Fun with scammers

The following is the beginning of a series of emails that I hope continue between myself and an art scammer. I'm posting it for two reasons (1) as a real warning to artists out there that they are starting to get smarter about this particular scam, so beware and (2) I'm hoping to mess with this person as much as possible to see how stupid he/she is. I'm going to post all of the text, so it may be a little long and then at the end tell you what to look for in these new era scams. I put some funny in there to keep it entertaining. "Subject: Re: Night trains 20x20 | oil on canvas | Richmond, at Brazier Fine Art

Good day, hope you are good. Was going through your website and saw some of your artwork I really like. You are doing a great job. I would like to make the purchase of the artwork in subject field above if it is still available..i would also like to know what inspired the artwork. kindly get back to me asap.

Thanks and God bless,

Steve Leavitt."

From me, "I'm sorry, it's sold."

From "Steve"

"Dear Larry,

Thanks for the message, Hope  you are doing  great. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website (artwork) on my laptop and i guess she likes your artwork, Also I must tell you I am very much interested in the immediate purchase of your artwork to surprise my wife.  Kindly email me images and prices of your available works ready for immediate sales.

Unfortunately, at the moment I am on training voyage with new hires, fresh from graduate school, I would have come to purchase the piece personally but won't be back for another couple of weeks, as I am a civil marine engineer and due to the nature of my work, visiting of website, phone calls are restricted during this period, but i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it:-).

Thanks and God bless,

Steve Leavitt."

From me....

"Hey Steve,

All good here. Civil Marine engineer? That's awesome! Which army? Most of my work right now is in galleries and museums but I have a few I can get my hands on. Let's get right to it, none of these are yet posted to my website, but could be available. First one is a painting I call Starry night, named after the song by Don Corleone. It's kind of fun and swirly and girlie, perfect for the wife. It's 20x25 and is priced kind of expensive but this one has gotten some write ups in art pubs and I'm pretty sure it'll hold it's value.

Next up is a painting I call Nighthawks and it inspired the other painting you inquired about. It's 25x40 and has also gotten some press. It's at the Whitney right now but I'm sure I can call them and get it shipped forthwith. It's a little pricey too but I'm sure you will find it's worth it. Might be too big to go over the couch though... not sure. The girl in the red dress is Shirley Mazolla, my niece and a lovely Jewish girl. She's an actress in adult films. "Shaving Ryans privates" not sure if you've seen it. Very popular.

and finally, you being a marine civil engineer and all will appreciate this one, probably not so much the wife. It's a painting of our president Obama (not shown) crossing the Delaware. As this painting is rather large (15'x20'), I'm only showing a detail, too big for my camera. Might not be one for the wife either, but thought you would like it. Would be happy to let it go for a good price as it is clogging up my living room.

Good luck and safe travels on your journey and god bless. Let me know if any of these appeal to you and I'll send prices. or if you want to see more, please let me know. I have plenty.


I'm hoping "Steve" will write back but I doubt it. I "he" does I will surely post the follow up.  I doubt the scammers read blogs so here are the tells, and I know this because I have gotten about 5o of these in various forms.

1) Subject line of the first email, it's a simple cut and paste job from my main page. He didn't even try to pick a more buried painting. Also, it clearly says what gallery it's in, why is he emailing me?

2) The body of the first email is a form letter, cut and paste any suckers title and send. There's no connection between the two other than praying on my hopes.

3)Scammers like to give you a little bit of info about them as to why it's an urgent need. Usually, it's "I am moving to a new apartment in Africa, want to get some art before I go." Right. Africa. Might be because that's where they already live.

4) They always use the words kindly and god bless. No one says that. Also the use of the term advert.. only British or some Euro types call it that.

5) People rarely buy off the website unless they have bought from you before.

6) and this one hasn't shown up yet, but, once a price is settled on, and it really doesn't matter what it is, they want to contact "their shippers", like who has their own shippers? And send along a forged bank cheque that is more than the agreed upon amount. Kindly refund the balance after shipping. Which is what they are after.

Sure hope "Steve" writes back.