Art Scams
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(posted on 13 Oct 2017)

Our previous post on a typical art scam generated a lot of response about the same person contacting them with the same message.  The name used was Donald Cook with an email address of

Here are some excerpts from a conversation that one artist had with "Donald":


How are you doing today? I really appreciate your mail  and your works are so wonderful,i want to hang the paint in my new home in France as birthday gift to my lovely wife.

[Removed title of 1 painting]

Kindly get back to me with last asking price for all the works available as listed excluding the shipping cost.Due to my  business policy i had a private shipping agent that handles my goods and she has been working with me for a very long time and i will appreciate if  you could bear with me.

Importantly,i would advice you get back to me with your details, so i can issue out the cashier's cheque Canadian funds.Needed information below.

Full Contact name....
Full Contact Address..
Postal Code..
Home Phone  number..
Cell Phone number..

Kindly get back to me with the details requested For further proceeding, this will enable me to issue out the funds without any delay.

Have a wonderful day,

Text in [] was removed to hide the identity of the artist.

The message had a lot of focus on payment and shipping but very little discussion of the works themselves.  The request for "asking price of all works" when only one work was listed and that work has its asking price on the website suggested that this is a form message that "Donald" was filling in.

A later message that gets to the heart of the scam:

I really appreciate your understanding towards this transaction also with your patience.. 

I will like to inform you that i have contacted my shipper regarding the shipping process.I had a little problem which I hope you can help me out at this point.I got a message from my shipper that she does not have her credit card processing machine in good working condition with paypal.The only payment she can accept at the moment to make my other household items already with her also with the artworks order from you,I was instructed to make the payment via Bitcoin payment process, but I am in a remote area where I cannot be able to send payment except bank cheque now.

We decided to include the payment along with the total amount for your artwork and send the remaining balance to her to start will all the necessary shipping documentation arrangement before coming over to your location for the pick up.

Remember that the funds will cover customs charges with other international shipping charges that will occur during the shipping process.

Donald Cook

So "Donald's" shipper has no credit card processing or any way to pay her other than Bitcoin?  That's a new twist!  Bitcoins are completely untraceable and are popular for many illicit transactions for this reason.  "Donald" has no way to pay this shipper directly even though this is his shipper?  He's running a business supposedly!  There are enough red flags here for a marching band! 

The key to this scam is that the shipper would get the Bitcoins sent to them before they picked up the artwork.  Other versions of this scam used Western Union for this purpose.  The shipper will never arrive and the artist will lose the value of those bitcoins and the "cashiers cheque" will bounce.

Luckily the artist recognized these issues at this point and ended the conversation.

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