Sculpture Community - Sculpture.net  

Go Back  Sculpture Community - Sculpture.net > Community Announcements > Sculpture News and Events
User Name
Password
Home Sculpture Community Photo Gallery ISC Sculpture.org Register FAQ Members List Search New posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-24-2004, 04:54 PM
Tom Antonishak Tom Antonishak is offline
Level 1 user
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 4
Exclamation Beware of sculpture scams!

WARNING: Sculptor/Artist scam

I apologize for the length of this message, but I thought you would want to know.

The old clique, “…go with your first instincts” and “beware of those red flags” are there for a reason.

There once was a sculptor (me) who over the years of business still has that deep down hope that most people are honest and kind. Of course dealing with galleries, clients and (yes) friends, you know that the percentage of honest people seems to be dwindling considerably. Take for instance what happened to me recently. I tell this as a warning to all in the art business:

A few weeks back, my wife received an AT&T relay phone call on our home phone number. A bit confused about what a relay call was, I told her to hang up and that it was no doubt a telemarketer. No more than a minute later the phone rang again and I answered it. On the phone was an AT&T relay operator again, stating he had a call for me. As we went through the process of having the party on the other end either write or speak in a different language, than having the AT&T operator read back the conversation, the same was done for my side of the conversation, the party in short was a woman in Madrid, Spain (which has plenty of good sculptors of their own). Mary, as who she claimed to be, was interested in having a sculpture commissioned. My first response to her was to look at my web site and see if my work and style would fit her needs. She said that her and the curator and manager of a local museum were looking at my web site at the very time (only my studio phone number is listed on the web site). Of course I didn’t recognize the name of the museum. As time went on, they (meaning Mary and the operator) asking about a recent large commission piece and going over prices (and she seem to asking all of the right questions, including the possibility of having a show in Madrid) and time frame. We settled on the subject (a nursing mother with child) and size. The first really big red flag went up when she claimed that she had to know immediately if I would do this commission because her husband’s agent was in the states and he would be able to move along the project and contact me about the shipping details. During this lengthy conversation, I turned down the job twice, even asking if this was a money laundering scam (do you think she would of told me the truth). As naive as I was, I listened on. The piece was to be completed by Dec. 27th and shipped overseas to be cast in Spain because it was so much cheaper over there. Concerned about the clay melting on route, she reassured me that they would be responsible for that and because they ship across the Atlantic all of the time, their sources would be aware of how to handle a clay sculpture. I said yes to the commission and once the price was confirmed, Mary was to send a cashiers check for the price of the piece and $4,000. extra for the shipping. Shipping is very expensive she said. This was the second red flag that went up. I said that that was too much for the shipping and I would also have to send out a contract. (Usually you work with agents and reputable contacts and companies) Asked to trust her, she wanted me to send the extra $4000. to the shipping company via Western Union as soon as the check came in. My first question was why don’t you send the shipping yourself or have you husband’s agent do that. To make an even longer story shorter, I agreed (don’t laugh) that once her check clears, I would send the money out to the shipping company, but I said that $4,000. was too much. We agreed on just $1,500. would be sent after the check cleared.

The next day, instructions for the shipping arrived via e-mail. She insisted that once the check arrived, I was to take it to a check-cashing place and immediately send the extra money, less expenses, to a location in Norway. (Red Flag number three)
During the next few days, I received a number of e-mails and relay phone calls asking if the check had come in and each contact it stated that I was to send the shipping money to Norway right away. Each time, I would state that the check would have to clear first, of course to her disliking.

Meanwhile I began the sculpture. (I know that I should wait, but having some time on my hand, and being concern about the tight deadline, I started anyways).

As each day past, I was expecting the check to arrive. I also received a few calls from Mary asking if I could call the post office to see if they had it in route. Thinking that Spain’s post office must be so much nicer than ours that you could call them up to see what mail would be arriving that day. Our mail lately has been delivered anytime between 3:00pm and 5:00pm, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to cash the check the day it comes in. Mary called to ask what time I expected the mail to be delivered. Surprisingly, the mail came 2:30 this magical day, and looking it over, I couldn’t make out the canceling stamp on the envelope (a mini red flag). Although there was a European looking airmail sticker on the envelope. After I opened the envelope, I notice that the check was a bit thin, but I wasn’t an expert. There also wasn’t an address of the bank on the check that the money was to be drawn from, another flag. I went straight up to my bank and asked how long it would take for this check to clear. The teller told me that it would be 5-7 business days. I questioned her about some of my concerns about the check and as the assistant manger looked at it she noticed three things that bothered her about it…more red flags.
The bank tracked down the routing number on the check and found out that it was from a bank in Florida. Calling that bank we found out that this was a fraudulent check.

After going to the local police, talking to the FBI, and also the Secret Service, it comes down to, because it was overseas (it very well could be across the street) and I did not loose any money, no one wanted to do anything about it. The bank may still proceed in investigating it at this time.

Some other red flags that I noticed, but didn’t react on were that she never answered my questions about the number of castings or price I would receive for each casting. When she did call during the time of concern about the check, she never asked how the sculpture was coming along or if I would have any problems making the deadline. Also the operators never could tell me where the phone calls were originating from when I asked. It seems like I asked the questions, but didn’t pay attention to the answers, besides they are going to tell you what you want to hear anyways.

Basically, I just wanted other artist to know that as often as we want to trust everyone, or is it as often as we want the money, you have to go with your first instincts and handle commissions the correct way. Problems persist even with the best intentions on both sides of a GOOD commission.

Be careful and watch out for those red flags (big or small). You hear about these scams and you are always aware of them, but they can catch you off guard. Artists are such easy marks…we all want to paint or sculpt. It doesn’t take much to make artists happy, a little praise and a little (or a lot) of money. As the Secret Agent mentioned, I was fortunate {I like to think that I was smart enough}, a lot of people fall for this scam.

Best regards,
Tom Antonishak

- Please send this onto whomever you feel needs to be warned!
- Oh, by the way, I have a new beautiful sculpture of a mother nursing a tiny baby for sale, if anyone is interested!.
- Happy Holiday

www.antonishak.comwww.antonishak.com
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 11-24-2004, 05:03 PM
jvc stone jvc stone is offline
Level 6 user
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 120
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Same scam, but different principals, as the one I posted about (a gentle heads up) . I really hope no one actually gets taken by these folks, and I do hope you can sell the piece you made for them. In my case, the buyer was purchasing a piece I had in inventory.
John VanCamp / JVC Stoneworks
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-25-2004, 12:52 AM
fused fused is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 801
Re: It's the time of the season

This seems very obviously bad. If you have a deal with someone, get the money deposited (and credited) to your account before taking on any expenses towards starting a new piece of sculpture. Unless it's something you are working on regardless of the "commission." Nothing wrong with having a new piece around.

I've been receiving bogus/fraud emails regularly telling me to "follow the link" and update my eBay, Paypal, Citibank, credit cards, etc. etc.

Remember, there's always free cheese in a mouse trap.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 11-25-2004, 11:15 PM
JAZ's Avatar
JAZ JAZ is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Massachsetts
Posts: 1,776
Re: It's the time of the season

Both of you, thanks for posting these warnings. Too bad we have to worry about such things. But awareness is a helpful defensive strategy. If something doesn't sound right, it probably isn't. A little street savvy can save a lot of grief.
Here's hoping you don't have any more problems like this.
JAZ
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 02-03-2005, 07:42 PM
Sysiphus Sysiphus is offline
Level 4 user
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 56
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

thanks for this head's up. i just today received an email from someone wainting a piece of my art, to be shipped to nigeria. as i read the email, from the language the demands and quirks, i realized immediately it was the same scam but via email instead of phone call. i wanted to thank tom and let people know that 'they' are still out there and still trying.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 02-06-2005, 09:40 PM
icreate icreate is offline
Level 8 user
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 184
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I too had the same thing happen last november. I did not start on the sculpture, check came bank said it was a fraud. I called local television station and papers. I wanted someone to record it, tell others. If you look up relay scam you will find many things on it. The way I knew was the operator actually called me back, very against rules, and warned me. The man made 5 other calls, probably coming from nigeria. The sad part is that they are using the tty system set up for the deaf. And when the deaf people are trying to place orders they are being treated as if they are criminals. I read other stories about the tty systems being paid for by guess who? You and I. I guess it is part of the phone bill that we all look at and ask, why am I paying an extra $1.00 $2.00 $4.00

I do have a copy of the check. As well as taped conversations for the media. If you can get a tv station interested you just might be able to forewarn others.

FBY and others said they wanted nothing to do with it, they were aware of it and had other things to worry about, well not in so many words.

BE warned others have deposited the checks and then called their bank and then the bank gave them money. Only later did the bank decide it was not good. Something about the difference between a check clearing and actual funds, it is not the same thing.

BEWARE EVERYONE

This guy got so desperate as time went on, and I played him like a fiddle. Soon his wife was ill and he needed the shipping money from the shipping company and yada yada yada. I said I felt so sorry for him and would cancel his project right away, no charge. He could take his money and use it for his poor sick wife.

After leading him on for about 3 weeks and taping umpteen phone messages, the tv station asked me to do this. I finally got fed up and told him he was a very bad, bad man. I would be watching him.

Bridgette
__________________
Bridgette Mongeon
http://www.creativesculpture.com
Blog
Twitter

Facebook

Digital Sculpting
http://www.digitalsculpting.net You can also find a lot of information about this on my creativesculpture blog


"A man is what he thinks about all day long"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-22-2005, 07:06 PM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I recently received an email inquiring about a purchase of an existing work from someone obviously outside the US. The wording of the email is rather odd (obviously not a native English speaker) and he mentions issuing a cheque for the price plus shipping. It is entirely possible, even probable, that it is a scam.

My question is, what is in it for them? The point of a scam is to gain money or valuable items essentially for nothing. Say someone sends me a check for a work and I receive the full purchase price plus expenses in advance (though the distinction between "clearing" and actual transfer of funds at the bank is something important to consider). I then send them the work. Now, I think my work is of value, but there is no secondary market for it. My sculpture will be of little value to a non-collector. If the check is a fraud (and it would be interesting to look into liability should the bank later question it's validity), all they gain is my sculpture. Aren't there easier scams to conduct that actually result in the scammer receiving cash or easily liquidated items?

As an independent artist, I don't have a gallery or a representative to shield me from these issues. I have been operating under the assumption that if someone sends me money for a work, and I then ship them the work, that it is a successful transaction. This thread calls that basic assumption into question.
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-22-2005, 08:14 PM
jvc stone jvc stone is offline
Level 6 user
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 120
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Well, in the case that I reported on (a gentle heads up), the instructions were for me to cash the "money order" and forward payment to the shipping company which would then come pick up the sculpture. The person I was dealing with was extremely upset that I had taken the "money order" to my bank instead of an instant cash store. ( it was definitly a phoney). I think the deal is that had I forwarded money to the shipping company, then they would have my money (in my case 3000.00) and no one would ever come to pick up the sculpture. The art work is incidental to the scam, and the "shipping company" is an integral part of the scam
I sincerely hope no one gets taken in by this sort of operation.
JVC
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-22-2005, 08:57 PM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

John, that makes more sense to me. Thank you.
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com

Last edited by sculptorsam : 05-22-2005 at 10:32 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-22-2005, 09:32 PM
iron ant's Avatar
iron ant iron ant is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Mountaintown,GA
Posts: 744
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Thanks for the post,It is bad enough we scratch and claw to make a living being an artist and some bumb thinks we are idiots and we can be scammed.They need to meet my wife,a real red headed scot Irish lass,I believe they would find other people to scam.I got scammed by an art dealer in Tucson ,who convinced me to do a show during the gem show last year.It was a front,I lost my butt,but I did get my work back.Red Flags,red flags,red flags....Mini metal man.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 05-24-2005, 01:47 AM
Araich's Avatar
Araich Araich is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 990
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Is there a way to bait them and have the police involved to catch them out?
__________________
'some australian sculpture...'
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 05-24-2005, 07:28 AM
jvc stone jvc stone is offline
Level 6 user
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 120
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Araich
Is there a way to bait them and have the police involved to catch them out?
I played with my guy for several weeks hoping that I could get something of that sort going. Seems that no one from the local (county sherriff) through federal (FBI) were interested. I quess its just a switch of the old buyer beware adage
Seller Beware
What a world we all now live in.
JVC
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05-31-2005, 06:40 PM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Okay, what would be the most secure way (from my end) to receive money internationally? Money order, wire transfer directly to the bank? Something difficult to forge or have the bank revoke down the road. My thinking is that a con wouldn't be willing to change the payment methond, forged check being integral for their plan, but a legitemate buyer would work with me. Sound reasonable?
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05-31-2005, 07:41 PM
jvc stone jvc stone is offline
Level 6 user
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 120
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Sam,

My first thought when I read your question was the wire transfer, and that might be the most secure way to insure it is a legit deal. However, I'm not so sure about providing my bank information to an unknown entity. Have you visited with your bank about this to see what their recommendation would be. In my case, I was not about to forward any of my money to a shipping company until the payment cleared and was deposited in my account. The head teller at my bank knew immediately that the paper was a forgery. Things like missing watermarks, smooth edges instead of perforated etc. Your bank would be the place to be asking these questions.
Here's hoping you have a real live buyer on the line. Let us know how it comes out.

JVC
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 05-31-2005, 07:59 PM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I had the same thought about giving out my bank number. I know International Money Orders exist and if they're like the national ones I've used in the past, they have to pay cash on the spot to receive them. Of course, you could forge the money order I guess. I might just have to go down to the bank tomorrow.
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06-04-2005, 09:56 AM
Julianna's Avatar
Julianna Julianna is offline
ISC Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Waterloo, ON
Posts: 1,169
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I have recently considered sending stuff as COD so that the courier service can deal with the collection of funds, and the person buying the work won't have to worry about sending money and not getting the sculpture.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 06-07-2005, 10:27 AM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I just got back from the bank, and it looks like wire transfer is the only 100% safe/secure way to go. Money orders, like checks, can be fraudulant and could bounce up to months later. (I am set up to receive Visa/Mastercard but I haven't checked with them yet.) I guess my bank (Wells Fargo) will allow you to receive a transfer without giving your account number out, but they recently had another bank refuse to transfer to them without that number. So, what they suggested (and what I did) is to open up a new (free) account to act as a "buffer." Keeping just a couple bucks in it to keep it active, I can use it to receive funds and then transfer those online to our main account. Wire transfers themselves seem fairly easy, you just need to have the routing number for the bank, the bank address and your account number. Hope this helps anyone.
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 06-07-2005, 01:02 PM
jvc stone jvc stone is offline
Level 6 user
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 120
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Sam,
Please keep us posted as to how the deal progresses.
JVC
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 06-07-2005, 03:43 PM
GaryR52 GaryR52 is offline
Level 10 user
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Seattle
Posts: 673
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sculptorsam
Money orders, like checks, can be fraudulant and could bounce up to months later.
Sorry, but the beauty of money orders is that they can't bounce. They're already paid for in cash by the sender and so, are not promissory notes like checks are. They're backed by cash. Now, if the money order is a fake or a forgery, that's another matter.

Gary
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 06-07-2005, 06:42 PM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryR52
Now, if the money order is a fake or a forgery, that's another matter.

Gary
I believe that was her point. It could be a fake or it could be issued by a fraudulent company. You may not learn it's a fake until after you have shipped the work, is which case you're SOL.
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 06-13-2005, 09:47 AM
oddist's Avatar
oddist oddist is offline
ISC Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New England
Posts: 524
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I came across this and thought it might belong under "Sculpture Scams."

http://www.sculpturecenter.org/forum...sp?Number=2358

Maybe the looking for works of art from sculptors is just the beginning?
__________________
oddist

"Important artists are innovators whose work changes the practices of their successors; important works of art are those that embody these innovations."
Galenson, David W. Old Masters and young geniuses, Princeton University Press, 2006
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 06-29-2005, 06:34 AM
STRETCH STRETCH is offline
Level 1 user
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: kansas City, MO.
Posts: 3
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Yes, I too have had this phony contact me via email..Benjimin from Finland, He wanted 3 sculptures, he would send a check plus shipping then his assisatant would be over to make final arrangements.. He emailed several times asking about the check if it had arrived yet.. We sent several replies asking where the work is going,what kind of collection he has and the basic other barrage of questioning when we get excited about a sale or a new show...His response to those or if he responded at all was broken english (typing) or none at all.. We tried to google his name....guess what ..nothing.. this went on for a month... we just recently tried to email and the message was sent back....BEWARE.....STRETCH
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-05-2005, 11:51 AM
oddist's Avatar
oddist oddist is offline
ISC Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: New England
Posts: 524
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Big article in Art Calendar this month called "International Scam Alert." There's one out of NYC, London, Johannesburg South Africa, Nigeria, Finland, and probably other locals.

Check with http://www.scambusters.org for more info on scams and if scammed by e-mail you can contact the FBI's Internet Fraud web site (www.ifccfbi.gov)
__________________
oddist

"Important artists are innovators whose work changes the practices of their successors; important works of art are those that embody these innovations."
Galenson, David W. Old Masters and young geniuses, Princeton University Press, 2006
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-07-2005, 09:24 AM
sculptorsam's Avatar
sculptorsam sculptorsam is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: MN
Posts: 823
Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

I think STRETCH and I must have been dealing with the same person.

Just as an update, since informing him that I would only accept a wire transfer as payment I haven't heard from him since. Hopefully the internet can help spread the word far and wide so these guys are put out of business.
__________________
www.sculptorsam.com
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 09-05-2005, 12:13 AM
rjconnolly rjconnolly is offline
Level 1 user
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: California
Posts: 1
Cool Re: Beware of sculpture scams!

Just so everyone knows, this type of scam is being used in all sorts of businesses. I work in a small used bookstore and we had a couple of these calls about books we had for sale. The first time I just refered the "caller" to another store without knowing about the scam. My boss told me that ABEbooks had a warning on their forum, so the next call I got I just cut off. Even Payless Shoes got calls using the same scam, so it's not that artists are being targeted so much as everyone who is trying to do legitimate business. So it might be helpful to mention this type of scam to anyone we know who has a business.
__________________
Robin
Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


Sculpture Community, Sculpture.net
International Sculpture Center, Sculpture.org
vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Russ RuBert