NOTE: This is Part Two of a three-part series. Part One is found here. A link to Part Three is at the bottom of the page.
Sample Picture Framing Scam Correspondence
This is a classic example of emails I receive from scammers periodically (copied and pasted). Noteworthy items/red flags are marked with the ➡ arrow:
From: Dale Gordon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
➡ Subject: banners
Date: June 14, 2017 at 5:52:38 AM CDT
Reply-To: Dale Gordon <email@example.com>
My name is ➡ DALE GORDON .I want to order some Frames, Well i need you to get back to me with the quote for the following Frames cost with tax Only.
Custom Frame Size : 30 by 40 Shiny Gold Frame with clear acrylic OR plexi-glass Also need a backing on the frames.
Quantity : 50 Pieces Frame
➡ I want you to go ahead and quote me the total pick up prices plus tax,if you don’t have this size or type available ➡ kindly email me with the sizes you have available and also let me know if you have surcharge when accepting credit card payment.hope to hear from you soon.
➡ DALE GORDON
➡ 210 Boy Scout Rd
➡ Augusta, GA 30909
#706 303 0241
Picture Framing Scams: Spotting Red Flags
While this particular example is relatively all right when it comes to English and grammar, many of these emails use broken English, very poor grammar, and, similar to this one, limited punctuation. Noteworthy items from this email include:
- Subject line (“banners”) has nothing to do with the email request – I do not even produce banners
- Customer’s name is in all capital letters in the opening paragraph and the signature – this is likely from a mail merging application that inserts names automatically
- Placing a large order from out of state – a quick Google search reveals approximately eight custom frame shops and two large chains that do framing in Augusta, GA
- Odd use of English and grammar – does not appear to have a good understanding of when to make words plural or singular, where to apply basic punctuation, and neither formal nor conversational sentence structure
- Uses the word “kindly” – most of these scammers will use the word “kindly” in excess
- Questionable mailing address – 210 Boy Scout Rd in Augusta is assigned to a Knight’s Inn
Any one of these items alone is not usually anything noteworthy. But combine them and you have red flags shooting up like fireworks.
So, even though I knew this was a scam, I decided to pursue it a bit just to see how far it would go. Since he claims to be from Augusta and I’m in Franklin, TN, I asked “where is the art currently located? who will be able to bring the art to my place?” Following is a transcript of his text messages that seemingly ignored my question and went in an entirely new and shady direction. Note that I have not altered any vocabulary/spelling, grammar, or punctuation:
“No one is there is a new property i just wanna move into”
“Here’s the home address 609 Jay Ct Nashville, TN 37210”
“I will contact the ex owner and he will get the key send to you as soon as possible you are ready to get started”
Wait… what? You’re going to contact the former owner of the house you want to buy… and have he/she send me, a stranger, a key so I can… what? Deliver? ….uh-huh.
This only confirmed what I already knew to be the case: it’s definitely a scam. Now, here’s another strange thing about these scammers… if you don’t reply back to them, they will reach out to you again as if you have never spoken before or like they are starting all over again. I had no need to reply to this guy. So, after three business days and no response from me, he sends the following message:
“Hello good day and how are you doing today”
More Red Flags
There are other things to look out for when trying to identify a picture framing scam. I have outlined some of them:
- Unfortunately, people with accents. Most of these scams are coming from overseas. According to a recent report from Ultrascan AGI, an international research organization, there are more than 800,000 global perpetrators.
- Poorly written emails or text messages with ironically American names
- An actual scam request I received via text message: “Hello good day and how are you doing I’m mr Barry i will like to know if you do available for murals design & decoration”
- “Hello, Thanks for having time to talking to me over the phone.I want to know if you can get me this art and Picture Frames to purchase…”
- Odd or unusual eagerness to get a quote and pay right away
- More questions about money than the actual product or service
- More questions about paying than the quote itself
- Requests to ship out of the country (especially Canada)
- Eager to pre-pay
- Requests to have their own shipping company collect the items
- Orders that seem too good to be true
- Odd persistence. For example, even if you have made it clear that you are not interested in doing the job for them, they will still push you for information or continue requesting your services. It is almost as if they restart the same conversation with you, but perhaps think you are someone else.
- Excessive use of words like “good sir,” “kindly,” “good day,” and “hello”
Part Three: Artists Getting Scammed & What To Do