I have a few images for sale on a couple of different websites. The other day I uploaded 2 images, and received a inquiry the next day. It was a brief message through the website interface (not direct email) saying something like, "Nice images, are they still available?" I assume he meant the original since he could have just purchased prints with the click of his mouse.
I wrote him back just saying, "Yes, still for sale." Didn't think this was a serious inquiry because I put a silly price tag on originals. But he wrote back with the following:
Hello, Thanks for the response,All the details posted with the artwork are satisfactory.Payment will be by certified check that will fully clears your bank before pickup of the artwork.The payment you will be receiving will includes the moving fees,i hope i can trust you with it?The funds will cover the packaging of the piece,insurance,custom and excise duties.It is needed for a gift in a family reunion coming up as it holds a significant importance to the receiver.kindly send me your full contact details to mail out the payment.
Hope to read from you.
It reads quite scam like, doesn't it? But just what is the scam? If a buyer sends a certified check that clears, what's the risk?
Feels all wrong to me. I wrote him back and encouraged him to buy through the website. Fishy that he wouldn't do that from the start.
#2. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 0
San Diego, US
A common scam is to "buy" something with a check, request you use their (bogus) shipping agent, you pay the shipping agent, the check turns out to be no good, your out what you paid the shipping agent (plus whatever you've shipped).
#4. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 0
I agree with Hal. I would expect the next communication would be a request for information about you. While it is necessary to give bank routing and account number information to someone who will wire funds to you, giving that information to the wrong person allows them to put your bank information together with other information they collect from you and possibly do some financial damage to you. Of course, you could just say "mail a certified check" and see what happens, but I've received some of that same language in emails to my business -- almost verbatim. And that was not about photographs or photography. Good luck.
#5. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 0
Salt Lake City, US
I would never, under any circumstance, give someone my banking information. But he's not asking for it. His email says he'd send a certified check. How can an actual certified check be a scam? Now his game might be that he later says he can't send the certified check and wants to wire the funds directly, but so far that's not the scam.
It is bothersome to me that even through reputable websites the scammers are out there trolling for suckers. I wish this inquiry had come through my own personal website because I can track the hits by location. It would be interesting to know where this guy is located.
Thanks for the input. In any event I doubt I'll hear from him again. I think by redirecting him to the website for purchase through them, he's getting the signal that I'm not interested in playing his game. Even though I have to pay commissions to the website, I think I'm starting to like the security they offer for these transactions.
#6. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 5
I'm just guessing, but the scam could be that all of a sudden he will be in a hurry for you to go ahead and ship the photographs due to the supposed upcoming family reunion, specifying to whom you are to prepay shipping and other expenses. Of course he will assure you that the check is in the mail and contains sufficient funds to cover your expenses and inconvenience. It will never come, or if it does it will be fake.
#7. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 5
Boston Area, US
His email says he'd send a certified check. How can an actual certified check be a scam?
I've seen a couple of different schemes based on certified or cashier's checks: -- The buyer tenders a check for more than you're asking and wants you to pay him some or all of the difference. The certified check appears to be from a legitimate bank but is counterfeit. -- The certified check is drawn for the correct amount but against a bogus institution. When it bounces and you email the scammer, they tell you that you need to pay a fee, typically by Western Union or some other untraceable form to release your funds. The scammers then pocket the fee.
There are lots of variants on both themes, naturally.
One of the biggest mistakes a photographer can make is to look at the real world and cling to the vain hope that next time his film will somehow bear a closer resemblance to it. - Galen Rowell
#8. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 0 Mon 09-Jul-12 05:13 PM by SoCalBeans
San Diego, US
I had a client who had a certified check from a property sale after a divorce. it was large (mid 6 figures), written on a local attorney's trust account and she had surprising difficulty with it. One bank wouldn't take it. another wouldn't advance anything against it - unless she had matching funds that they could lock up (which she did not). They put a hold on the funds for 10 working days - unusual to me in the era of electronic clearing.
it was eye opening - but both banks told how they are unable to validate a certified check - until the funds transfer (and stick - I suppose).
So, my 2 cents. Accept the payment. Deposit the check. Let it 'season' before you ship. If they want immediate shipping - tell them it is not available.
To me, this smells bad. But, assuming that your product is artful, valuable and worthy of purchase, how could/would a legitimate buyer overseas buy your item?
hopefully your banker can fill you in on any risks you might be assuming by accepting payment, if any.
#9. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 8
Rancho Cordova, US
I guess the big question is "certified" by whom?
When speaking with people about sales and Craigslist with payment outside of Paypal, then I tend to tell people to use a US Postal Money Order. Outside of Paypal, cash or a US Postal Money Order, I just won't do it.
#10. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 0
If he still refuse to buy directly from your site I would forward all these info to the local police, or whoever is dealing with these kind of scams. ________________ IOAN "... stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God" - Elihu eikonao.com
#12. "RE: Selling images, bait for scam?" In response to Reply # 0
Livermore, CA, US
It's a scam. The clues are (1) he doesn't mention any details whatsoever about specifically what he's buying from you or why he wants it so badly and (2) he wants you to use his shipper. Usually this is to ship overseas so the shipping costs are high.
The way these play out is he issues payment, you pay a portion back to his shipper, then later his form of payment bounces (bounced check or chargeback on stolen credit card) and you're out whatever you paid the shipper.
I suppose if you wait for the check to clear then you're in the clear, but you'll be waiting for something that will never happen, so you can save yourself the time and trouble by ignoring it.