Update, and a scam directed towards artists

“Waterscape, Blue/White #2”, Copyright Jim Nickelson. All Rights Reserved.

I’ll be pretty occupied next week with my Night Landscape Photography workshop next week with Maine Media Workshops, so please don’t be alarmed if I’m a bit slow in responding to emails and such. The image above is a new image for my abstract waterscape series from this summer…

Ok, on to the crux of the post. As if artists needed another thing to worry about, I received a few emails as part of an attempted scam this week regarding the purchase of one of my photographs. I bring this up as a warning, as it was much more specific than the normal Nigerian colonel-type of scam. I’m sure all of my readers are familiar with these sort of scams (find out more here from Craigslist), but this one seemed worth highlighting since it is specific to artists (and I know of at least one other Maine artist who received a similar email this week, so I’m sure there are others).

Here’s the e-mail I first received (along with my own commentary in red):

From: Steve Kepley (of course it is Steve – a nice generic American and yet kind of cool name)
To: Jim Nickelson
Re: “The Tarn” (one of the keys to the scam – identifying one of my more popular images with specificity)

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. (flattery always is helpful, but the great job part struck me as odd). 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 more about the artwork. kindly get back to me asap.
Thanks and God bless, (nice touch, too, to make it seem like someone without bad intent)

After this first email something seemed a little off to me, but I really didn’t expect a scam because of the reference to a particular image – I was thinking more that it was someone who was unlikely to be serious. But you never know, so I replied with prices, availability, and sizes…and then received this reply:

From: Steve Kepley <stevkepley@yahoo.com>
Subject: Hello…
Date: October 10, 2012 12:37:41 PM EDT
To: Jim Nickelson <jim@jimnickelson.com>
Reply-To: Steve Kepley <stevkepley@yahoo.com>

Dear Jim,
Thanks for your prompt reply.  i must tell you i am very much interested in the immediate purchase in size 16″x16″. My wife found your website and ask me to view your artwork and contact you for the purchase. (the wife is a nice touch, too. another compelling aspect was picking a specific size – and not being too greedy and going for the largest one, either)

Unfortunately, i am on a voyage at the moment to France as am a  civil marine engineer  i squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding it. I wont be back for another couple of weeks, I would have come to purchase the piece personally. (now the alarms go off in full – a civil marine engineer on the way to France? plentiful grammatical errors? and a print buying rush? the scam potential quickly became very obvious)
If you’d like to know, Im relocating to the philippines soon and I’m trying to gather some good stuff for my new abode. Im buying yours amongst others,quickly! before someone else grabs it.So, I’ll arrange to send you payment ASAP. (now he is just getting over the top with throwing another country in there – and I’d also recommend honing that boilerplate a bit to remove at least some of the grammatical errors)

However, I’ll have to notify my shipper who’s helping me move my stuff to get set for the pickup of the piece from your place as I MIGHT be delayed depending on how things goes.

PS: In the mean time, you could forward me your full name (you want the check payable to) and contact address so I can mail out the certified check to you ASAP. (oh, and just casually reference the information they need to begin the money order scam)

So the lesson, as always, is to be careful with your information on the Internet…and if there are any legitimate “civil marine engineers” out there interested in purchasing my work, I’m happy to oblige!

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9 replies on “Update, and a scam directed towards artists”

  1. Wow, it really makes you wonder what good things these people who spend so much time trying to scam everyone could be doing for the world with all the time they apparently have on their hands, doesn’t it? Glad you didn’t fall prey! The scammers are out there in force, for sure! Thanks for a great post, as always, Cindy

    1. Thanks, Cindy! It is amazing how much effort is put into this on a global scale, but it obviously must pay off eventually – who knows how many people they have to contact before they succeed.

  2. jeez- makes me think that every actually legitimate business approach will be a scam- like everyones out there to screw someone else over or something!?
    By the way- those people who inquired about the larger print never got back to the gallery (which I had asked you about about a month ago) maybe they were setting up a scam!
    I really don’t want to be a doubter or a pessimist. This world can get challenging in that regard though!
    H.a.n.d. -Nate.

    1. Nate, it is frustrating and it is good to be vigilant – but I also wouldn’t despair, either, as this is the first time this has happened to me. Just another twist in the spam wars. Certainly many legitimate sales don’t come to fruition, either, but I am confident that many will for you and others, too.

  3. Yes, thanks for the post. Steve Kepley contacted me with a near identical email, again with the request for a specific piece of work. So, I googled Steve Kepley marine engineer which led me to this post.

    1. Thanks, Paul, and interesting to hear that somebody else received one from the same email address. I think the others I had heard of were from other names. Thank you for the comment and additional information!

  4. Thank you! Just received a near identical email from this character and thought it was a likely scam as it sounded odd to me as well. That and the painting he wanted was the title of a detail of the large original painting, all of which made me type the name and email into google, and here you are. Thanks for posting

    1. Rosemarie, thanks the comment! I’ve heard from quite other people, too – he has been doing the rounds!

  5. Yes, he has been making the rounds, we got the exact same email this morning, I first googled his name, then inserted his whole email to google and found you. He’s good, he’s got colloquial English down better than most scammers (with their “Dear Honored Sir”) but what was the red flag for me was that he didn’t ask for the price. I appreciate your posting his email, it saved us the time of responding to him.

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