Friday, 18 June 2010

The great art scam - I think

I'm fairly certain I have been scammed, but I'm still trying to work out how. The whole thing revolves around this picture I did in 2007, above, called Keeping Abreast.

It has, along with some of my other artworks, been for sale on Saatchi Online since it was done, without a peep of interest, until the other day, when I received an email through the site from someone asking if it was still available.

I replied that yes, it was and then I received another email from the buyer asking if he could send his personal shipping service to collect it. He also asked for my name, address and telephone number in order to raise a banker's draft to pay for it.

Now at this point my suspicions were raised. It seemed like an awful lot of trouble to go to for an A5 sized piece of work by an unknown artist. That and the fact that my correspondent's English seemed to be deteriorating progressively with every passing word.

I forwarded the email to my art dealing friend James in New York for his opinion.

James didn't reply, so on the basis that just about everyone I deal with online turns out to be essentially honest I sent Lester Hathcote, my buyer, my contact details.

And I realised straight away that I'd been a fool. Blinded by flattery, dizzy with the thought that someone would actually want to pay money for my art. But Lester Hathcote is no more real than Bugs Bunny, of that I am certain.

A fact reinforced by James' belated reply, telling me that it was obviously a scam, that the bloke's English was terrible for one thing.

But by then it was too late. Lester has my address and phone number. What he's going to do with it I can only guess. He's probably cloning a dozen SIM cards as I write.

James's reaction to my security lapse cannot be repeated here, other than to say it involved a lot of colourful language and ended by asking if I had a brain.

And now I'm left wondering exactly what Lester can do with the details I gave him. I mean it's not like he has my pincode or anything. All the same, it's a bit disconcerting.

Having looked at my Saatchi profile, Lester would also have my year and place of birth.

I have of course informed Interpol and MI5, just in case.

I wait with baited breath.

PS: I have posted the email conversation with Lester below, to show you what a fool I have been and also as a warning to others not to be hoodwinked by the flattering words of a scam merchant. Especially when he can't write. I have, of course, crossed out my address this time round.


I just saw your ad on saatchi today.I am
interested in it.Please let me know if it
is still available for sale and what your final
price is.Hope to hear from
you soon. ....

Thank You


Thanks for your interest. Yes, the artwork is still available.


Thanks for your response,i saw this masterpiece and i love it so much,i reside in Southern
England,Poole to be precise,but am in South Africa right now for an Exhibition on the Soccer World
cup Going on now .But i can arrnage with my Personal Assistant to make payment
immediately we agree on a solid term.

I am interested in immediate purchase of the piece,but before i proceed on this transaction i will
like to ask some question as follow:

1. Would you accept a (Bank Draft/Money Order) as a mode of payment?
2. What is the final asking price you can go at last?
3. Will you let our shipping company to come to your location for the pick up of the Artpiece
because we don't want you to worry yourself about the shipping of the item,my private shipping
company will be responsible for that.
4:if you agree with my terms,kindly send me your FULL NAME, CONTACT ADDRESS,TEL # to mail out the
payment to.I am ready to purchase this if you are ready too and i want you to assure me that i
would have this Artpiece because i really love it and i wish i hang it in my home in Poole.

Thank you and am expecting your earliest response to this offer.

Kind regards
Lester Hathcote


I want to make sure you are aware of the size of the piece. This is an A5 sized artwork in a frame which takes it up to size A4 in total. It could easily be packaged securely and shipped via Royal Mail.

You are welcome to send your shipping company to collect the item but I suspect this will be at substantial additional cost to yourself.

The final asking price is as previously stated (£125 shipped framed, £100 shipped unframed) but I will deduct £10gbp if you arrange your own shipping.

I prefer to be paid via Paypal. This protects both of us and is a convenient and instant payment method. I am sure your assistant would be able to set up an account for you. You can set an account up with your hotmail address and pay me using this gmail address. It really is that simple.

Please let me know if you will be able to do this. If you would prefer me to deal with your assistant directly please pass on my email to her.

Kind regards



We dont operate paypal .we only operate on checks and we wait upon the check to clear before we can proceed .
Kindly get back to me .



The address for sending the banker's draft / postal order to is:

Graham Hutson

Tel: xxxxxxxxx

The price for the framed artwork is £125 shipped
Unframed: £100 shipped

If you wish to arrange collection the price will be:
£115 framed
£90 unframed

Feel free to call to arrange collection.

Please allow a day or so for the banker's draft / postal order to be paid in.

Kind regards
Graham Hutson


Good Morning Braham and are you and your family? Regarding to the purchase of the artwork,i have forward your details to the accounting Dept of where i work and they will be mailing to you the payment as soon as possible. When u have it to proceed to cash it and deduct your money from it .The balance will be wire to my handler to they can make arrangement for the pick up in your place.

I will be waiting to read from you



Thanks Lester. Where do you work?

People who read this post also read :


  1. Hi Huston, a couple of hours ago i recived exactly the same mail. My name is Ana and i´m from Spain. searching information about this bloke, i´m glad i´ve found this blog.
    Please let me know if you get any further information. If I find something I will contact you too.

    of course I´m registered in Saatchi.
    Ana María Armada

  2. Hi Ana
    I'm pleased you found this blog before you went any further.

    I'm going to let Saatchi know about this.

    Best regards

  3. UPDATE:

    A minute ago I got another email from the man Lester, saying this:

    Hello sorry for the late response i have been so busy due to the world cup going on..i hereby inform you of the check to be delivered to you any time soon( the amount on it is 2,000 Euro. Kindly get back to me as soon as you have it.thanks Lester

    So Lester is perpetrating what is known as an Overpayment Cheque Scam. Basically he sends the cheque, I bank then return the overpayment to him by way of a wire transfer and then the cheque bounces.

    When the cheque arrives it's going straight to the police station.

  4. Please consider providing link to - Report All Scams Here. empowering people with information to protect themselves and others. Thanks!

  5. hi , i receive the same,,,and i give you the rest of the conversation:-))..and he call me before give me this..

    Hello get back to me regarding the check in your possession.

    I wont take this easy with you dont get back to me .

    Thanks lester

  6. today is this conversation with Lester Hathcote:
    "a check was sent to you and delivered ....where is the check"
    "The amount on check sent is 2000...."
    "before you acuse me...maybe i must receive some documents in this email..i understand, you are not a serrios person...and if you not resolve this situation , i give this emails to the authorities.i am a serrios person and a very good artist...i don t like what you make..."

    for what this person abuse as?????

  7. i receive the same emails...after one message in saatchi online in 16june... i'm from Romania...maybe we expacting a guest..i dont know, for what????

  8. It looks like Lester has been busy, and in more than one country. There is now an update to this story which I will be posting on very soon, so keep reading ...

  9. Graham, for what ask you Lester this:"Good Morning Braham and are you and your family? " after you give the adress????
    you give some information about your family?because he don't ask me this...
    hi Ana, he ask you the same something about your family?

  10. Dear anonymous
    I believe that is Lester's attempt at being friendly. Nigerian scam merchants are friendly types (I'm generalising here. He might not be from Nigeria).
    Please see my latest post.

  11. :-)))sure...we are artists, and very friendly too...
    thanks a lot ,Graham

  12. Hello there, since a few days I'm talking with a Lester Hathcote on a datingsite LEXA.
    Now I begin to be a bit scared when I read all this.
    It seems to be the same Lester and he has also my telephonenumber and email, also on my work.

  13. I'm from Holland and allreay send you a message. I met him also a few days ago on Lexa. I've got his phonenumber! And he recieved my sms. He told me so. Write a comment if I can help.

  14. I've heard nothing from Lester since I told him the police were involved. Feel free to comment with his phone number on here, and I will publish it for all to see.