Post #1091 • November 27, 2007, 7:57 AM • 13 Comments
Last week I received the following e-mail.
i will like to purchase some of your artwork as agift for my daughter whose wedding is coming up soon and i will like to inform you that my payment will be through cashier check if this is accepted by you kindly get back to me with your website address for me to choose from.
Thank you for your interest. A cashier's check will be fine as long as it's in US dollars and made out for the exact price of the work plus shipping, which I will tally for you. (I will not refund any overage on the amount, as this is a common Internet fraud.)
Thanks again - I look forward to hearing from you.
Needless to say, I did not.
The linguistic infelicities are a red flag on something like this, but scammers only ever become more sophisticated (and sometimes, legitimate clients don't write well), so it's worth knowing the racket if you have your art posted online. It goes like this: the buyer produces a counterfeit cashier's check for an amount greater than the agreed-upon price. You quote $2000, he sends a check for $2400. When you tell him about the overage, he apologizes and asks you to include a check for the difference along with the art. You send him the art and a check for $400, his check turns out to be bogus, and you're out of luck. Especially when drawn on a foriegn bank, it can take a while for checks to clear - the scammer is hoping for a sufficiently long delay that you'll send the goods before you find out his check is bad. Afterwards you can run into trouble with your own bank for trying to deposit a fraudulent check.
You can either tell him what I told him or insist on being payed through PayPal. I've sold art and t-shirts through PayPal, and have bought a few things too (including my TMFOM ad at tcj.com). There are noticiable transaction costs (comparable to taking credit cards), but you can factor them into your prices, and thus far it has worked for me with perfect reliability.