Phishing Scam: A Dramatic Exploration

Posted on Feb 8, 2023

Friend of the gallery Gordon Stettinius (founder of Candela Gallery) decided to flip the script when he chose to engage with one of the oldest scams in the book. He shared his exchange with "art collector" "Mr. William Scott" on Facebook.

ACTS 1 & 2
I posted a query here from an 'art collector' yesterday. So many people have received something similar to this, myself included, that this particular hustle feels like a pretty tired scheme. But a few people related how they had been phished in similar ways.  And a few others wanted to see how such a scam might actually happen... So, I figured I would engage with Mr. William Scott to see if and how we might work together. I have already screwed up by not creating a proper cypher for myself, with an appropriate address, but it looks like this might not be a deal breaker as 'Will' has already responded to my first reply..  Let's see what happens. I'll post updates here.


In which our friend, William, appears anxious to see itemized artwork and prices. Time is running short.

In which our collector William, with precious little information, has narrowed his selections quickly. He has requested specific pricing on Insouciance, a bronze by Clement Greenberg Jr.. A remarkably intuitive selection. Fingers crossed!,

Finds us waiting. William, our collector, without explanation, has gone silent. Leaving our second archivist, Larry, to wonder, was it something he said? Or something he didn't say? Or perhaps there is something wrong with William, or, God forbid, with William's marriage... Poor Larry is a mess. But he hasn't given up on his prospective client just yet.

In which we find out William is okay!  And that he appears to be a man of direct action. His anniversary is still coming soon - how soon we may never find out. And now we learn our collector is about to move to Finland! So, the clock is really ticking.  William has now asked Larry to provide information for immediate payment by bank certified check. But Larry will have to deliver some unfortunate news about their pending transaction...

In which William turns out to be rather unfazed he was art blocked by oligarchs. He seems to exude confidence still, as though he will ultimately find the perfect surprise immediate gift for his still nameless wife and their impending anniversary, and so William entrusts Larry with their new address in Finland.

In which we grow concerned William may, in fact, know Finnish and thus be alarmed at the specificity of Larry's postcard. Meanwhile, Larry is trying to present alternative immediate gift ideas from Mr. Greenberg, the artist in which our collector has expressed interest. William's silence is growing uncomfortable…


In which William finally responds, but strangely doesn't seem to have been keeping up with young Larry's research and suggestions. William appears stubbornly intent on purchasing Insouciance, even when this immediate surprise artwork is no longer available. Larry is growing frustrated. And suspicious.


** Updated 2/15/2023 ** 


ACT 10
In which William switches gears and selects a new work to "go for" without so much as a how do you do.  Larry tries not to take this personally but suspects he may not have all of his friend's attention.  There is probably a lot going on what with the move and all...



ACT 11

In which there has been no sign of William for two days. Larry can never be sure why his usually effervescent collector can be so mercurial at times. Some days, they feel connected, some days there is a wall. A wall constructed by William's laconic indifference. Larry, on the other hand, lives by more of a 'just be yourself' philosophy. And the hope that things will work out in the end.

In which William has seemingly gone dark. Did William move on to find a gift for nameless Jane somewhere else? Did Larry lace a bit too much contempt in with his homespun credulity? We may never know. But since this game (this chapter?) has concluded, our protagonist, Larry, will be allowed the final word. For now.



We will be sure to include any future installments!

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