By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
August 08. 2018 10:35AM
This abstract titled “Pink and Orange” was one of two paintings created by state Rep. Ken Gidge of Nashua that a scammer attempted to purchase using an elaborate fraud scheme. (COURTESY OF GIDGEWORLD)
NASHUA — A local artist and state representative was almost the victim of an elaborate art scheme, but his wife, the bookkeeper, was able to foil the scammer.
Now, the couple is hoping to keep other artists from being victimized.
“Artists work really hard and they tend to be undervalued. When you make a sale it is a big deal, so to have someone falsify their interest is extremely disappointing,” said Lee Guerette, the wife of Rep. Ken Gidge, also a city alderman.
The couple would have lost nearly $3,000 if Guerette didn’t catch on to the deception.
A woman from Greece contacted GidgeWorld art studio inquiring about two separate pieces of artwork valued at a total of about $1,075, plus the cost of insurance and shipping, which nearly doubled the price tag.
The buyer insisted that Guerette utilize a bookkeeping payment system that the buyer was familiar with to purchase the two paintings created by Gidge. The buyer then asked Guerette to use a specific freight company.
She believes the buyer and the freight company were working together to complete the scam.
“Fortunately I caught on. They did a chargeback on a Friday night and I happened to be looking at the account on a Saturday morning. Things just didn’t fit,” explained Guerette, who was able to issue a stop payment. “It is such a complicated scam — it is international fraud.”
She said the scammer tried to withdraw from the account six times, therefore resulting in overdraft charges.
Guerette, who has identity theft protection, has contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office to inform them about the scheme, in the hopes that the agency will investigate or at least notify the public about the scam.
“I don’t want other people to be scammed, and I especially don’t want artists to be hit in this way,” she said. “All of the paperwork looked legitimate, especially the details about customs. I was 98 percent convinced it was real.”
Gidge described the scam as an attack on art.
“As an artist, this really hurts me. I am discouraged at so many levels. I know it comes down to money, period,” he said.
Guerette said it is fortunate that the artwork was never shipped, but now the abstract canvas paintings haven’t been sold.
“I am not that pleased, but I am pleased that we didn’t get taken for more money. In the end it would have cost us about $3,000, and we don’t have that kind of money to lose,” said Guerette.