I only touch lightly on this issue in my book, mostly associated with Vanity Galleries.

A few days ago, I received the following email:

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From: paul Lewis <paullewis0111@gmail.com>

Subject: Rhone In Spring, 2009, oil on canvas. 24 x 36 inches. Unframed with painted edges. Original painting: $2,160

Date: September 1, 2014 at 4:58:40 PM PDT

To: peter@peterworsley.com

Hello,

I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website (piece in subject field above) on my laptop and i guess she likes that piece, I must also say you are doing a great job. I would like to know what inspired that work.

I am very much interested in the purchase to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.

Peace and blessings

Paul

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The email is sufficiently different from other fraudulent solicitations that I have received, that i paused to think before deleting the message. Cautioning signs that aroused my suspicions were:

  • the specific painting was only mentioned in the subject line, which was a little strange, and
  • the main text could apply to any subject line artwork.

The requestor’s name, Paul Lewis, is very common and may not be usefully searched. But I decided to search using google, the email address.

Surprised, I got several references to fraud, with particularly this message abstracted below: 

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Art Quest:

Known Scammer Names used in Art Scams

Scams are on the rise at art sites in general. The latest email scam indicates they are an art dealer or gallery and some emails arrive where a client is indicated.

Many of the initial emails arrive in all caps and all use free email services since it is basically an easy process to hide behind.

If you know how to look at the option header of an email, most of the emails have a LookUp-Warning and indicate that the email address does not match the ip address.

Most emails indicate they want to buy an artwork but are usually vague about what it is they want to purchase. Some actually copy the exact information from our thumbnail page including the listing number and list the particulars you have with your artwork. Shipping is usually addressed and they will have their shipper contact you.

All the emails indicate along the way that there is an overpayment due to them and the certified check will be made payable in a higher amount than their purchase. Of course, this certified check becomes a cashiers check along the way and they’ll request that you send this overpayment to them. The type of payment is always a cashier’s check or credit card. Cashiers Checks are easily counterfeited and credit cards are usually stolen cards.

As the correspondence gathers between the parties, at some point, they may even request that you purchase some cell phones, gameboys or playstations on their behalf to include in the shipment and will give you a hardship story about how they can’t get a company to ship the items out of the country to them.

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This introduction is followed by a long list of over 400 email addresses. About half way down the list was:

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Paul Lewis – email used: paullewis0111@gmail.com

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If you want to explore further, visit the link above the quote.

Peter

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