It is 50/50 good news and bad news today as I got hit by my first scam. The bad news is that there are art scams floating around, and this one was almost convincing. The good news is I am set up well enough business wise that I didn't fall for it. I guess that is reassuring if nothing else.
I got requested through one of my online art galleries to put a price-list together for some paintings and their shipping cost to an address in Saudi Arabia so they could be put in an art gallery in Riyadh. After a bit of correspondence it started to sound too good to be true - ok so actually you are working on an oil rig in the Muscat sea and about to set up a gallery, for fun, during retirement - money is no object and you want to buy 9 of my largest paintings, with a view to doing repeat business? Hmmmm I don't like this........I feel uneasy in my shoulder blades.....sleep eludes me....... I have been brought up on a diet of Agatha Christie novels and I have a wickedly accurate spidy sense - I need to look at this closer....So, your English is good but not perfect yet you have a curiously English name? What's this? You can't pay by Paypal as it doesn't work in Saudi Arabia and you want me to charge your card directly using a merchant account so you can give me your card details? (Not true, PayPal does work) I don't think you need the registered card address to use a merchant account either. Stolen credit card? Google Earth - your shipping address looks a bit dodgy. Did you know there is a typo in your email address where you have spelt your surname wrong?
It turns out it is a relatively well known scam that usually applies to cars or electronic goods not paintings. Apparently they will send you the money using a stolen credit card and either over pay, pay extra for shipping, or do something strange. They will then ask you to wire the extra money somewhere else and then run off with it leaving you to fit the bill when the stolen money is repossessed. Either that or they will do a similar thing using PayPal and send you a fake payment confirmation email. Whatever you do, always check and log into your real account.
Nightmare. So please look out for Richard Tristram - email@example.com, people that say they work on oil rigs and are far too free with their money, who might have issues using PayPal...If it is too good to be true it probably is!
Things to look out for:
1. An email address with lots of extra numbers and letters.
2. A name that doesn't seem to match who they are.
3. A lack of concern about the price of anything.
4. An inability to pay using conventional methods.
5. A dubious looking shipping address.
6. NEVER return any money - contact your bank/PayPal for advice.
7. ALWAYS log on to your own account to check for payment.
8. GOOGLE IT - the address, the name, the letter - someone will have come across the same thing if it is a scam.
So I was almost rich, and almost a lot poorer! Oh well, test 1 complete..... Pass.