Last month, Texas-based photographer Polly Chandler reportedly fell victim to the scam after apparently receiving an email from a prospective buyer, supposedly called ‘Corbett Bonilla’, a collector based in England.
The alleged fraudster ordered two of Polly’s limited-edition prints, each priced $1,100 and a cheque was sent to her bank, reports US-based photography website featureshoot.com.
But the cheque turned out to be a fake and, to make matters worse, Polly says her bank allowed her to withdraw on the due funds, resulting in her inadvertently putting her account into deficit and being charged overdraft fees.
‘It’s actually quite humiliating to be scammed to the point in which it
wiped out my entire checking account,’ Polly told featureshoot.com.
This week, Polly – who lives in Austin – is holding a print sale to raise cash, in a bid to help recoup some of her losses.
However, it seems this sad tale is not an isolated case.
Scotland-based photographer Stuart Low today told Amateur Photographer that he believes he was targeted by the same fraudster earlier this year.
‘I thought mine was a one-off until I read about Polly being scammed in the States,’ said Stuart.
Long-running email exchanges
Stuart explained that he was engaged with a lot of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’, via email, with the alleged scammer from last December until the end of February.
‘I received an email order for one of my limited-edition framed prints.
‘It was a fairly expensive order of around £500.
‘The man asked for an invoice to be sent, then he would send a cheque.
‘I sent the invoice by email, then he said he would send a cheque by return.
‘Then he asked for my PayPal invoice, my address, then bank account details.
‘It all seemed genuine but I was suspicious when he gave me the delivery address, which was to a shop in Manchester…
‘I looked up the shop and called them but they had not heard of the man at all.’
Fortunately, Stuart did not lose out. He says he contacted police about the suspected scam after the alleged fraudster said he had seen his prints on eBay.
‘I’ve never sold my prints on eBay,’ Stuart told AP.
Kathleen McMahon, an artist based in San Francisco who publishes the Stop Art Scams blog, warns others to beware of receiving an email from ‘Corbett Bonilla’ (see below).
It seems this is not the same email sent to all potential victims, however.
Stuart Low told AP that this was not the email he received from the alleged scammer, and Polly Chandler had yet to comment at the time of writing.
The sample email from ‘Corbett Bonilla’, as published on
Kathleen McMahon’s blog, is copied below:
I have received your email and the information concerning the cost and the method of payment that you choose.
Concerning the shipping and delivery I will handle the delivery and pay the delivery fees by adding it on the same Cashier’s Cheque which am going to issue.
My concern about appointing a good secure shipping company for the delivery is because I want the delivery to be save to my destination here in Glasgow England without any damages or lost of art which has already happen in the past by using FedEx and UPS.
We will need to discuss the sending of the cheque directly to you for the payment of the painting in order for the pickup to take place. We need to appoint a time and date for Skype communication. My Skype id is corbettbonilla add me on your Skype list or send me your Skype id
and I will add you.
Please email me back with the below information for the Cashier’s
Cheque to be issue..
Name on Check:
If you don’t have Skype id kindly go to www.skype.com and register
with them and download Skype. I will be available on Skype tonight
night from 8:30 pm England time.
Note: I will handle and appoint a good secure shipping company that
will come for the pickup and the shipping fees will be added.