I think most of us are savvy enough to know that the Prince of Nigeria does not really need our money or that the foreign lottery we never entered did not draw our name as the winner. Every now and then however one of those not to be trusted people can get really clever and downright convincing, at least for one exchange. The fun begins when the scam-er does not realize the scam-ee knows exactly what is going on and decides to play along.
A fellow artist friend of mine posted on his FB about a situation involving the potential purchase of some of his work from his website. As artists, many of us have websites in order to allow for a large number of people to see the bulk of our work in one place at one time. So it is not too farfetched to be contacted via email about some of our pieces and the possibility of buying them. Having been a victim of identity theft, red flags shoot up whenever any type of contact does not seem “right”. So begins my delightful exchange with PS as the Scam-er shall be called (which stands for Poor Speller).
I got an email from PS asking about a couple of my pieces which just so happen to be currently on display in my studio. Therefore it would seem logical that someone could ask about those two particular works. The email address was not odd although PS’s name did not appear in it anyplace which is somewhat unusual. I put out a flag stick just in case. My return email stated that I would get back to PS with the requested information and the terms of how I handle sales not done in person. A 24 hour period passed before each exchange. PS asked for more info about my motivations behind each piece. First I ran a red flag up stick number one then directed her to my website. The flag was because PS said she had seen them on my website and if you are familiar with my website then you know that the requested info is right there on the screen in English (which could be the problem.) Meanwhile I started to print out the emails and using a red pen, corrected the grammatical and spelling errors. Hopefully her self esteem won’t be too hurt if and when they appear in court. I suppose I could have used a yellow marker and just highlighted the errors…..
PS sent another email about shipping. I sent a return one requesting she hold her ponies while I explained that payment had to be for X dollars only, on a US bank, using a certified check and had to clear (both the bank and the FBI) before I would consider any such exchange. PS replied that her husband would send the money right away. Meanwhile I put up some more flag sticks and waited. Eventually PS wrote back. Seems the poor thing was in Cancun for her twin sister’s wedding but ended up the hospital with a possible miscarriage. But thankfully all is okay and the baby is safe and now her husband can send the check. Well my goodness, I felt so bad that I sent a nice sympathetic email about how bad it must be to be in a hospital in Cancun but I am sure the wedding was a blast and glad the baby is safe. Oh one more thing PS, I only use Fed-Ex with your credit card number called in to them. PS said I’d hear from her shipping agent because the work for her “decors” was going to London. Now that I can no longer see past all these dang flags, I contacted my artist friend who gave me the name used for his exchange. Hmmmm….must be the twin sister because they shared a same last name. PS did give me an address for the states and for London. Hello Google-earth… oooohh…a multi unit building with a pool on the roof and surround by parking lots (can we say hotel?).
PS really wants her work though. Even a reference to homeland security needing to verify some info did not detour her from the quest for my work for her “decors”. The check arrived in the mail on a US bank but I got a large bonus on it! Really? You want to spend all that much more? What economy are you living in? I had to tell PS that though I was deeply appreciative of her generosity, that I could not accept it and would be shredding the document….the one with a list on the back to indicate what is a fraudulent check and hence did not even pass its own test. The local store is sold out of red flags by the way.
The shipping guy, I shall refer to as BG for Bad Grammar, contacted me right away but is from London so he wants to work with a local person. What part of Fed-Ex international does not register with him? Regardless, I let PS know that it would be a lot smarter to send the work to the US address at the place where I am still awaiting a unit number since the building is one of multiple units, and ship it with the rest of her “decors”. Hey, just trying to help her save a little cash. So far neither PS nor BG wants to play anymore. Darn it, I was having a good time. Maybe PS had a little problem with the law because an “SP” in the same location was in trouble with the parole board (Google, I love you). Oh well, at least her baby is safe, the twin sister is happily married and BG is free to pursue other local companies and not negotiate with me. Maybe I will see if that Prince in Africa wants to come out and play. I could forward him the check since he needs the money.