Saturday, November 03, 2012


I suppose I was too cocky and shouldn't have shared my "Debbie from New York" story with the world on my blog. Perhaps that's what gave me away. Maybe "Debbie from New York", "Stan from California" and "Jon from Norway" and the other con artists who are conning artists, are sitting around reading blogs in their spare time and they came across my blog in which I described that I was trying to con them.  Maybe that's what made them give up and stop their con before it was finished.

Even if I hadn't read about the "refund" con I think I would have smelled a rat.  Who ever heard of anyone with their "own shipper" who is supposed to come and pick up the purchase? Nobody in their right mind would send a legitimate bank draft or money order for an expensive item, made out for an amount over the price by a ridiculous figure and then ask the seller to send them a bank draft for the over-payment. Of course there won't be a shipper who ever arrives to pick up the purchase. Debbie doesn't want the drawing. Debbie wants my refund of the overpayment.

If I receive another e-mail from a "George from Toronto" or "Paulo from Brazil" (Isn't it interesting how their middle names are always "from" and their last names are a city or a country?) I'll resist the temptation to share the story and I'll wait until I have their phony money order or bank draft framed and on my studio wall. Then I'll share the story with you!

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I can sense the tension in the air! You've all been waiting on the edge of your seats to read the finale. Well, it's been a month since "Debbie from New York" wrote that the check was in the mail and the check hasn't arrived yet.  My last move to try to see this scam of "Debbie's" work I've sent the following e-mail:

Dear Debbie from New York,
I have a request from a client to sell the drawing "Thunderpeek III". You offered to buy it and said you were sending the cheque. That was on September 12, 2012. Your cheque has not arrived. I thought I would notify you first, before selling the drawing, since I promised to sell it to you.

I will await your decision. If I don't receive an e-mail response from you in two days I will consider our arrangement cancelled.

The ball's in your court, Deb!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Here's the latest from "Debbie from New York":

Dear Jim,
 Thanks for your response, i really appreciate your help and honesty.
I'll get the check prepared and have it sent out to you asap.Then i'll let you know as soon as i have it sent to you. Kindly consider the piece sold to me and pls do take it off market.
 Thanks and i'll talk to you soon,

Hmmmmmmmm?! Take it "off market"? I don't think so, Deb. Not just yet, anyway!
No need to send a response to Deb. She/he knows I'm honest and wouldn't sell it out from under her/him. But wait! I wonder if she/he will go to my website and check? Y'think? Naw! She'll/he'll be too busy buying the other works for her/his new digs in South Africa.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Deb seems to be keen on buying my drawing and has given me final instructions. This is "her" latest message:
I'm just reading your email now as I have been so busy all day preparing for the conference in the office,it starts this week. 
 Actually, my shipper should be in town sometime next week and will definitely be getting in touch with you for the pickup and also to inspect it for me.
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 South Africa this month as Im being transferred and Promoted. 
 As it is, I'm sending you check 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 have received and cashed the check, deduct your funds and PLEASE help me send the remaining funds to him(shipper). I will forward his contact details to you once you have received the payment.
 Now I'm concluding you are a responsible person and I can therefore entrust you with this arrangement.I'll let you know Immediately the check is sent out to you so you should be looking out for it.
Many thanks and talk to you soon,
P.S: I can't find any address at the bottom of any of your e-mail response.

And here's my response to Deb:

My address is here in the logo.

What I am expecting and what I've learned when I originally called the police to ask about this scam, is that the con artist will send me a check and it will be for a greater amount than necessary. A much greater amount. When I contact the con artist and point out the mistake I will be instructed to send a money order or bank draft for the overage. In "Debbie from New York's" scam she is having me do essentially the same thing by paying the overage to "her" "shipper" and then I'll wait for the "shipper" to arrive to pick up the drawing. Only I'm not stupid enough to send money to the "shipper" and the "shipper" will never arrive. I plan to frame "Debbie from New York's" check and hang it on my studio wall. 

Stay tuned.


If you've been following my various aromatic adventures of smelling rats, you might be interested in what (I think) is yet one more. If you haven't been following this line, of course you're free to move backwards through my blog entries (I don't put too many of them up) and check out the previous ones.

I received the following e-mail, titled "Thunderpeek III" (title of one of my drawings), a couple of weeks ago:
My name is Debbie Walker, from New York. I hope this message finds you well.I was going through some of your works and my eyes caught this particular piece, I'm interested in purchasing it as I'm moving to a new apartment this month.Please let me know if you still have the piece available, if yes let me know and it's final price and more information about it. I will be waiting to read from you.

As you can see from my previous posts on this subject, there's a similarity in the content of this message. This one contains fewer spelling and syntax errors than some of the previous ones I've received. My answers to the previous ones have shown suspicion on my part, resulting in the rat ending the correspondence and going back into its hole. I hope this time to keep the bait out there and get the rat on the hook. I doubt very much that the rat is interested in my website (other than a way of getting in touch with the "mark"... me) and I doubt "Deb" will follow the link to this blog and discover that I'm on to "her"
Should this person turn out to be a legitimate client (which I doubt) I will have "stepped in it" royally, as they say.

I was about to go on a road trip, so I sent "Debbie Walker from New York" (aka "Stan from California" or "Jon from Norway") the following:
I am out of the studio for two weeks but will answer your message as soon as I return.
Thanks for your patience.

"Deb" responded:
Okay. I'll be waiting to hear from you.

When I returned a couple of days ago I sent "her" this:
Hi, Debbie Walker from New York,
I've returned to the studio and can now respond to your request. The piece is still available and is priced at $3500.00 Canadian plus shipping and packing (unframed). When you supply me with your address I can calculate the cost of shipping and packing and I will let you know the total cost.
Thank you for your interest in my work,

"Deb" answered:
Thanks for your prompt reply.
Unfortunately, I'm on my way to France on an official trip(I'm a marketing Executive) and wont be back for another two weeks.
 If you'd like to know, Im relocating to South Africa soon and I'm trying to gather some good stuff for my new abode. Im buying yours amongst others,quickly! before someone else grabs it.So, I'll arrange to send you payment ASAP.
However, I'll have to notify my shipper who's helping me move my stuff to get set for the pickup of the piece from your place as I MIGHT be delayed depending on how things goes.
PS: In the mean time, kindly get back to me with your contact address and also your phone# so I can get in touch with my Bank to get a check prepared and have it mailed out to you right away.

My reply today:
My address has been included at the bottom of each of the e-mail responses I've sent you. But I don't understand this shipper arrangement you describe. The normal procedure is for me to send the work to the purchaser. I can send it by courier to arrive by air if you wish. I just need to know your address so as to calculate the cost and add to the price of the drawing. The drawing will be unframed and will not weigh very much, and it will be in a secure container.
Thank you,

And that's where things sit at the moment. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


The scam that Stan and Jon and all their buddies use is fairly easy to spot. They contact an internet seller expressing an interest in buying an item, usually a high-end item like a boat or a car (therefor Jon wants to make a "list" of the many cheap wood engravings he wants so the total figure is jacked up). Stan and Jon say they have "shipping agents" who will pick it up (but there aren't any such agents who ever show up), which puts the seller's mind at ease. Then when the seller receives a check it is way over the amount needed for the purchase. The buyer responds by saying he made a mistake, so he instructs the seller to simply deposit the check and then send the buyer a cashier's check for the overpayment. This works for the scammer if the international exchange of the fake check he sent is slower than the refund check sent to him.


Back in March of 2010 I started posting a description of my lively correspondence with "Stan" from California (although I suspected he was from Nigeria).  Now I think I smell another rat.  I received an e-mail from "Jon Rosberg From Norway" who wanted to buy something from me (notice he doesn't mention what he wants, nor does he know what I have to offer).  He also adds spice to the bait by hinting that he will supply me with a shopping "list" of what he wants, if I would just be so kind as let him know the address of my website!

Here's what Jon Rosberg From Norway wrote:
Good Day, I'm Jon Rosberg From Norway.I want to place an order and i know the difficulties encountered when shipping internationally,But that will not be a problem because i am registered with a shipping company which I've used severally times without any delay nor damage.Before i place the order,i want to inform you that i will be making the payment with my Mc/Visa cards because as for now i can only make payment with my US credit card account information,so if it's okay by you kindly get back to me with the contact details and please reconfirm your website so as to know if I'm right with the site.I awaiting your swift response so as to list out the items needed. Malin-Da-Store Th. Owesens gate 35, N-7044 TRONDHEIM, Norway. Telephone: + 4773825300 Telefax: + 4773515704 Warmest Regards, Jon.

The first red flag that came up when I read the e-mail was that Jon didn't express what he was interested in, nor did he even know my website!  Then, of course, the other red flag was one I had seen before.  Jon, like Stan, is "registered with a shipping company".  I'm sure, if Jon answers my e-mail at all he will tell me he doesn't need to have me ship it to him because his shipping company will pick up "the merchandise".  As far as Jon's method of payment goes, I've heard of McNuggets, McDouble and McMuffins, but I've never heard of a McVisa.  I'm afraid that wouldn't work for me.  Then I googled the address and found it is actually in Trondheim Norway and is a company called Q Free ASA which is in the business of traffic management.  Their phone number has the first six numbers included in Jon's e-mail but it seems Norway doesn't divide its phone numbers in the same way as ours (first three is the area code).  I first thought 477 had been the area code and it would have been in Leon Mexico.  There were also links on the Google results which were to websites dealing with scam e-mails.  When I brought one up on the screen there was a copy of a letter with the very same wording as the letter I received, only another name, not Jon!  It's possible this is Stan again or one of his Nigerian Mafia cronies.

So, in the spirit of sharing with one and all, here is my response to Jon:
Good day Jon Rosenberg from Norway,
Thank you for your interest in my work.  There are no difficulties shipping internationally at all.  I only accept payment through PayPal.  Please let me know which work you would like to purchase.  As soon as you tell me your address, I can calculate the shipping charges to add to the cost.  Then, when you have made the payment of the cost of the work, plus the shipping to PayPal and I have received notice of payment from PayPal, I will ship the piece to you.  If that works for you we can proceed.


Stay tuned, folks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I'm learning some lessons about addiction to technology in this new year.  Lesson number one started with my old desktop computer. Attempts to download some video and graphic files were failing because my software was out of date. When I attempted to update the software I learned the computer was too old to support the upgrades. Time to get a new one so I did. But I couldn't open my word or data files on the new one now. I have to find alternative software I can afford and find out how or if I can transfer files to the new software. It's frustrating to be confronted with a totally new way of doing what I used to do naturally. Now, the second lesson was about to start......
I was in the studio the other day working on a new wood engraving block with my trusty electric engraving tool. Suddenly the hand piece seized up. This had never happened before and I've owned this handy tool for at least seventeen years. I use it nearly every day when engraving a block and for many hours a day. I took the hand piece apart, even though I'm mechanically challenged. I had taken the thing apart before when there had been an electrical short. That was not the problem this time, so I twisted the little motor to see how it turned. There seemed to be some resistance but after turning it more it seemed to loosen up and spin freely. The bearings in this unit are sealed and don't need lubrication (according to the manual) so I figured I could put it back together and give it a try. I did, and it work... for about ten minutes, then it screeched to a sudden halt. I accepted the fact that it had reached the end of its rope and it had served me well.... very well. So I ordered a replacement hand piece from the manufacturer.

Until that replacement arrives, I am re-acquainting myself with my trusty hand tools. I've used hand tools all along, but only when it is necessary to have more tight control over the engraved line. This all causes me to reflect on how reliant we are on technologies and how we become so used to them that our manner of working is totally reliant on them. We reach the point where more direct methods of making things or making things happen become totally foreign. I'm now developing a higher level of respect for basic methods of doing things. But I'm still anxious to receive the replacement hand piece so I can work as I've worked before.