How This Scam Targeting Artists Works

There are many variations on similar scams targeting artists. Many artists wonder how these sorts of scam works. Even owners of large artist sites have been asking how the scam works. Well, an artist named Judy played the scam out far enough to get a check and explains the scam below:

“There is an Art Scam that is going around that you need to be aware of. I know because I’m currently in correspondence with the scammer who calls herself/himself “Gretta White”.
I received an email from “Gretta” saying, “Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creative works on your website and I will like you to get back with more details if they are still available for purchase.” She then proceeds to give me the titles of 2 of my art pieces. I wrote back with details of the pieces. She then writes back and asks what inspired me to make the pieces.
In following emails, she tells me that she is expecting her first child and that she and her husband are currently moving from New Jersey to London. Then she says she’s in Cancun for her sister’s wedding. Then she was in the hospital in Cancun because she almost had a miscarriage. Of course I wrote back to say how sorry I was that she was ill and I’m glad she’s feeling better.
Then she wants my address so her husband can send me a check and she can notify her “cartage company” so they could arrange the pick up of my work.
I suddenly had a feeling that I needed to learn more about Gretta White so I googled her name. There she was under “Gretta White Art Scam”. The person calling herself/himself “Gretta White” supposedly has her husband send the artist a check with an over-payment of thousands of dollars. She then says her husband made a mistake and included the shipping charge so would the artist please go ahead and deposit the check in their own bank and Western Union the over-payment back to her husband. Of course the check is fake but it takes the bank a while to find out. In the meantime the artist has just sent real money to Gretta’s husband.
I now have the check that Gretta’s husband sent me. The check is $2,000.00 more than the price of my art. I received an email from Gretta today asking me to go ahead and deposit the check and she’ll tell me where to send the Western Union.
The check was sent by a Fred Stellato in Bethlehem, PA. (Gretta told me they lived in New Jersey.) The check is from OMICS Publishing Group in Westlake, Los Angeles, CA.  I plan to keep it as a souvenir.

24 thoughts on “How This Scam Targeting Artists Works

  1. Cindy says:

    It is very dangerous and foolish to even accept a check you know is fraudulent, regardless of whether you cash it or not. You could be held responsible as part of this fraud since you accepted this check. What are you going to say, I knew it was fraudulent but was playing games? Who would belive that response? And in order to get the check, you had to give out your personal address.


    • Cindy you are so right! I would not want such scammers to have my address. An artist on LinkedIN in a group discussion told what happened to her at her bank when she went to cash the scam check. The artist had no idea of the scam. The bank secretly called the police and the artist was arrested and taken away in handcuffs for passing a bad check! She said she had her young daughter with her and felt totally embarrassed, humiliated and niave for not knowing about the scam. Plus she spent time in jail and had to pay legal fees to get the charges dropped.


  2. Cindy says:

    But even just accepting a check is just as dangerous. You do not have to cash it to be arrested. Your post just talked about this scam and about this artist keeping the check as a “souvenir” as if this was an ok thing to do (as long as she did not cash it). It is not any different.


    • Right, artists are naive about such things. Judy has no idea what she has opened herself up to. She should write *scammers check* in large marker on it, or burn it. She should report the incident to the local police–the scammers have her address and know that a naive person lives there! etc


  3. Received one in my ETSY store proposing added payment via a check blah blah blah for the scammer’s shipping company that was going to show up at my studio (!) if I provided my address.
    “my private shipping company will handle the shipping, but before payment will be made
    i need to be sure of who i am dealing with if you are going to be honest and sincere throughout the transaction.”
    So, being honestly and sincerely leery of someone who lacks capital in so many ways, I alerted the ETSY team.


  4. Cindy says:

    Well no artist should be “playing out the scam” as the original blog post says. “Well, an artist named Judy played the scam out far enough to get a check and explains the scam below.” I am not sure the author of this blog is still understanding the issue I have with this…you DO NOT play out scams.


    • Cindy,
      I am the author of this blog. You have an issue with my wording? My use of the slang term *played out* bothers you? It’s a blog and so I write rather casually at times. Do you not think it a good idea for other artists to know about this?

      The point of my post is that this artist took the scam further than most dare too. She found out what they were after. I do not know why she decided to do that. I am only relaying useful information. I am most certainly *not* suggesting others do the same! Why would anyone want to communicate with such scammers, and especially after reading this post that explains what the scam is about?

      I have also received comments on this scam post via Facebook private messages, including thank-yous. Owners of large sites for artists have asked me how the scam works. Other artists admit that they too almost fell for similar scams. This blog is free information to help artists. I post this information as a service.

      I am also contributing writer for Technorati news,Yahoo! and VASA blog. I have also been published in print–mostly short fiction and poetry, also book reviews.
      I write appropriately, IMO, for each venue.


  5. Yup, I had someone attempt the same scam on me. I caught on pretty quickly because of little tells, like wrong information on details and English appearing to be translated through google. I also kept the check as a souvenir, but I also faxed it to the bank it was suppose to be drawn on explaining the scam to them. They actually follow that stuff pretty carefully. Good luck!


    • Good idea to fax the check to the bank. One artist told me that instead of a check he received badly counterfeited travelers checks. The scammer knew the exact day the artist had received them in the mail and called him and said he had an emergency and need a cash refund, but to keep several hundred for his troubles.


  6. I have been contacted by three individuals like this in the past… all under different names and all saying they found my work in different spots. The most recent was just this past week. The first one had me… until the shipping thing. All of them wanted their shipper to handle the work. It’s unfortunate that people do this sort of thing and that we need to be so cautious. Thanks for making more folks aware through your post!


    • yes, me too. I was contacted less than two weeks ago via Zatista email message. I always reply to any contact. The second email from the scammer is when they reveal what they are. That one insisted on paying via PayPal. He said he was a sailor at sea and the painting purchase was to be a surprise for his father’s birthday gift. He would have someone pick up the painting so I would have no need to ship or pay shipping fees. There are many variations and similarities. I have heard that the PayPal version involves a counterfeit credit card. Why it takes so long for PayPal to discover a fake credit card probably has to do with all the transactions they deal with each day. PayPal bought Ebay one of their employees told me.


  7. Thank you so much for publishing this Artist Scam, Marie. There are so many ways that artists can be taken advantage of these days. It does my heart good to see you expose this scam!. I love your spunk and your Weekly Digest! Keep it rolling! And very best wishes for lots more success! Laara WilliamSen


  8. Pingback: How This Scam Targeting Artists Works | musician resources |

  9. Recommend that the check be turned over to the FBI or Secret Service Fraud division. A number of Feldenkrais Teachers and Massage Therapist have been approached in a similar way.


  10. Thank Judy. I had the same thing, but now they are using Nancy B. Lawton Lawton out of Seattle, Washington. I looked up Nancy Lawton and she said that she had never hear of me. The emails said that her husband got an Head of IT job in South Africa. The same Fred Stellato sent me a check for $4500. I was told they over paid by $2900 that was for the shipper. I told her that I would only take the amount of the art work and not pay the shipper. She then told me she was in the hospital and about to have a baby. All this time, I noticed how poor her writing was and that for someone with a husband in a higher position would have a higher education and not write so poorly. Some how and some way these people need to be stopped. I had worked with the FBI before on medical cases with the Medi-Cal program. Because they sent this fake money through the mail they have committed several acts of crime. We should hand over this information to the FBI so they can build their case against him and his partners.


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