I did not lose any money from the scam I am about to tell you, but I want to share the tell signs so that other fellow artists may avoid being victimized..
I was first contacted on Dec 27th by a Ms Frannie Brandsons (purportedly a resident of South Africa writing from Dallas, TX ) via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). She had requested the purchase price for three of my artworks for the amount of $4,205.00-not including shipping. She was actually delegating the cost of pick up and delivery to a third party. On Dec 30th Ms. Brandsons agreed to my terms via e-mail though she later sent a check for almost twice the amount discussed ($8,000.00-dated Jan 20th and received on January 22nd, 2009.)
The payer’s check from a Chase branch (located at 602 N High Point Rd, Madison, WI 53717) was drawn on an account under the name of Otto Sales LLC (an used-car dealer with a website in Russian) located at 1210 E. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703.
Based on my research, I decided the check had to be bogus and that depositing it in my account would aggravate matters, that it was part of a scam already well documented on several artists’ blogs:
- On Oct 30th, Carmen Hathaway @ http://fineartamerica.com/showmessa
- On Dec 11th, John Webb @ http://groups.google.com/group/pgns-mem
- On Dec 23rd, Julie Chapman @ http://julietchapman.com/blog/author/jul
On January 23rd, following the recommendation of the police department, I spoke to a NYC branch of the bank upon which the check had been drawn. At first, the bank manager acknowledged the account may have been bogus as it was inactive and there were no funds. A few minutes later, however, after speaking to the Fraud Department, the bank manager was given instructions not to disclose further information on the account other than its having insufficient funds. Upon the manager’s advice, I agreed to write “void” across the check and to hold all documentation for further investigation by the Internet Crime Complaint Center @ http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/default.asp
If contacted by anyone related to the party who sent the check, I plan simply to mention that due to its lack of funds I had pass along the check and all the documentation to the appropriate authorities; that I should not be bothered any further.