shot:

Hi Caroline,
I do not feel safe using Western Union to ship money. I don’t like using fly-by-night organizations. Is there another method? Maybe I can pay you cash if you come here on your way to South Africa.

I would love to see your pregnant body naked. Do you have any pictures?

Looking forward to your reply,

She replied - quickly:

From: Caroline Lewis 
Subject: YOUR MOTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 13:42:13 -0500
Importance: Normal
In-Reply-To: <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 26 Jun 2009 18:42:14.0049 (UTC) FILETIME=[D293C110:01C9F68D]

Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1256"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit


Okay, be that way!

So to all of my artist friends out there, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true! If you get contacted regarding one of these scams, feel free to play along. Contact the FBI AND your local police department if and when the fake check arrives. But hold on to the check, how often do you get a $8,000 check for a couple paintings!

Hold on to envelopes and checks, make phootcopies for the authorities, and print out the emails including the headers for the police report. The authorities are not going to catch the people involved; they are in Nigeria, or sometimes Canada. They are always out of the country.

The FBI agent I talked to could not have been less interested. That is the FBI. They really, truly, could not care less about internet crime. Well, that is unless you are a 14 year girl downloading songs from a file sharing service. Then they will kick down your door, and you will find that you have no rights in this country.

You will probably have better luck with your local police, Officer Twigg (that is his real name) arrived at my door within five minutes of my call. He was truly helpful. And in the rare possibility that the FBI will investigate this further, the local police report is mandatory. I hope you enjoyed the saga.

The Saga begins

I am rolling in the dough, yesiree! The other morning the UPS guy delivered an Express Envelope with a check for $8,000 inside.

Seems my financial woes are over! You see, this very nice lady from Dallas, TX contacted me out of the blue and asked me about some paintings I have on my website for sale.

Below is the result of your feedback form. It was submitted by
( on Friday, June 19, 2009 at 09:03:41

name: Caroline Lewis
message: Good day to you.
I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search,I am interested in purchasing these creative artworks from you………………..

the Tracks in South Millville,Al’s Hide-away in Shellpile, NJ,Sometimes a cigar is a cigar and Corner bar in Bayonne, NJ Let me know their various prices. and how much discounts are you going to give?I will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home in South Africa. As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost. I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decoratives.

We are traveling from our Dallas home to our new apartment as soon as possible.

On Paying for the artworks,I will be glad to pay you with a Money Order or Cashier`s check in US funds that can be easily cashed at your local bank, please let me know on how to proceed for the payment of the creative artworks.
I will await your advise on how to proceed. Have a wonderful day.
Take care,
Caroline Lewis

Wow! What good fortune! A supposedly rich art buyer - I love the salutation, “Good day to you” - how so very American! I quickly responded with inflated prices.

The Tracks painting is $500, Al’s Hide-away is $4000, and cigar is
$8,000. If you want them all, deduct 10% from the total. The cigar
painting is 4 feet by 5 feet - rather large to ship.

To my surprise, Caroline Lewis promptly responded:


Thanks for your response to my inquiry regarding your creative works of art, I`ll love to proceed with the purchase of “The Tracks painting is ($500) and Al’s Hide-away is ($4000).And as I stated earlier from my first email to you,I`ll be handling shippings and handlings myself.

Therefore, I`ll want you to get back to me with your physical mailing address so that my hubby who has been shuttling between Jo-burg and our Dallas Home since he resumed as the Head IT section for the organisation he works in Jo-burg,SA will make out the payment to you as soon as possible.

Regarding shipping,I`ll forward your contact information to the shipping company contracted to handle all our house decoratives and other house wares to get in touch with you and make shipping plans with you.They can arrange for FedEx pick-up right from your studio/residence.They are also been charged to handle insurance and other logistics involved with the shipments.

I`ll look forward to hearing back from so I`ll know how best we can proceed.

Caroline Lewis

Oh, that is just so cute, Jo-burg! I sent her my mailing address, and she replied:

Hi Carl,

Nice to hear back from you.I`ll surely get you the photograph of our new home once we are finally settled in our new home so that you will know how the artworks have added color to our new walls. Pls comfirm,the total balance for my purchae is $4500.

In the meantime I`ll be forwarding your contact information to the shipping agent who will be picking up the shipments once we finalised the financial end of the transaction,they will pack and box the package shipments.

I`ll inform you once my husband makes out the payment to you.Have a pleasant day.


Cool - I can’t wait to see the photo of their new house in Jo-burg. This is amazing, she didn’t squawk at the price of $500 for an 8″x10″ painting. And $4,000 for the bar painting is $3,500 more than I have ever rec’d for a painting of comparable size!

The next morning, the check arrived! She must be a serious art buyer. So serious, in fact, that she sent the very same introduction letter to my friend Rachel Citrino from Rhodestown, NJ, and one to a very good friend Lilliana Didovic from Philly.

But there was a problem with the check - it was for $8,000 and not $4,500 as expected! But I am sure it was an honest mistake on her side. I contacted Caroline about the error!

Hi Caroline - I rec’d a check today in UPS overnight, but it came with no documentation or anything- is it from you for the paintings? It is for $8,000, but we agreed the total was for $4500. Is the extra to cover shipping?

She responded, it was obviously an honest mistake on her side:

Hi Lewis,

Good to hear you got the payment for those creative works I am purchasing from you.The check is a refund for a cancelled order as a result of our recent relocation plan.I have sent you an email earlier today which I`m sure you didnt get because I`d explained it to you all in the email.

I was not available to give the details to the creditor` client of my husband who made the payment since I was in the hospital all day yesterday,I`m so sorry for inconviniecing you.My husband also informed that he has tried to speak with you some 45 minutes ago but didnt know why your line didnt go through,that the caller ID is blocked.Also the shipper informed us that since they had been in contact with you,you have not responded back to the email they sent to you.

Therefore,I will like you to proceed to your bank to deposit the check as soon as the funds has been processed by your bank we can proceed with the shipments. The rest of the funds will be for the shipment of the artworks and the other house items we are moving to our new home in Johannesburg. You will do me a favour to pay the movers when they come for the pick up.The Shipper had advised us that he will forward the information you need for the remittance as soon as they can.

I will look forward to hearing from you as soon as you have deposited the check so that I can contact the person that issued the payment to facilitate its prompt clearance at your bank.

Caroline Lewis

Oops, she got my name wrong. Possibly this was meant to go to one of the other artists where they made an honest error. About this same time I began receiving calls from a restricted number on my cell phone. I do not as a rule answer restricted numbers. If you can’t allow your number to display on my Caller ID, then you have no right to call me. Actually I am pushing for laws requiring ALL non-personal calls to display the PROPER phone number on Caller ID. But I digress…

Apparently at least one of those calls was from Caroline’s husband. I listened to my voice mail, and sure enough he left a message. I did have a difficult time understanding due to the poor connection and his heavy Nigerian accent. How nice that Dallas white girl would marry a Nigerian.

My aggressive email spam filter apparently lost some of her emails, and she emailed one of them again, explaining the little mix-up on their end:

Hi Carl,

I hope this email finds you well,I`d like to thank you for your patience and understanding all this while regarding this purchase,I`m very happy to inform you that the payment has been sent out yesterday by a creditor client of my husband`s who promised to send the payment since my husband had been indispensable to be home in the last couple of months,but there is a minor fault with the payment,though it`s not really a fault but I just think it`ll be a wise thing to inform you before it arrives so that you can be sure it`s actually the payment for my purchase.

Since he was unaware of the details of our transaction he made the whole payment requested by me from my husband to you which includes your payment and the balance to give to the shipper to enable them complete the shipments of our various house wares from our Dallas home to our new home in Johannesburg.And since I was out all day yesterday he was unable to inquire from me what the details are,because I was in the hospital for bed rest as advised by the doctors because of my new baby.The payment was sent via UPS with tracking number:1Z61273R2210002515 and according to him the payment should be delivered to you today.

Therefore,upon arrival I`ll want you to deposit the check and once processed by your bank remove your asking price and forward the rest of the money to the Freight company from which arrangement will be made for the shippings of our housewares from Dallas and to also pickup my shipments from you to be shipped to Jo-burg.I`m very sorry for the inconvenience,I was in the hospital for bed rest as advised by the doctors as I`m carrying another baby that is almost due so it was never a deliberate thing.I hope you understand what I`m going through with my husband away and still carrying another baby.I do hope we can finalise the transaction as soon as possible so I can join my husband in our new home.

I`ll look forward to hearing back from you so I can know that you got the email.

Best wishes,
Caroline Lewis

The problems are understandable. She is so very pregnant, moving to another country - their lives must be in disarray. I really hope the paintings look good in their new house. I guess she will put the bar scene painting in the baby’s new room. I responded this morning, telling her my bank told me the check would be clear by tomorrow, and to make arrangements for the shipper to come and pick up the paintings as well as my check for over payment. I will keep everyone updated as this saga continues.

Welcome to the art Scam Weblog

This blog was created as a forum for those that have been victimized, and those that have been recently targeted by a nefarious scam.

I will post the article that first appeared on my personal blog at This scam has targeted artists in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Maine. The FBI could not care less, our politicians in Washington are indifferent. It is up to us to create a grass roots effort to spread the word.