I recently experienced an art scam which the art community should read about in hope that it acts as a warning.
by Gregory Strachov
I received an email from someone who was interested in surprising his wife with one of my paintings. He said that he was a biologist who was out at sea doing research. He also said that he saw that his wife, in California, loved my work and that their anniversary was soon approaching. I sent him some images and prices of my work and he selected a $4,800 painting.
A week later, I received a check for $10,000 and later that day, he sent me an email asking me to “please pay the shipper when he arrives to pick up the painting.” He then sent an email asking me to send the balance of the check to California, to the main office of the moving company. My bank had a 12-day hold on the check! He became upset when he learned of the hold and said he would call his bank to get it cleared sooner.
A few days later he emailed me and said that the check had been cleared and to go to a specific bank to send the check to the shipper. I waited and then went to my own bank and asked if the check was clear and learned that it would be less expensive if I go to the bank that he recommended. I asked the bank representative to investigate if the check that he sent was in my account. When she opened her computer, she found that the $10,000 check had a stop-payment put on it ten minutes ago. If I didn’t stop at my bank and instead simply went to his, the funds would have come out of my own savings since his money was no longer there.
My advise to all artists is be careful when you deal with email or telephone customers. I called the FBI about this and they instructed me to go to their website and file a report. I was a little surprised at this too because I would file this report and never know if there was something done. Be aware!
About Gregory Strachov: Gregory Strachov has exhibited at the Chateau Musee’ in Cagnes sur Mer, France, and received a gold medal for lifetime achievement in art by the Butler Institute of American Art, an honor he shares with John Singer Sargent and Robert Rauschenberg. Visit Gregory’s website at www.strachovstudio.com, and click here to browse articles that feature his work and painting techniques.