fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Thursday, September 8, 2011

art scam!!!

It appears I have been the victim of an attempted ART scam (I didn't lose any $ or my art).   It was sophisticated...it was personal.
 I am really disheartened by this, but it is clearly a scam that required some on-line research for a "sale"...in this case a sale of artwork.

Here is how it went down:
I was contacted by a woman name "Sharon Scott" regarding two of my "Message from Swaziland" paintings.   (Clearly they came across my website www.jenniferrikkers.com)    

This potential customer inquired about the size of the painting and then decided on the painting "Ever After", which has a $1000 price tag.  (I love this piece and was so please someone appreciated its message)
She was excited about the piece and expressed her "sincerity" regarding its message.  Then she said she would be arranging shipment of the painting through her moving company as her husband's company was moving them abroad to London from N.J.   She even provided addresses for both homes.  Then she said the shipping company would contact me....and "they" did contact me seperately.  
Here is that correspondence:
Hi,
I have received  communication from Mrs.Susan Scott that we should work with you to ship some artworks with her other house decors to her new house in London , UK  when you two are through with the transaction,as she advise.
 I will like you to get back with the kind and nature of the things she want to ship.I will like to have your studio address ,so i can make arrangement  with any nearby Agent  that will be coming for the pick up  once you and Mrs.Scott are through with the transactions. Thanks.
I will appreciate your earlier reply .
Regards,
Jeff Simmons.
Mac Movers and Logistics  LTD
B12, THE BUSINESS CENTRE
504 Ridgeway Road,
London, SW9 7EX
UK.
T: 0870 863 9866
F: 0870 863 9867
E: mac_moverslogistics@yahoo.com

 I told both "Sharon" and "the moving company" once payment was received that I would arrange the shipping with the moving company.  Then she said she was having complications with her pregnancy and was at her sister's wedding which was slowing the process of the payment.  (It all seemed possible at this point).   Then she said her husband was sending payment via royal mail as he was already in London.   There was a delay because of a mistake with my address and Hurrican Irene....then it was "resent".   

I received a check today, via air mail/royal mail...but it was for $3900.   Yep, not $1000.

Immediately I was disheartened and wanted to believe this was some crazy coincidence.   I called the bank, Suburban Bank and Trust, it was issued from, which is was legit bank in Elmhurst, IL.   The bank told me that this cashier's check was indeed fraudulent.   The only name on the check was "Dennis Friedhan", so I still have a a glint of hope that this wasn't "Sharon" as her name was nowhere on the check.  I know, the idealist in me....   But a part of me knew that this probably meant it was a scam.   
So, tonight I emailed "Sharon Scott" and said I received a check from Dennis Friedhan today and asked if this was indeed the check she was sending.   
"Sharon" wrote this:
Hi Jennifer ,
Good to hear you have received payment for the painting. Thanks for
your update. I am very excited and can't wait to have it on my wall. I
hope to give the it a very good home and enjoy the lovely piece for
years.

Regarding the payment, my husband made a mistake and send your payment
with that of the movers because he didn't have full details of the
transaction since  i was sick when he sent it. I am very sorry for the
confusion

I told him about what inspires you to make the painting and he was
touched that part of the sales will be donated directly back to the
AIDS foundation in Swaziland. He can't imagine 33% of a population to
be infected with HIV/AIDS virus. Anyway, we will like you to go ahead
and deposit the payment, you can then remove the asking price for
"Ever After?" , additional $330 to the foundation  and forward the
difference to the movers.

Meanwhile , i  was able to get hold of the movers immediately i got
your email and they promise to get in touch with you and make shipping
arrangement. Try and keep me updated as soon as you hear from them.
Best Regards,
Sharon.
PS..Kindly acknowledge this email as soon as possible. Thanks .

As you can see "Sharon" really personalized this scam.....from finding my work on-line, showing interest, choosing a piece, setting up payment and shipment, even referencing that I donate 33% of the cost of the piece because 33% of the population of Swaziland (which inspired the series) is infected with HIV/AIDS.
 It wasn't clear that it was a scam until the very end, until today.  Looking back I see how they pulled me in.   They complimented my work, my efforts to give back.  I am sure they thought they had me "hook, line and sinker".   They developed a "relationship" with me and even induced sympathy for her difficult pregnancy while moving abroad while trying to complete this transaction.

Unbelievable.   Of course, I am disappointed that I didn't sell a piece of my work.   I was looking forward to it and that someone was genuinely interested in my art or its message.   But instead these people were interested in taking advantage of me.   
 I am disheartened....and infuriated by this scam.  
So, I want to get the message out there.....this is happening and it is VERY PERSONAL.   You open yourself up on the internet with your art, with your website, even with this blog and it is a reminder that you need to be on the offensive.   Sad state of affairs, for sure.  My hopeful and idealistic nature will not be deterred.   My efforts to share my art and "Message from Swaziland" will not change.    That is all apart who I am, but it is a lesson....and it is clear that I need to protect that part of myself as well.



Since I posted this one of my young computer savvy friends (Javi!) 
did some research and shared this link with me about art scams...
worth a look.

  

27 comments:

Aunt Joyce said...

Jennifer, you should contact the post master in your town because this is mail fraud. Then see if you can contact your state attorney general to report this fraud and maybe even your local Better Business Bureau.
You may help someone else from becoming a victim. Sorry you got your hopes up but sure glad you realized the scam before depositing the fraudulent check.
How about contacting a local tv station too?
Hugs to you sweetheart, love, Aunt Joyce

AnnMarie & Nick said...

First I want to tell you that you do AMAZING work. I also wanted to let you know that I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.

Bridget said...

i am so, so sorry. :(

Cindy said...

I adore your work as well. Sorry you ran into someone like this :(

Claudia said...

That SUCKS!!!!!!!!

I've heard about this kind of scam but never known anybody it has actually happened to - the fact that they personalised it so carefully makes it SO MUCH WORSE! I'm SO MAD on your behalf!

The Lost Planetista said...

Holy wow! Seriously? OMG.

I just feel so sorry that this happened to you. Having "bad juju" involving your art is one of the worst feelings. Shame on them for involving your beautiful and meaningful art in their scam.

And being scammed is awful. Put those two things together and it just sucks.

hugs!

mary said...

I have to tell you, I too have received all these emails from this woman....the difference is that I knew it was wrong from email #2. I have not yet gotten the check (it's probably in my studio mailbox but I have been afraid to open it). I have not responded to her emails in weeks but she keeps hounding me online. Not sure what to do. Your aunts suggestion of going to the postmaster is good. Thank you for posting and lets hope that she will find a different line of work.
p.s. I like your painting too. It is amazing
Mary Johnston

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! I've had the exact same e-mail exchange with "Sharon Scott" and received the check for $3900 yesterday. Only my painting was $4800, so I was going to write back but decided to do a little more investigating (I had been asking repeatedly that she call me to discuss details as every e-mail had seemed a bit off). So glad I found this before wasting any more time on it!

What have you done about it? Just torn up the check and moved on? Or is there other action we should take?

Thanks so much for spreading the word!

Caroline

Bobbi said...

Jennifer, just to add another "wrinkle" in this scam. I've received cashier checks in the last 2 days, each for $3870.00. Each was from "Dennis Friedhan". Neither was made out to me, but sent from others to my home address. Then I got another "corporate" check in the amount of $2385.00. I've not posted anything to sell in over 6 months, nor have I advertised anything for sale. These checks just came to my home with my name on the envelope. It's really scary. I contacted both the Texas State Attorney Generals office and the Mail Fraud Division of the post office.

Bobbi said...

Jennifer, just to add another wrinkle in the mix. In the last 2 days, I've received 2 cashiers checks and a corporate, delivered to me at my home. The cashiers checks were to other people, but "from" Dennis Friedhan, each for $3870.00. The 3rd was a corporate check for someone else for $2385.00 and sent to me. Yes, it's scary! I reported it to the Texas State Office of the Attorney General and the Mail Fraud Division of the post office.

georgia long said...

The same thing is happening to me. I received a check for $3900, today 9.9.2011. Dennis Friedhan-recipent. I'm glad I googled him and found your post.

georgia long said...

The same thing is happening to me. I received a check for $3900, today 9.9.2011. Dennis Friedhan-recipent. I'm glad I googled him and found your post.

S said...

Sometimes people just suck. That's all I got. Sometimes people just suck.

Janet said...

Thanks for letting us know about this art scam. I'm sorry you had to go through all this only to find out it was not what it seemed.

Leah said...

How infuriating! I'm sorry you had to deal with this sort of scam, but I'm glad that you realized what was happening before it went further!

Anonymous said...

The same thing happened to me. Luckily I knew it sounded fishy from the beginning. After receiving an email from "Russell" saying his daughter was going to have a truck company come get my couch because he had recently relocated, I got another one the next day saying she got confused and sent me the truck drivers money as well. From the very beginning I knew I didn't want my name on a check to a random person I didn't know (whether or not the check was real). I emailed him back and said no thank you. However, I still received a check a few days later. He must have thought I would get tempted to cash it. I DIDN'T and I called the same bank and of course it was fake. I sent copies of the check to the bank with all the gentlemen's info. Hopefully they will find them!

hotflawedmama said...

infuriating. so sorry.

Tracey said...

Hey I just got the same check today!

Tim U. said...

I use ETSY.COM to sell my stuff

Tim U. said...

I received money grams in the mail that wanted me to cash them and give the person that picked up the item the difference like u know me better than that. Tim U.

Kerria said...

Im so glad u posted this i received a check in the mail for $2,750 and instantly looked it up. glad i saw this thanks

Anonymous said...

I have been somewhat "fished" like you, Jennifer. I posted some baby items on Craig's List and was asked to take it off by a Barry Blunt, with a story about leaving the country and his accountant would send me a check and arrange for pick up at a later date, same as you were told. I also received a cashier's check with Dennis Friedhan's name on it for $1950, with the same e-mail instructions you were given. I found this page when I googled Dennis' name. I haven't cashed the cashier's check because I almost got scammed a few years ago in a similar way, so I did some research. I am going to the FBI and relay all my e-mail communication, the check and your blog. Thanks for the info! I'm sorry this happened to you, but "he" or "Sharon" won't scam me out of any money.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, I'm sorry this happened to you. Your artwork is beautiful. I am glad, however, that I found your post. Now I know that I too have been scammed. Same emails, same thing with the check being much larger than it should have been, etc. This was from a "Ruby Larson" in New Jersey. So sorry I went ahead and gave my address out. Not sure how to proceed. :(

AM said...

Jennifer,

I very much appreciate your post. I too was summoned by the same people only under the alias of Ruby Larson. I was highly suspicious of the validity of this "collector". My wife came across your post last night and confirmed out suspicions. Thanks again. So glad you weren't taken and grateful that you could help debunk this fraud for other people.

Jeff Merrill

Maeve Croghan said...

Dear Jennifer,
Thank-you so much for posting this Blog about your experience.
I found it while trying to research these same people who are currently supposed to be buying two of my paintings - [total sale would be over $2000] - so of course I am interested and was hoping it was not a scam...
But it had enough red flags that I have been pretty dubious.

But - yes this is all the same routine I have received - problem pregnancy - she was sick , husband being delayed in sending the check, etc., etc. The same shippers in London. Different name of the lady.
However - I am still in the middle of it and have not yet received the check. I figured once I received it I would go to the bank and see if it was actually good, wait for it to go through, and then make the shipping arrangements.

I have a question for you though - how did you know it was indeed a bad check?

Thanks SO much again for posting this - I very much appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Maeve Croghan
www.maevecroghan.com

Anonymous said...

I too got an email for interest in my art from a Ruby Larson with the same types of emails, pregency issues, twin sisters wedding, shipping company contacted me, it just seemed too good to be true. Many of the emails, I asked Ruby to give me a call, to no avial. The total for the sale of the art was $1650.00, the check I received today was for $3900.00. Had a hunch this was not legit., so I decided to do some research. Thank you to all of you for disclosing this scam. I will be sure to share it with all my art friends. So disappointed.

Jim Bobick said...

Thank you for posting this. I was the victim of the same exact scam. Once this lady asked me to wire money this evening, I google the address of where she wanted me to wire the funds to and found your (this) blog. If I hadn't found your blog, I would have wired her the money. THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOO MUCH! You just saved me! Jim Bobick.

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