Sunday, March 21, 2010

I smell a rat

I received an e-mail yesterday from a person named Stan, who had a address. Stan had apparently been on my website and had seen a drawing of mine that he said he wanted to buy right away for the wall of his new apartment. Stan had also visited the page on my website which gave purchasing instructions because he followed my suggestion to copy and paste the title of the work in the subject of his e-mail. Since Stan mentioned that he was in California I looked up the current exchange rate between the US and Canadian dollars and I replied to Stan with the price of the drawing in US dollars and I requested that Stan give me his address so I could calculate the cost of shipping, to add that cost to the drawing.

Here is Stan's reply:

Thanks for the message, I am very happy to know that the Pieces is still available for sale. i must tell you i am very much interested in the immediate purchase.I will like to let you know that your payment will be in form of a Certified Check.You dont have to worry about packing, insurance and tax because my shipper will be in the best position to do that as soon as you get the payment.This is because i will be traveling out of the country any moment from now for a business proposal.So get back to me with the information needed to send you the payment I:E :
Full Name
Standard Address
Phone number
Asking price reconfirmation

so that i can proceed in the payment arrangement, consider it sold get back to me asap with needed information.

OK, now red flags came up and I started to smell a rat. There was something not quite right here. First of all the structure of this answer sounded more like an automated response from a business, instead of a purchaser completing a purchase. Forget, for a moment, the clumsy spelling, grammar and phrasing. The insistence that I supply my name, address and phone number seemed to add more stench to this transaction since it was obvious Stan had already visited the page of purchase instructions which contained my name, address and phone number. In each message there was this "asap" urgency as well.

I responded that I've never heard of a purchaser sending their own shipper to my studio to collect the work and said I prefer to pack and ship purchases to clients myself. I said if he was still interested in purchasing the drawing I needed his address. Stan's reply was short. He said I didn't need his address because his shipper would be coming to my "place to pick up the pieces" (remember, I'm in Canada and he says he's in California). I replied, again, that I didn't do business that way and I suggested he supply me with the name and phone of his shipper.

Here is Stan's reply:
Thanks for the details which Ive noted down and have also forwarded it to my shipper.He's due in the US sometime next week and will definitely be getting in touch with you for the pickup.The truth is, I would have handled this much differently if i would be at home but Im a bit pressed for time myself. Im moving to the UK this month as im being transferred.As it is, I'm sending you an overdraft which will include my shippers fees as well.He has asked for an upfront before coming and since I have no access to a lot of cash, Im trying to kill two birds with a stone.So, once you've received and cashed the check, deduct your funds and PLEASE help me send the remaining funds to him(shipper).I'll forward his contact details to you once you've received the payment.Now I'm concluding you are a responsible person and I can therefore entrust you with this arrangement.Ill let you know Immediately the check is sent out to you so you should be looking out for it.

P.S:I`ll require that a reconfirmation of your address is done for me now. I await your reply.

Now there's more than the smell of a rat. I smell an outhouse in August. His shipper has been out of the US and will be returning next week. Well, Stan, I am out of the US, in case you haven't picked that up yet, so your shipper will need to turn around and get back on the plane! You betcher sweet bippy Stan is "trying to kill two birds with a stone". He's trying to get one of my drawings and giving me an "overdraft" (this is an admission that his check will bounce). I'm still trying to figure out why I should bail Stan out of his cash shortfall by paying "him(shipper)" Stan's bill.

That is where I've left it. If there's anything more from Stan I'll let you know. Stan may have concluded that I am a responsible person and that he can entrust me with this arrangement of his, but the feeling is not mutual. Folks, if it's too good to be true; chances are, it isn't. And this one has the smell of something that definitely isn't.


kurtwest said...

Well done Jim.

Stan's profile...
New apartment in California.
Out of town in the UK.
Oh, being transfered to the UK.
Short of cash for artwork.
Wants you to pay.

Ya, smelly guy.

Yours Truly,

TMCPhoto said...

This is a con that has been around for a while and one of the reasons that my policy is to wait for payment to clear before I will send an item and also why I've made the decision to request payment via Paypal instead of personal cheques and money orders.

Great sense of smell though

Amie Roman said...

Yup this is a con - have got this runaround about three times now since I've posted my stuff on the internet, and always with "we'll pay you more than the piece is worth to cover shipping" in bank draft. Yeah, right. I have stuff for sale on Etsy, and that's where I send people. If my piece isn't available there, I'll happily post it there. Etsy deals with all money transactions thru PayPal, and I only have to pay a small service charge. Worth the cost to me.

Glad your little suspicion cells were on full alert; what a pain!