January 12, 2008

Fraud...


Most of us with websites will receive occasional emails from strangers who comment favorably on our work and the feedback is always appreciated. In 2005 I learned that it's also valuable to have savvy viewers who recognize your work when they see it being auctioned off on eBay under someone else's name! Well, *my* work wasn't being sold, but the knock-offs were! My friendly informant gave me the link to the eBay site where I found numerous installation shots lifted from my site and used to 'enhance' the eBay site of "Anna Norman."











Here you see, on the left, a pitiful copy of the painting shown on the upper right corner of the eBay page containing images of my work used to promote his.

The trail soon led to the web site of a "gallery" run by a young Russian located in Minnesota. One of his gallery artists included "Amanda Jensen" whose site was... MINE! Word for word and image by image, totally mine except for changing the artist's name and a few identifying resume lines.

Images of my exhibition installations were used by both Anna and Amanda... thought neither person actually exist except in the mind of one Leo*nid Shch*igel... who, I found, even had an interview on his local NPR station. He did actually have a gallery, apparently, where he pushed his surrealistic paintings. I love this remark at the end of the interview: "... if surrealism doesn't sell, he'll paint flowers, landscapes, abstract art -- anything that will help him avoid working a regular job." Yeah, right!

I contacted both the IFCC and the fraud department at eBay. Since I had extensive screen shots of his dealings compared to my own website images, he was quickly removed from eBay and soon all evidence of him (except the interview) disappeared from the web. Hot Dang! Of Course, all it takes is a name change on the web and he's probably off and running again, using someone else's site and images... and so it goes...

(The * in the man's name is to throw off search engines... should they be searching...)

11 comments:

self taught artist said...

enlighten me, if he used your site word for word, what exactly was he selling of from this psuedo person who's work was yours?
bizarro.

Joe said...

Copies -

My mom has ninja-like internet skills.

KJ said...

All the better to keep you in line... and that was sometime before the Internet!

thealteredpage said...

Wow. That these type of scams exist always amazes me. I am glad that you discovered it and were persistent and effective in closing him down.

Joanie San Chirico said...

Holy cow! How blatant of this guy. Did he really think no one would notice? Thanks for the heads up, maybe we all should check ebay for fraud like this. Who knew?

Rebecca Crowell said...

That's incredible! I wonder what is the best way to catch something like this (in the absence of a sharp-eyed fan)?

KJ said...

Google Alerts can track descriptive words in your resume or bio (use quotes) but tracking images isn't there for us yet. Although this is the most blatant example, it isn't the only one I've found. This type of thing is probably quite common, I suspect. I went into a virtual fetal position following this episode, making my site almost stealth like... but I got over it and now I'm blabbing my life away to any and all who will look and listen ;-)

Olga said...

Thank you so much for alerting us to this dastardly behaviour. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but it's one one can do well without! We shall have to be super vigilant.

Annie B said...

What an amazingly brazen thing to do! I mean what Leo*nid did, not what you did. Unbelievable. I'm impressed that you figured out a way to get some action taken.

Lisa said...

wow - amazing story. Good for you for being so on top of things and stopping it.

And thanks for the link! I've been meaning to say that for a while - catching up...

Nikole said...

Karen -- I was stunned to read this. I always thought the biggest risk was having your images copied in Timbuktoo and sold as prints -- I wasn't to worried about that! Did you get any useful publicity out of it? After all, NYTimes wrote about you once. How about suggesting an article about it? I guess the keyword here is, is it "useful publicity"?