To Artists: Scam Alert!

Hello all,

A word to the wise: beware of e-mailers claiming interest in your artwork.

I know all about scammers who try to buy your work using a Money Order or Certified Check. I know about scammers who promise to pay you MUCH more than what your product is worth. I know about scammers who steal your digital images for their own $ use. I know about scammers who claim to represent stores or galleries or art shows and want you to send your artwork to them for photography or prizes or advertisement.

Yes, I am wary. But a couple of weeks ago, I received the following e-mail from STEVEN PALLIN (probably not his real name):
Hey There,

Just moved into a new apartment did some search on-line and came across your.I am considering decorating the wall along the stair case with either a painting, ceramic or sculpture. The wall where the item will be hanged is already painted with my favourite coluor ( Cream ) so the displayed item have to be catchy. Am considering a price range of between $900- $1,500 for this commission.

Conversely, most appreciated if you send me a link to your website again or attach and send to me some of the images ( between 3-5 ) of work you may recommend so that i can choose. My address is 1017 Oneida st. Fort Wayne,IN 46805. Your swift response will be appreciated.

Your's Sincerely

Steven Pallin

So the guy left his name, his address, and some detail of what he wanted. The red flags went up immediately: poor spelling, why would he need my website URL again? The only way he could get my e-mail address would be from the website URL. He mentioned prices up front before letting me know which piece he wanted.

So I attempted to qualify him as a bonafide customer by sending him an e-mail asking him to e-mail a picture of his space so I could better choose which of my sculptures might work best. I figured that a scammer wouldn't respond to questions, but he did and indicated he did not have a digital camera. He again asked me to send images of some artwork to his address. I sent another qualifying e-mail asking him to describe the types and colors of artwork he likes (e.g., figurative, landscape, bold colors, abstracts), again thinking he would give up if he weren't legit. But he responded something bright and figurative. So I sent him a couple of low-resolution images with the prices and sizes. He selected one of the artworks that I sent and asked what type of payment I took, to which I responded PayPal. He said he could only do a Certified Cashier's Check. WARNING! I responded that PayPal is all I could accept. I haven't heard from him since.

I have made many safe web sales over the years, but most of the smaller pieces on my website have PayPal "Buy" buttons that allow the customer to easily purchase what they want without my inervention. PayPal verifies their credit card and e-mails me the buyer's contact info so i feel confident that PayPal will deposit the purchase money into my bank account with no problems. Some people do not like PayPal, but bonafide customers would try to work with the artist regarding payment terms. Anyone who insists upon a Money Order or Cashier's Check as the only payment option is likely a scammer. So be careful.

This guy may have obtained my e-mail address from any number of sources. Since I have a new Facebook account, I decided to change my e-mail to something that I can easily identify as coming from Facebook, just in case scammers are using that means to work their dirty business. Be safe out there in the world wide web.


Mental Block Against Breast Cancer?

I don't know why, exactly, but lately I have had a mental block with talking about the subject of breast cancer. Perhaps it is because I have been concentrating on my new line of hopeful heart sculptures.

Perhaps because I've been more concerned about my dad's Alzheimer's Disease and how to help his wife accept that he will never be the same husband she married. Today, my siblings and I met with her siblings and a counselor who is knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s issues. To try to get through to her, I expressed the sadness that we had when we heard the doctor say he could do no more for our mother’s cancer. Traditional and alternative medicine therapies no longer worked. I recounted that we kids did all that our mother would allow us to do for her during her last months. We sure attempted to find out as much as we could to ensure that she was taken care of the best she could be. We had to face her impending death, but we did it together, and gave mom the grace to die as peacefully and pain free as possible.

Talking about this difficult experience today brought back a flood of memories. Mom would not allow us to get her a helper. She wouldn’t let us stay with her overnight, or bring her meals, or anything. She had been so very independent most of her life that she did not want to “burden” us. So although we desperately wanted to help, we gave her the dignity of continuing to make her choices. But one night mom fell in her house. She couldn’t reach the phone to call for help and had to stay on the cold floor all night long. When I came to see her the next morning, she was nearly frozen, sprawled on the floor. She had hit bottom, literally, figuratively, mentally, physically. She accepted that she needed help and we got her what she wanted.

I shared this story today at our intervention in hope that my stepmother would accept that she cannot fix dad’s medical problem and that they both need help. The counselor urged her not to wait until something bad happened - like dad falling down the stairs at their house. Unfortunately, my stepmother is simply not ready to deal with her reality.

It was an exhausting experience, to be sure. But I was glad both families got to talk about the elephant in the room. As my stepmother takes dad back home tomorrow, 5.5 hours away, overlooking the ocean, we hope she will think about all of the information she was given. And that’s really the moral to this story. When we are beset with a setback like breast cancer, learn about it, stare it in the face, fight it, and ask for help. Namaste.