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Art Scam Part II: Playing the Shark

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

When we last left Zick, she was in receipt of a monstrous check of dubious value and origin, in payment for a painting that had yet to be shipped. "Julia Simpson" has made out to me, but for almost twice the amount I was asking.

Dear Julia,

  I have a check here from First Tennessee Bank/ Transnetyx Inc. I'm assuming it's from you. 

 It's made out to me, for the amount of $3,250.00. Which is considerably more than I am asking ($1,835.00). What's going on? 

Holding it until I understand.   Best, Julie

On Mar 28, 2014, at 7:54 PM, Julia Simpson wrote:
Hi Julie,
I got your email now. Thanks for the update. I am so excited you have
received the payment and can't wait to have the painting on my wall. I
hope to give it a very good home and enjoy the piece for many years.

Regarding the check , my husband made a terrible mistake and overpaid
you  because he didn't have full details of the transaction since  I
was too busy when he sent it. I am very sorry for the confusion but I
will like you to go ahead and deposit the check,  you can then deduct
the cost of painting plus shipping to my address below. Then you can
forward the difference back to him.

1826 W 23 St
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Kindly acknowledge this email as soon as you can. Thanks.

Best Regards,

Ah. Now we have an address. I'm thinking, "Hmm. If I deposit the check, and it clears, why would "Julia" trust me to send back $1415 that I could so easily keep?" Talk about a "terrible mistake." I decide to deposit the check and wait for it to clear before doing anything. Definitely not boxing up the painting. So I stall a bit. And give "Julia" a hint that I may not be as dumb as I sound. I want Spammy to squirm for a little while. While I'm at it I punch the Miami address into Google Earth. A white stucco building obscured by palm trees comes up. Whether it's "Julia's" new house or not is anybody's guess.  These cockroaches hide in any crack or crevice.

Dear Julia,                                    March 28 2014

  Whoa. That's a big mistake. It makes me uncomfortable to deposit the $3,250 and then issue a refund. I'll talk to my banker about it when I can get into town--it won't be this weekend, but perhaps Monday. Hang tight. And thank you for the full address.



So I go into town and show the check to a manager at my bank. He told me it's clearly a bogus document, and that this is a common scam--overpayment and request for a hefty refund. He said there's never a way to track the scammer, and it's not worth trying. Everything he says confirms my suspicion that I'm being played. So I let it go a few days, then give "Julia" hope that I've fallen for her scam in the biggest possible way.

On 4/1/14, Julie Zickefoose wrote:

Dear Julia,

I've just returned from town where I had a million errands to do. I
didn't have time to talk to my banker but I did deposit your check for
$3,250.00. I have pulled the painting from my archives and am packing it up
today. Is it all right if I enclose a check for the refund amount in the package
with the painting and send the whole thing, painting and check, to the 1826
W.23d St. address, Miami Beach?

Excited for you to have this painting. It's one of my favorites.



 I decide to keep playing "Julia." Wasting "her" time and in the process, learning about how these scumsuckers operate. I start lying right back. I tell her I've deposited the check. And I try to make Scammy think I'm dumb enough to send the painting before her check clears. The clock's ticking now, because there's no way it will clear.

This should be interesting.  To be continued...


This is very exciting! I've never been brave enough to actually engage.

Posted by Joy Kidd June 23, 2015 at 6:11 AM

You are having too much fun.
My husband does something similar--though not on paper. When he gets a scam of those that the voice says there is a problem with your computer, etc. --he answers RIGHT back--what kind of computer do I have? Then he launches into a litany of "you are a terrible person..." and many invectives. He actually had one scam caller say--sir, sir, please to calm down, you are getting too agitated.
And then the scammer hung up on my husband. Turn about, fair play, eh?

Such an interesting spammer story unfolding here. I love it!

This is good, Julie, keep 'em going! See if you can actually get them to send someone to a pickup point, so the police can grab them.

Posted by flowerman June 23, 2015 at 10:21 AM

I used to toy with scammers myself (among other things I would reply with a fake name, address, and ph. number -- all of which belonged to a nearby FBI office), BUT what I often discovered, is that IF you reply, in ANY manner whatsoever (even complete gibberish) a computer receives the reply and simply adds your name onto another 3 dozen "sucker" lists, as someone who replies (and then you hear from MORE of them)! So be aware!! (Other times I would simply send the scammers one of the many verbatim Nigerian email scam letters I had saved up, so the scamming scuzzbags were hearing from scamming scuzzbags...)

You are having a good time playing the spammer. How sad to think some people are scammed in this way.

I'm on the edge of my seat! Can't wait to hear what happened next!

Posted by Anonymous June 24, 2015 at 4:08 AM

Way to go Julie. Can't wait to see what happens next.

I love these. We actually were just a check the same as yours but a different amount.You have given me the idea to also play along. Thanks!

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