Illustrators – beware the Donald Livingston SCAM

(sorry this is cut and pasted from elsewhere but I wrote it and wanted to make sure the rest of you saw it)

Illustrators — please beware of someone calling themselves “Donald Livingston” ( who will want to hire you for some sort of illustration project and will insist on sending you a check ASAP. “Donald” has also used other names and email addresses and is targeting artists and illustrators.

The whole thing started out normally enough – I got a query email from a stranger asking if I was available to do some illustration work. The illustrations were not exactly what I am known for (young kids performing pandemic related social distancing, vaccination, etc.), but I’ve gotten weird requests before and the offer was generous so I replied that I was willing and able. After exchanging a few emails about due dates and sending him a copy of my contract, Mr. Livingston told me he would send me a deposit. He did not send back the signed contract but I did not notice this at the time.

In my case, the check arrived on a Friday via priority mail and was for twice the agreed upon “half up front” amount. Mr Livingston urged me to deposit the check immediately, and, after I had done so, he texted to say that because of unavoidable circumstances, etc., etc., the project has been partially cancelled and I needed to send back half the money. He urged me to use a cash app I had never heard of called “Zelle” to wire the money back right away, etc., etc. and said he needs the money RIGHT NOW. I’m guessing his urgency is based on the fact that the “cashiers” check he sent me won’t clear deposit once the bank opens again on Monday. In his first email, he claimed to be hearing impaired (I guess to plant in my mind the idea that I shouldn’t be expecting an actual voice call with Mr. Livingston). I didn’t fall for it but feel a little foolish at having wasted as much time on these shenanigans. Please don’t waste your time with this scam.

I’ve reported this to the USPS and the FBI – I doubt they will be able to do anything about it – but want to do what I can to protect others.

4 Comments on “Illustrators – beware the Donald Livingston SCAM”

  1. Danielle says:

    Thank you for this! He just emailed me via my website and I thought it seemed really strange.

  2. Avi Katz says:

    Thanks Stefan I felt something was fishy about this proposal but figured I had nothing to lose as long as I didn’t give any details. I almost stepped in it! –Avi Katz Art&Illustration from Israel

  3. stefan says:

    Good – I’m glad a couple people have benefited from my post. I guess let us all help get the word out on scammers targeting artists.

  4. And you guys read Fritz Lieber? OK …1st not some guy, a cartel, 2nd old scam, the check never cashes,if it does, t is a check from someone else they ripped off, How do I know? I’m a barber. They hit us all as soon as we post for the first time on Instagram. For us, it was a deposit of $1200 for wedding hairstyles. Sounded too good to be true… Lol….like you gonna drop a K$ to a barber you never met to cut you for a wedding, and not even negotiate the cigars and whiskey? Yeah it was a sad attempt…
    Zelle is super common, I get paid through Zelle as a barber, It is a common banking app, all the big banks have it. Cash is King

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