Beware of Scammers! / by James Penfold

I was recently contacted by a scammer.  His method of robbing artists is to pay them by cheque for their artwork, write a cheque for more than the agreed amount and request the artist pay him the difference. The cheques are real, but the account they are from is empty, so after five days the cheque bounces. The artist having already paid the scammer is left with no way of getting their money back.   

From what I can see online they have managed to successfully con artists on many occasions, sometimes with the artist posting the artwork to fake addresses and losing the artwork itself.  

I realised very early on in my email exchange that something was up and decide to toy with him. I also wanted him to send me the cheque so I could paint a special piece on it and auction that artwork off to raise money for charity — as a kind of "fuck you" to the scammers and to raise awareness of this particular scam.  


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Thursday June 30 2016 1:03pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Penny

My name is Maxwell Ore from MI. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work, I'm also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too, : ) You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you. I am very much interested in the purchase of the piece to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.

Thanks and best regards,
Maxwell Ore.


From: Penny
Date: Thursday June 30 2016 12:39pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Maxwell, 

Thank you for getting in touch and for your compliments!  
I have attached an image with details of the only piece I have available.

Please let me know what you think. 

Many thanks.

Best, 
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Thursday June 30 2016 6:29pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hello Penny,

Thanks for your kind response. Glad to let you know I'm very much interested in "Maia Autumnus". What is the pricing for the particular piece? I look forward to hearing back from you asap.

Thanks and God bless,

Maxwell.


From: Penny
Date: Thursday 30 June 2016 8:28pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Maxwell,

That's great. Apologies the price wasn't clear on the file I sent you. Here are the details for that piece:

Maia Autumnus
14 layer handcut stencil
Spray paint on 4 uncut $1 bills
26.4 x 15.6cm
£750

Let me know if you would like to take it and I will send you a PayPal invoice for the total. 

Many thanks! 

Best,
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Friday July 1 2016 8:21am
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Sorry which country are you communicating from?

Sincerely,
Max.


From: Penny
Date: Friday July 1 2016 8:51am
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

From the UK. Yourself? 

Best, 
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Friday July 1 2016 12:20pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

United States. Not sure if the transaction could work except you have a trust worthy family or friends that could help you handle the check here.  How about that Penny?

Max.


From: Penny
Date: Friday July 1 2016 1:01pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Max,

I do have some trusty worthy family members. I would only be able to accept cheques up to the value of $50 though, so would kindly ask if you could write multiple cheques to cover the full amount. If you could mail each of the 15 cheques separately to my family members that would be the best way for this to work. 

Please send me your home address and I will raise the invoices for you. 

Many thanks! 

Best,
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Friday July 1 2016 1:19pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

What are you talking about? How come 15 cheques?

Max.


From: Penny
Date: Friday July 1 2016 9:04pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Max,

Apologies for not being clear. 

Here are the ways you can pay for the artwork: 

1 - Send fifteen separate cheques to fifteen of my most willing and trustworthy family members. I will raise separate invoices for each of these and provide you with the addresses of the family members to send the cheques to. This will keep the process as simple as possible for you. 

2 - Create a PayPal account. It's a very safe and secure way to pay online. It will protect both of us and is quick and easy to use. 

3 - I have a brother that lives in the USA, he could accept the cheque from you for the full amount. He's not very trustworthy though. 

Please let me know what the best way forward is for you to proceed with the transaction. I'm sure we can accommodate your unique form of custom and deliver you the best quality for your money, and even if you do decide to pay via cheque we will not make you feel any less of a valued member of our modern society, even though it is almost unheard of.   

Many thanks!

Best, 
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Friday July 1 2016 9:49pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

The first option is out of it, I need the surety of the 3rd option. If the surety of the 3rd option is guaranteed then we can move on with the transaction by providing me the full name and address of whom check is to be payable to. I look forward to hear back from you as soon as possible.

Thanks and God bless,
Max.


From: Penny
Date: Friday July 1 2016 10:41pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Max, 

That's great we have come to an agreement for the arrangement of the payment.  

Before we progress I just want to be up front with you, as their are so many in this art business that wouldn't be as honest as myself. I can see you are a good and decent man, a loving family man, with a kind soul and a healthy heart. The artwork that you are interested in is slightly damaged. It's not really bad, but it is fairly significant. My son, an aspiring artist himself (he really is one to watch for the future!), accidentally marked the artwork. if anything the marks he made have added to the piece, but I totally understand if you don't want to take it any more.   

The top left corner was removed because it was damaged quite badly and took away from the composition as a whole. Personally, speaking as a father and an artist, I think it's now a more balanced piece, but again understand if you would like to pass on it this time. 

With much gratitude for your love and support. 

Many thanks!

Best, 
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Friday July 1 2016 10:54pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

That's not a problem. Provide the info where the check should be mailed to and make sure the surety is %100 guaranteed as well. I'm looking forward to hearing back from you with the info needed to commence with the transaction asap.

Thanks for the transparency,
Max.


From: Penny
Date: Saturday July 2 2016 7:18pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Max, 

That's brilliant news! Some people would have seen the alterations and missing corner as damage, but you obviously have a well seasoned eye for this sort of thing. 

I have checked with my brother and he assures me he is 100% trustworthy. He is very happy to receive the cheque and will bank it for me. Please mail to: 

Joe Bouganim
223 Bedford Ave
#448 Bklyn
NY 11211

l will keep the work safe for you until I receive payment. 

Many thanks!

Best, 
Penny


From: Maxwell Ore
Date: Saturday July 2 2016 9:48pm
To: Penny
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Dear  Penny,

Hope you are good. Thanks for the details which I've noted down,  My wife handles the family credit card/bank issues, and in order not to leave any clue to her for the surprise,  I've contacted a client of mine to issue out a check which will include my shipping agent fees to you, But courtesy demand i must  first appeal to your self interest and ask for your help in remitting the overage (after deducting your fee for the piece) to the shipping agent as soon as the check clears.

I would have handled this much differently if I'd been at home but am a bit pressed for time as our anniversary is fast approaching and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction.... trying to kill two birds with a stone. kindly deduct any IRS tax incurred on the overage before giving the balance the shipping agent. they are not sending any bill or hold you responsible for the payment of my shipping contract with them.

I am really sorry for the mix up and will appreciate if you get back to me asap to know if i can entrust you with this transaction.

Many thanks and talk to you soon,
Maxwell.


From: Penny
Date: Saturday July 2 2016 11:04pm
To: Maxwell Ore
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED

Hi Maxwell, 

That makes the least amount of sense I could possibly imagine, but I am desperate to sell you my artwork so will be more that willing to overlook that. Once we receive the cheque I will reimburse your fee, no problem at all. The last thing I want is for you to be out of pocket. 

I'm saddened to hear that you would kill birds though, unless it was for food, but even so using a stone is pretty cruel. 

It's an honour to be part of your anniversary celebrations, I'm sure your wife will love the artwork!

Many thanks!

Best,
Penny