Art Scam

I recently heard from Seattle jewelry artist Micki Lippe about a scam artist who contacted her. The same thing happened to a painter friend of mine and apparently to many of Micki’s friends as well.

This person–using both male and female names and working with a variety of mail servers–contacts an artist asking to buy a piece of their work–often specifying a work by name. He/she offers to send a check, and asks you to let the check clear before sending the piece. However, the check will be a fake cashier’s check that will appear to clear. The scammer will then want the work picked up by courier. By time the work is gone, you’ll discover the check is bad.

Everyone wants to sell work. But the internet has allowed the piranha to prey on artists. Be aware. Don’t be in a hurry to sell. Search the name/e-mail address of the sender online to see if he/she has used this name before. Talk to other artists. Suggest that the scammer buy your work through an authorized gallery. Do everything you can to protect yourself from the bottom feeders. (Yes, I know piranha aren’t bottom feeders….)

Below are the messages exchanged by Micki and her fraudsters, along with a note from a friend of hers who was also scammed. While her friend believes the scammer is in Seattle, the oddly stilted languages in the messages suggests these might becoming from another country. If you get anything similar, all your alert bells should go off.


Hello There,

My name is Jackson Banks from California. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work. I’m also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too,  You are doing a great job. I would like to purchase one of your Necklace “Leaves and Pearls, Sterling, 22K, pearls”, as a surprise to my wife on our anniversary. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.
Thanks and best regards

From Micki Lippe

Thank you for your interest in my work. That piece is sold but I am happy to make something similar. The length of the chains is 36”. You may decide on the length that you think would be good for your wife.

PRICE: $800

Payment would be a check mailed to me. When the check clears, I will ship the necklace.

Please let me know if this arrangement works for you.

Again, thank you

From (Notice the change of e-mail address!)

Thanks for the message, sure the check will clear your bank before pick up of the piece, and kindly let me know how soon it will take you to get the similar piece done and ready for pick up… I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece. If you’d like to know, I’m relocating to Canada soon and our wedding anniversary is fast approaching. So I’m trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise. I am okay with the price, i think its worth it anyways. 

As regarding payment, I would like to inform you, that my wife handles the family credit card/bank and Paypal transaction. So i would authorize a check to you for the payment as soon as i have your full name and contact address (preferably for FedEx delivery no P.O box). Also, as soon as you receive the check and it clears your bank, my shipping agent who is also moving my Truck and personal effect will contact you to arrange shipping/pick up of the piece from you (this is to avoid my wife receiving it, if been shipped directly to my address would ruin the surprise for this event). You both have to sign a proof of pick up at the most.

I would have handled this much differently if I’d been at home but at the moment, am on training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean, (I’m an ocean engineer) with new hires who are fresh from graduate school and won’t be back for another couple of weeks, and do not have access to a lot of cash over here to expedite this transaction.. So trying to kill two birds with a stone.


Jackson Banks

A warning from Micki’s friend:

The scammers are in Seattle.
When the piece is ready you will receive a check.
The check will be a fake cashier’s check and it will be drawn on a real bank in California. The check will ostensibly clear your account, the funds will be credited to your account.
And then…
As soon as you let him know the check cleared, it will all suddenly become a huge rush and everything will become extremely time sensitive.
You can not call him because he is on a boat!
The “courier” will swing through Seattle and pick up the piece.
The check will be discovered to be bad and returned to your bank.