I got an exciting email a short while ago. Someone wants to buy my artwork! For a LOT of money.
Anthony richard1000 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tue, Feb 25, 4:05 PM
How are you doing? My name is Anthony Richard from Brownsville TX. I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife's anniversary which is just around the corner. I stormed on some of your works which i found quite impressive and intriguing,I must admit your doing quite an impressive job,You are undoubtedly good at what you do.
With that being said, I would like to purchase some of your works as a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works, with their respective prices and sizes(bearing it in mind that my budget is within $500-$5000)which are ready for immediate sale.
I look forward to reading from you.
How exciting! Of course I had lots of questions. Why is his English so bad? How did he storm onto my works? Why doesn't he mention which ones he's interested in? Why would he need me to send pictures when he must have seen my work online? Why does it sound so generic? Could it be.... a scam???
I looked around a bit and found the nature of the scam. He will claim his wife controls the credit cards and since it must be a surprise, he will want to sent a check via FedEx or DHL. The amount he will send will be double "to cover shipping". After the check is deposited and cleared (don't know how that can happen but I guess it does!), he will say he will arrange his own shipping so as again not to spoil the surprise, and will want part of the excess sent back to him, bank transfer or some other means. I send him a payment via PayPal or something, risk-free so I think since I already have the money from his check. And then 2-3 weeks later his check will be exposed as a fraud, I will owe the bank for the amount and a penalty, and my partial refund to him will be gone.
Sounds like good times! I wrote back to him:
- Tue, Feb 25, 6:07 PM
Hello Mr Richard! How exciting! Thank you for your kind compliments!
I'm assuming you found me because of my recent exhibit in your country. I think if you want something really special your wife will really like this one. It is called Craztessgus and it was part of a collaborative project that was recently exhibited at the international Infinity Group, where it received high praise. Perhaps you saw it in the newspapers?
It is a larger piece, in a mahogany frame that measures 28" x 33". As it is a recently exhibited work in a frame of highest quality, I would normally seek a higher price than your budget. However, I am very pleased to meet a fan and am willing to reduce the price to $5000. I could if you like put it in a less expensive frame, or sell the artwork without a frame if you're interested in framing it yourself. I must say, however, that the framed piece is exquisite. Let me know if you'd like a price for the work without a frame.
I have attached two pictures of the work. If you are interested in this piece, I can find out shipping costs and insurance.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Michael C. Ascher
The picture is actually called "Crazy Tessellating Guys" and it came from an out-of-control email exchange with ecib where he offered his Crazy Guy motif to use in artwork so I didn't have to pay royalties to the M.C.Escher estate to use Escher's work. We would just change the artist name to M.C.Ascher and do our own rip-off.
Ed will be pleased to see our collaborative project hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. But would Mr Anthony Richard be pleased? Here's his response:
Thu, Feb 27, 3:03 PM (21 hours ago)
How are you doing today? Sorry for the late response, I've been busy with a lot of works load. Thanks for the feedback. Having carefully looked through the pictures of your works. I have decided to proceed with the purchase of (Craztessgus) but i will be paying $4500 for it. If you I'd like to know, I'm presently working on my relocation to Quebec, Canada soon, thus, am doing all i could to make this event quite a memorable one.
In regards to payment,owing to the fact that my wife handles the family bank cards and paypal transactions. I would like to inform you that best means for the payment of my purchase is through check so as to keep this a complete surprise as intended.
Consequently, I would authorize a check to you for the payment of the chosen piece of work as soon as i have your full name and contact address (preferably for FedEx delivery no P.O box). As soon as you receive the check and it clears your bank, I will have my personal shipping agent (who is also moving my other properties) contact you to arrange shipping/pick up of the piece from you. This is to avoid my wife receiving it if been directly shipped to my address which would ruin the surprise for the wedding anniversary.
Trying to kill two birds with a stone. :-) I will be looking forward to receiving your phone number, full name and physical address the check should be issued to.
Thanks and blessings
So. First of all, quite a thrill to see his message following the expected pattern. His wife handles the credit cards. And he has a private shipper.
But now - I'm really feeling slighted! I offer him this fine piece of work at a discount price of $5000 and he tells me he will be paying $4500 for it. Wtf? He will not dictate the price of my artwork! I am NOT one to be railroaded in such a fashion. I do want his fake money, but if he wants fake "Craztessgus" he's got to pony up the full amount of fake money. Otherwise, no way he's getting all the "guys".
Fri, Feb 28, 7:33 AM
Hello Anthony. Sounds like a busy time for you, and I hope we can come to an agreement. Your price offer is lower than I anticipated, but I think I have come to a good solution that fits with your offer. I've attached a picture of Craztessgus 90, a new artwork I've designed just for you. In this work, the number of motifs is adjusted from 38 whole figures to 38 x 4500/5000 = 34, or 90 percent of the original number of figures to correspond with the 10 percent price reduction.
This new version has a certain aesthetic that I find quite appealing. I believe you and your wife will enjoy the work even more given that it now has a personal touch reflecting the diminished nature of our transaction. I am reminded of the words of the French-American painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp:
“What art is, in reality, is this missing link, not the links which exist. It's not what you see that is art; art is the gap.” – Marcel Duchamp
I hope this work touches your soul the way it touches mine. Please let me know at your earliest convenience how much you love Craztessgus 90, and we can swiftly move forward!
Will he buy it? Both the story AND the artwork?
Feb 29, 2020, 12:15 AM (1 day ago)
Thanks for the kind reply, i will like to proceed with the purchase of Craztessgus at the price $5000. I think it really worth it. Kindly send me your phone number, full name and contact address so i can issue out the payment without any further delay. Thank you!
He will buy! Yes, Mr. Richard, it really worth it!
Feb 29, 2020, 8:48 AM
Super! So do you want the original Craztessgus with 38 complete guys for $5000, or Craztessgus 90 with 34 complete guys (38 guys x 90%)? The price for Craztessgus 90 is $4500 ($5000 x 90%) and was made to fit with your offer. Is it so that you would like Craztessgus "100", the original with 100% of the art motifs?
How exciting! I will speak with my bank representative today about the best way to transfer money to give you privacy (I know you don't want to spoil the surprise with your wife!) and to make things as cheap and fast as possible with the transfer of funds.
Please let me know if it is Craztessgus or Craztessgus 90 you would like.
I do hope it is Craztessgus 90 he wants. But alas....
Feb 29, 2020, 6:36 PM
Yes i want the original Craztessgus. Thank you!
Damn! I go to all this trouble to make Craztessgus 90 and he doesn't even want it. He wants the original. Can't blame him, it looks so good as a fake painting in a fake museum picture. Oh well, maybe I can get Craztessgus 90 in the Louvre next year.
But what now? I don't really want to give him my address. And I want him to suffer a little bit more than just losing postage on a check. Maybe I can get him to do a bit of work.
Mon, Mar 2, 8:23 PM
Hello Anthony! I have spoken to the bank. I don't know if you have done business in Scandanavia before, but there are many rules in banking. I was a bit worried we may not be able to process the payment quickly, but I have found two options for you, either one of which will be quick and low cost:
(1) I have another company that you can use for credit card or PayPal. The company name that will appear on your bill is "Forever Scabs". Your wife would certainly not expect that you are purchasing artwork for her! If this is a good option for you I will send you a credit card invoice to your email and you can just click on the link to complete payment. The credit card transaction cost is very low and I will carry that cost. We will not need to wait for funds to clear at all.
(2) A bank cheque from a foreign bank is ok, but a check of this size they will charge me a 3.9% fee which I think is quite high. On a $5000 check, that fee is $195! Part of that fee, I think, is for the extra security measures they take with large amounts of foreign currency. The government is very concerned with white-washing and funding of terrorist organizations. This means that foreign funds in large amounts need to get cleared by INTERPOL. I'm sure there would be no problems (neither one of us is part of a terrorist organization, I'm sure!), but clearing a check of that size through my bank can take longer, and I know that speed is of the essence!
If you must pay by check, however, I have found a GREAT solution! At my local branch of Bank of Ethel there is no fee for checks under $100, and these checks clear MUCH quicker. They "fly under the radar" as you say in your country. This will save a lot of time and money!
If you wish to pay by check, we simply need to break the payment into 51 checks, each of $98.04. I know this is inconvenient for you, so instead you can send 50 checks of $99 for a total of $4950. This will be a discount of $50, which you deserve for the extra trouble. (Perhaps you can use the extra money to buy your wife a nice bottle of perfume? I can recommend Yves Saint Laurent's Eau de chair pourre!) In any case, I like the idea of "beating the system" -- together we will "beat the bank at their own game"!
Please let me know right away if (1) you'd like for me to send you a digital credit card invoice from Forever Scabs, or if (2) you'd like to go ahead with sending 50 checks. The processing will cost you nothing in either case and the clearing of funds is much faster.
I am excited to work with you to help make your wife's dream come true!
After sending, I realized he may not like the idea of sending small checks because then I can just deposit the fair amount. I also realize that the scam may be originating from a Francophone country and he may know that "Eau de chair pourre" is probably not a real scent. Fingers crossed!
Fri, Mar 6, 3:34 PM (3 days ago)
Hello Mr Richard! I haven't heard back from you. I have investigated and come up with two ways to pay quickly and keep the art purchase a surprise. I hope you don't think my methods are too complicated, or that we are trying to "cheat the bank" with these methods. The bank sets the rules and there is nothing unethical about following their own rules!
With either of these, we can process your purchase quickly. Please let me know whether I shall send you an electronic invoice for payment under my other company name, of if you want payment information to send me checks in smaller amounts to big fees.
I want to help you any way I can to get your artwork quickly!
No response. I lost the sale. I am saddened, but glad at least I never sent my address.
Anyone wanna buy Craztessgus or Craztessgus 90*? Yes, ecib, you'll get your cut.