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Best of the holiday season to everyone.

 

A precautionary tale:  I have a website (http://barrykentmackay.ca/) which
I'm still working on, from which I sell the odd painting.   While I do
illustrate scientific journals, I also do "gallery art" or whatever you call
it, as I know many of us do, but I keep it all simple.no galleries, no
reproductions, low prices, direct transactions and so on.

 

Anyway, last October a "Michael Kleemann" contacted me, purporting to be a
businessman in Texas, on the cusp of moving to Turkey.   He wondered if I
had any other paintings to offer but the then relatively few for sale on my
website (I still have only posted a fraction of what is available).   Not
knowing what his interest was, I just said that I did and sent him a few
samples.

 

He choose the Wood Duck, and the Boat-tailed Grackle.   The former is
framed, so I told him the shipping would therefore be more expensive than if
it weren't framed and made some sort of general conversation about my love
of Texas, and southwestern birds.   But I admit alarm bells were already
ringing in my head as most first-time buyers express their interest in birds
or comment on art or whatever, and Michael Kleemann was very terse.polite,
but nothing personal.

 

He said that because he was moving he was in a state of flux and would it be
okay if me mailed me the money in advance, with enough to pay the shipper at
the door.

 

I had explained that I normally use a specific courier because I it is a
local family-run company that I've dealt with, favourably, for years.

 

He instead said that he'd have his movers in Canada do the actual shipping.

 

That seemed strange, but hey, maybe he was a wealthy Texas businessguy with
all kinds of flunkies working for him, and a finger in many different
corporate pots.

 

So I said, well, okay, fine.

 

But nothing happened.

 

Then, last Monday, my stepdaughter said there was a folder leaning up
against the front door.  It was from UPS.  It contained a single check (or
"cheque" as we write it up here) and it was $3,599.00.   An odd sum.  I had
no idea what it was for.  It was a company cheque, and the company was in
Manitoba, as was the credit union it was drawn on.  Google showed both
existed.but the company manufactures medical equipment.   I have only sold
two or three paintings to Manitobans, none recently, no one there owes me
anything and I don't produce a darn thing that would be of interest to a
manufacturer of medical imaging equipment.

 

Then I remembered Michael Kleemann.  Could this be the money he had
mentioned?   If so, it was way too much, approximately twice what would have
been necessary for the arrangements we had made.

 

Sure enough, I got an e-mail from him after all that time, with an apology
for the delay in getting back to me.

 

The next morning I phoned the company named on the cheque.   "It's fake," I
was told by the guy before I had fully explained the situation.  "And I bet
it's for more than had been agreed upon."  It was.  It turns out that a lot
of these cheques were out there and the company quite annoyed, but helpless
to do anything.

 

It took nearly two days to get a live person cop on the line, but I did this
morning, and he opened a file, taking down all the particulars, which will
then be distributed to fraud departments worldwide.   

 

Michael Kleemann (obviously an alias) could be anywhere.  He did write to me
the name of the "shipper" (a "company" based in Alberta) and a "tracking
number" and so on, but the cop also advised me not to open any more e-mails
from Michael Kleemann, as they could include viruses (it appears not, thank
goodness, but that could change), and certainly not to respond to him again
(my last message was designed to keep him interested as I hoped the police
might be able to find him by intercepting the shippers, and I'm more than
happy to be part of a "sting" if we can catch this crook.   

 

But I will take his advice.   I do have a viewing pane so when Michael
Kleeemann wrote to me this morning that, okay, he'd wait until the new year
(I told him I'd be away until then) I was able to read it even if I didn't
open the message.   

 

But the other thing the cop told me was that by virtue of my having
responded, this person, or one of his or her colleagues, may try another
scam, so I am now more on guard than before.  

 

Frankly, it was a rather clumsy effort, but I HAVE sold art (and developed
online friendships) from "cold" contacts, usually word-of-mouth, but a few
times via my website, and I have sent art off to first-time-buyers before
receiving payment.  A sophisticated businessman I'm not.  

 

I've never been cheated, but obviously I now will modify that practice for
the first-time buyers.   

 

I don't know if any of this will help anyone avoid being taken, but I felt
better to tell you all then not.

 

Cheers,

 

Barry

 

 

Barry Kent MacKay

Bird Artist, Illustrator

Studio: (905)-472-9731

http://www.barrykentmackay.ca
[log in to unmask]

Markham, Ontario, Canada

 

 


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