…with demand for your work?

If so, this email I recently received might be just the thing:

Dear Sir and madam
Allow me to introduce ourselves: We are the Oil Painting Studio.
We would like to offer our painting and giclee prints services to you.
In our studio we have 30 highly skilled professional artists with over 12 years of
experience creating paintings for our international clientele. We have worked
creatively worldwide with a large number of commercial enterprises, professional artists and galleries in Europe
and America. They all praise our professional high quality of production and artistic
workmanship. Many of our clients use our works for their business and art displays…
We safely and professionally pack and ship your paintings through FedEx or
DHL. Please send us an email today describing what is your desired topic to be painted, and some indication of
the approximate size. In return we will send you a pricelist. The Shipping cost is
based on your location and the size and dimensions of the painting or paintings required.
I hope that we will have a chance to cooperation and be good friends!
We are Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards
The Oil Painting Studio

Aside from the entertaining English (I didn’t know you could have “me” as the antecedent to “ourselves”), I’ve been laboring under the quaint notion that original art should come from the artist’s inspiration and passion for the material – not subject to mail-order mass-merchandising assembly-line production. Or is that just so…last century?

45 Responses to “Having Trouble Keeping Up…”
  1. Susan Fox says:

    Recently spotted a rip-off of a Daniel Smith painting on eBay. Dropped him an email and got a reply back that it’s an on-going problem. As soon as one is removed by their request, another shows up.

    There appears to be an entire city in China that specializes in the kind of thing described above.

  2. Julie Chapman says:

    Sigh. Was the eBay ripoff posted as “Daniel Smith”, or as something else? I haven’t yet tried to search for anyone ripping off my work; if I found a fake, I wouldn’t know whether to be insulted or flattered (or both?).

  3. Marti Millington says:

    I have found – on the internet (not necessarily on ebay) – copies of American artists’ work being sold as “originals”. These tend to come from China but other Asian countries as well. And ebay has numerous “original paintings” (mass produced copies of other artists’ work) with an origin point of China. I found Terry Isaac’s polar bear (cover of “The Best of Wildlife Art”) being sold as an “original embroidery painting” through a website based overseas. They had many others. At a Bartlett Illinois art fair, this lovely little asian lady was selling those mass produced embroidery “paintings” as HER originals.

    As an aside – I just received an email from AbdulKareem Omar who would like to purchase 3 of my originals for his new home in Dubai, UAE. Right. ;-o

  4. larry jewett says:

    “AbdulKareem Omar” sounds a little too much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

    Don’t these email ripoff “artists” have any creativity at all?

  5. Susan Fox says:

    No, the painting wasn’t identified as a Daniel Smith. But it was a dead-on copy of “Intolerance”, the elephant charging the two lionesses. And the seller location was, wait for it, China. It sounds like Daniel and his wife cruise eBay regularly to find the rip-offs.

    Marti, I got that same email last week. I went back and forth and decided to answer as if it was real. Grammar was ok. He had a list of three specific paintings, not the usual “items”. Nothing about shipping, another giveaway. He said that his wife would be in California for a conference in Dec. and would pick up the work at “your gallery”. I wrote back and told him that I sold out of my studio, that I could ship the work to where his wife was, that I accept payment by cash or credit card through Paypal and that the work could be returned if it wasn’t suitable. I haven’t heard anything. It may have been a fake, but no harm is done that I know of and I haven’t eliminated the possibility that it’s legit. I think eventually one will be given the subject matter that I specialize in.

    Artist’s work is easily visible in most every country now. I get hits from all over the world every day on my blog. So, how WOULD a legit buyer like Abdul contact one of us if he wanted to buy something? He already had my email address and I’m in about a dozen places all over the web, so it’s not like I’m risking my anonymity.

  6. larry jewett says:

    “Allow me to introduce ourselves: ”

    Julie:

    That may be an indication of more than just a language problem.

    My guess is Dissociative identity disorder (aka, multiple personality disorder) The “30 highly skilled professional artists” is probably really just one guy in his studio doing all the painting.

  7. Marti Millington says:

    Susan – I checked the AFC website and AbdulKareem Omar was also soliciting others as AbdulKadir Omar with a totally different email address. My email came from rocketmail.com. Same thing, tho – wife in states for conference, etc. Checking the email header reveals the traffic originated from Nigeria…go figure!

  8. Joni Johnson-Godsy says:

    It would be interesting to know how many people heard from our friend AbdulKareem. I heard from this same scammer. I just don’t answer emails like that. There are certain questions that buyers ask when wanting to purchase art over our websites. If a buyer seems too anxious to buy and doesn’t ask any of the typical questions…it’s a dead give away, not to even mention the lousy English.

    Earlier this year I got a phone call from a gal in Alaska that wanted to by a giclee of a particular image of mine. She saw it in Costco, decided that she wanted it and when she went back to get it, it had sold (there evidently was only one in the store). She had written down my name (as it appeared on the giclee print) and the title of the work. I do quite a lot of licensing. Funny…I’ve never licensed this image nor have I released it as a giclee print myself… I was never able to find this ripped-off image on the Costco website. It was likely a regional purchase (from an unscrupulous Asian company) specifically for the Alaskan audience. Copyrights are not all that useful when the perpetrator is over seas.

  9. Susan Fox says:

    Marti- if you want to write up a checklist on how to tell if an email like Abdul’s is a probably a fake, like checking the heading and any other info that artists can use, I’d love to post it on my blog and Facebook page.

    Where did you check on the AFC site? I don’t see him listed under possible scammers.

    Mine was from AbdulKadir Omar and the address was yahoo.co.uk.

    So, what’s interesting is that no one we know of has gotten a follow-up with the shipping nonsense. Anyone care to speculate on what he’s after?

    Joni- Hi! He didn’t seem anxious, so that was one reason I thought it might be legit. I would love it if you could help out by sending me or posting here the typical questions you would expect.
    Some of us haven’t been out in the market as long as some of you and would benefit from your experience.
    Sorry to hear about what happened to you.

    What would be nice is to have some kind of “clearinghouse” where people could post queries like this and then we could see what’s going on and if there is a pattern. Now it’s obvious, but it wasn’t when I got it (unlike for Marti, apparently) and it didn’t occur to me that there was any way to check him out.

    I’d be willing to start a new blog (which takes about three minutes on WordPress) for that purpose. Someone could email me a copy of something like the email from Abdul, I’d post it and then see what comments come in. Thoughts?

  10. Marti Millington says:

    Susan – AbdulKadir is #7 on the AFC list of scammers and there are 5 artists who have heard from him – same email address as you gave. I think the biggest “red flag” for me was the fact that he wanted art for “his new home in Dubai”. I’m a little skeptical of overseas “purchasers”. Whenever I get an email like that, I view the message header. I don’t use Outlook, but I think it is the same for most email programs. In your email program, click on “view” then “headers”, then “all”. This shows the routing of the email and the time. The email I got went through 7 different ISP addresses (NOT NORMAL) – so I looked at the earliest one: Received: from [196.46.245.21] by web114112.mail.gq1.yahoo.com via HTTP; Wed, 25 Nov 2009 14:14:40 PST. I checked the ISP address (196.46.245.21) in Domain Tools (www.domaintools.com) – and found the email originated at an ISP located in Nigeria.

  11. Marti Millington says:

    The BIG thing we must ALL be aware of is an overseas buyer (or any buyer) wishing to pay through a “bank transfer” where you must provide your bank information – i.e. routing number and account number. If they can put money in – they can take money OUT with that information. I always insist on payment through PayPal, which gives buyers a number of payment choices.

  12. Susan Fox says:

    Maybe telling him that I accept payment only through Paypal (which is exactly why I did that) was why I haven’t heard from him again ;0).

  13. Susan Fox says:

    Guy Combes also got the same email, replied and got an answer back, which revealed the next step of the scam, the money transfer. He called me to see if I thought it was real or a scam and forwarded me the emails. Being more “international” than most of us, the Dubai buyer wasn’t an instant red flag to him, but he still wondered. Just for giggles, he’s going to write back and say, so sorry, I only accept Paypal, then see if he hears from the guy, or whoever, again.

    He will also be artist #7 to report it to AFC. One of the others said that the second email from “Abdul” listed paintings from a different AFC member, so maybe that’s where they’re getting our names.

  14. Julie Chapman says:

    My own experience with email scammers is that they almost always:
    - list 3 works of mine by title
    - seem breathlessly excited about the works
    - tell me it’s a gift for a wife/girlfriend/diplomat/who cares
    - want them shipped PRONTO with all the nonsense about sending a check for more than the price of the works plus shipping

    What usually gives it away is that the scammer asks for the prices on the paintings; if the person found these images from my website (most likely) or any of my galleries, the price is shown plain as day. Hello! how stupid are we?

    Real collectors do things like tell me where they saw my work, mention work of mine they like, ask more about my style or subject matter, ask me to let them know when I’ll next do a painting of a particular subject, and so on – they’re engaging in a conversation, not a holdup.

  15. Joni Johnson-Godsy says:

    Susan,

    The AFC website indexes extremely well on search engines. There is little doubt that this in one source of artists names for these scammers.

    I’ve gotten several different “styles” of scam emails. One style is very much like Julie describes above. The other however, is quite different. I don’t list my prices on my website or anywhere else on the web. When an email arrives with a very enthusiastic and anxious buyer asking to buy my art without mentioning titles, and they never even ask for the price…?…not a good sign. A real buyer is VERY interested in the price. Some even ask about the frame a piece is in. They are warm and conversational. They ask questions about the piece they are interested in. It’s just so different from the “formula” type emails that come in from the scammers.

    I did have one situation though that was confusing awhile back. A buyer from Canada inquired about a painting. At first I wasn’t sure about it. But my husband (who is a master techy) checked out the email address. It was legit. This person did end up buying the painting. So it is not always completely cut and dry. But there are tendencies. Bad English is a starter. And a buyer who is wanting to buy your art in a hurry…not good either.

  16. Marti Millington says:

    Heads up folks – another scammer on the prowl. I recently received this email from one Peter Williams.
    —–
    Hello,
    I have visited your website and i am very impressed by the collections of artwork you have on display. I will like to buy this piece:
    “Attitude”
    I will like to know how much this cost and the shipping cost to this address 199 Khalifa Bin Shakhbut St
    Abu Dhabi, UAE and also if you accept mastercard as a method of payment.
    Kindly get back to me asap.
    Best Regards
    ——-
    I checked the email origin and it came from Leeds, England. I also checked my website and indeed, someone from Leeds visited my site and went to the trouble of visiting my contact page. Interestingly enough, he landed at my website by clicking through from the link on my AFC website.

    I have responded to this “buyer” with instructions as to cost and how to pay. I will drop dead if he actually does!

  17. Susan Fox says:

    Got the same one this morning.

  18. Joni Johnson-Godsy says:

    This email that Marit received is typical of one that I wouldn’t respond to. It has scam written all over it and is not really worth a response. These people who do this must ocassionally be successful or they wouldn’t bother artists. That once in a while success just keeps them trying.

  19. Joni Johnson-Godsy says:

    Sorry Marti, I miss spelled your name. Bad spelling…must be a scam!

  20. Julie Chapman says:

    Marti – oh yeah, total fail on that email.

  21. Marti Millington says:

    Folks – I knew the email I received was a scam – i.e. email originated in the UK but wanted me to ship to UAE (DUH!). I wanted to respond to it just to see how far it would go. The paypal/verified account message that I sent to the “buyer” sent him crawling back under his rock.

  22. Joni Johnson-Godsy says:

    I did that once, baited a scammer and even got them to send me a check! (to my P.O. box)…couldn’t believe it. I called the local FBI and talked to the head of it hear in Kansas City. Since Internet scams are so rampant and they cross international lines, of course there was really nothing that they could do. He did however ask me to send him the check. I knew from the beginning that nothing would come from it, but it was fun playing detective for a short while. Makes me glad I’m an artist and NOT a detective… :-)

  23. Kelly Singleton says:

    Me three…on getting the email from Peter Williams.

  24. Julie Chapman says:

    Joni, that would be pretty fun – bait a scammer and see how much info you can get and how far FBI could go with it! Hmm…worth a try. Maybe if enough of us did this we could start to make it not worth their while. Fun thought!!

  25. Sue Walters says:

    I just did a search on the address ‘John Kingston’ left me and sure enough, it’s the same scam artist. I just wanted to drop a line here as a heads up to other artists. Regards,
    Sue:)
    Scam email address:johntripplek@yahoo.co.uk
    Hello,
    I have visited your website and i am very impressed by the wonderful pieces you have on display. I will like to buy this piece:
    ‘From Here To There 1′
    7″ x 10″ Graphite pencil.
    I will like to know how much this costs and the shipping cost to this address 199 Khalifa Bin Shakhbut St Abu Dhabi, UAE and also if you accept mastercard as a method of payment.
    Kindly get back to me asap.
    Best Regards

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