All kinds of scams exist online, and artists are not certainly free from being victimized.
Just recently I had an email from someone looking to buy two of my paintings. This is how the email went…

 

Hi,
Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creative works on your
website and i will like you to get back with more details if they are
still available for purchase.

Impediment  and  Theres Always Hope
I will appreciate an urgent reply.
Best Regards,
Tracy Mason

 

stop art scamsRight away, I knew this message was suspicious. The person didn’t even mention my name and they expected an urgent reply.

This stranger also wanted two artworks from me at once. (Too good to be true!)

So, I decided to do a little investigating of my own. I highlighted the part in blue, and copied and pasted into Google search box. (If you are ever doubtful about a message, always try this little trick)

These are my Google search results.

 

 

 

art scams google

I saw that many other artists had already received the same message, and many others were warning about this particular art scam. Now that I was positive this was a scam (I already knew, but this proved it for me!), I decided to play along. I wrote back with a very simple message, not even giving details or pricing info.

Hi Tracy,

Yes, both are still available.

Thank-you for your interest.

Graham

It took only a couple hours for me to receive a message back.

 

Hi Graham ,
Thanks so much for your response to my query about those creative
works. I will like to  proceed with the purchase of both pieces . Can
you pls confirm the  actual size and  price  of the two pieces so i
can know how best to proceed.  I will also like to know  what inspire
you to make the pieces.
I will look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best Regards,
Tracy.

 

Well, they actually addressed me by name, I thought. But, this person apparently committed to purchasing two of my artworks, BEFORE even knowing the size and price. They also asked me what inspired me to create both artworks. If they actually read my blog, they would have seen this already!

I wrote back and gave them information on both pieces, and gave them the links to the posts at my art blog where they could find additional information. This what I received back a few hours later.

 

Hi Graham ,
Good to hear back from you. Yes,i will like to proceed with the
purchase of both works.  I think they are lovely works  and i hope to
give them good home.
I am presently on my way to Paris for my Sister's wedding even though
it comes at a time when i am preparing for a big move to Saratoga
Springs, NY but it means so much to her and i should be back in few
days.
Meanwhile,i will like you to forward your mailing address and phone
number so i can inform my husband on where to forward the payment . He
is in Europe for a business conference but should be able to get one
of his PA to handle the payment. I can also forward your contact info
to the local cartage company that will be moving all our house decors
so they can get in touch with you to arrange shipping details. They
can arrange FedEx or UPS pick up of the artworks from your studio
I will look forward to hearing from you so i can know how best to
proceed. Cheers.
Best Regards,
Tracy.

 

Woo hoo!! I SOLD two artworks!! Hahaha! … well, not today…

I was certainly NOT going to give them any contact information, so I wrote this message and never heard from them again.

Hi Tracy,

I have just received your email asking for my address and phone information to ship the payment and right now I only accept email transfers and Paypal as a source of payment.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Graham

In the interest of alerting those of you who have not heard of email art fraud and art scams, I have compiled a list of things to watch out for.

 

How to Know Email Art Scams

  1. Create your own Website!All messages were copy and pasted. It was easy to see this by the spacing and similar messages can be found by searching on Google.

  2. If it’s too good to be true, then it most likely is. These scammers take advantage of artists who they think are desperate to sell artworks. They think that some may fall for this fraud. Some probably do, or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

  3. The email messages have very poor grammar. They appear to be written by a foreigner with little knowledge of the English language.

  4. They make it appear to be an urgent matter.

  5. They only want payment by check. Since I already knew this, I knew I would never be messaged again after replying that I only used Paypal and email money transfer.

  6. I read elsewhere how this particular art scam works. The scammers create a fake check from another company. The amount on the check is much more than the cost of the artwork, so the scammer asks that you send them the difference. If the check is cashed and the difference is sent to the scammers, the company will eventually realize that their money was taken. The artist will be the one who will have to pay, because he/she cashed the check.

  7. Go to this post at Stop Art Scams, where you can see how this particular scam plays out. The message is strikingly similar to the ones I received, but as you can see, this person proceeded much further than I did. There are also other posts about artists intentionally playing it out long enough to receive the fraudulent check, but this is most certainly NOT recommended. Having a fraudulent check could land you in jail!

Have you received a similar art scam email message such as the one I received? If you know a different type of art scam, please alert us about it here.





17 comments:

  1. I have received the same exact scam emails. I recently got one for a couple of paintings I have for sale but I have received a similar one approx. 2 years ago for a classic car I was selling, so I recognized the scam.
    Terrible thing for these crooks to do and the fact that it is still being done means that they are successful with it enough to make it worth their while.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great advice, Graham. Through the years I've received a number of these, and thankfully got taken. The thing that jumps out at me first is the 'urgent' part of these message.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @AnonymousThis particular art scam has been around since at least 2010 (can see this from the search results) without a change in wording!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I wrote a blog article about this a while ago, because I noticed a lot of people in the forums on artfire asking if it was a scam or reporting having fallen for it.

    http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/blog_post/amyelyseneer/7023/how_to_tell_if_you_are_being_scammed

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Amy-Elyse
    Thanks for the blog article.. very in depth post... and REALLY helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have received this scam several times. The first time I received it I responded in sincerity, but very quickly became suspicious. Once suspicious, I broke off all further communication.

    Since then I have received a similar email, and through an online art group that I belong to I have come to realize how pervasive these art scams are.

    Sadly, these scammers prey on artists who work alone, may be naive, and who are starved for attention to their work.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was getting many art scams like this and I wrote an article on it at http://bobestrin.com/artscam.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, this is a variation of a scam I went along with to see how far they would go. After many emails, the upshot was that 'she'was away on business and had left the cheque book with a colleague -(who could only send me a huge cheque, as she couldn't issue one heself and had to use one that was pre-signed - Imagine!)
    I was asked to cash the cheque and send the change by cheque. I replied that I didn't want to be responsible for someone else's money. To get back to me later - they didn't

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have also received these email scams and the poor grammar is a red flag every time. I did respond one time and stated I only use Paypal. Of course, I never heard from them again. Good advice!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I too have been approached by scammers through my Etsy account. They wanted my email address for my Paypal account because they didn't want to wait for the trans action to clear Paypal.. That Really set off a HUGE red flag. The language used in the email was much like that of the Eastern Europeans seen on TV who are trying to speak English. She also told me that she wanted to use her own shipping company which is another huge ploy the scammers use. They take the merchandise and ship it with their own shipper before your transaction clears and you have no clear trace on the merchandise once it leaves your hands.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I received this e-mail:

    Name
    lovelt swandrick

    E-mail
    slvt327@ymail.com

    Message
    Hello,
    I am emailing to inquire about availability of artwork for sale in your gallery, if you can ship international and also if you are able to process Electronically Visa and Master Card Number/Expiry date/Cvv as payment. Let me know so that i can communicate with you on the artworks that interest me,you can also indicate to me which of the arts are sold and which are available on your website.
    I will be looking forward to reading from you.
    Sincerely
    Lovelt

    "After I answered him he responded with"
    Hello,
    Good to hear from you,
    Below are the artworks that interest me so i want you to get back to me with the cost price of each so i can give you the credit card number to run for the payment


    Morning Walk. oil on canvas, 90 x 70 cm
    ====================================================================
    Along came Pixy. Oil on canvas 70 x 90 cm
    ====================================================================
    Lucrezia. Oil on wood. 50 x 40 cm.
    ===================================================================
    Laetitia. Oil on wood. 50 x 40 cm.
    ==================================================================
    Hypatia. Oil on wood. 50 x 40 cm.


    I want you to get back to me with the cost of the above so that you can have the payment.
    I will be looking forward to hear from you asap.
    Thanks
    Lovelt

    "After I gave him the pricelist he wrote back":
    Hi,

    Thank you for getting back with the cost of each of the artwork i am okay with the cost therefore i want you to get them packed while on the shipping one will have to pay additional fee at the delivery point here in Guernsey because they will never bring to ones house. courier like Fedex, UPS are not worth it here especially USPS all of them are not rendering good service here probably because they already known very well.
    You can contact this courier Jonas Freight (jonasfreight@live.com) as well with the weight and cost of the artwork for the shipping and insurance to my address because they ship and deliver safely without one paying any other money before collecting the goods unlike some other

    courier where it will not be delivered to your address rather you will have to go to their office to pick it up and when you get there you will be told to pay other money before collecting it.
    I will be looking forward to hearing from you asap.
    Thanks
    Shipping Address

    15 The Monic St. Peter Port, GY1 2PX
    Channel Islands Guernsey

    "I tried to find anything about the courier he suggested on the internet, but there was nothing! So I told him I was gouing to use UPS and that I was going to give him the VISA banknumber for payment. I never heard of him again. Never ever use a courier someone is suggesting!!
    Laurens

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello!

    I received exactly the same message but I smelled a scam so I checked the internet: Thanks for posting this; you saved me a lot of time. What it is not clear to me is, what's the deal? What do they win with this scam?
    Thanks again for posting:)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I also recently received a similar scam email. Something about it worried me and I used the advice on this site to google it. So thank you and others that have written and blogged about the scams as it stopped me getting caught out. What it did prompt me to do was speak to my bank and the Federation of Small Businesses (UK) and I have now an International payments policy. FYI an international cheque can take up to 6 weeks to fully clear in the UK and a fraudulent credit card payment can be taken back out of your account even after 6 months without notice. The advice was that the only secure way to take an international payment was electronic transfer (they even advised against using paypal). The ET takes up to 5 working days to clear but cannot then be withdrawn without the account holder's permission. Re shipping, even if the shipper is genuine, the contract needs to be between the sender and the shipper. This means that the sender has control and recourse to claim under shipping insurance.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes I was almost scammed about six years ago, they told me they were from London but it turned out in the end that they were from Nigeria. I'm not sure what they hoped to gain from steeling my artwork but thankfully I suspected a scam (mostly because of the way the email was written) and I demanded payment before I sent any work to them, they sent me obvious fake travellers cheques for far more than what I asked for. I now have trackers on my websites and I can see when I get hits from Nigeria, China or any other suspicious place. It's sad but it has to be like that if you don't want to get taken for a ride. I pity the legitimate people that live in those areas of the globe that want shop on line.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thanks for the heads up, ill watch out for this

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you for the post, it can't be said often enough, because the scammers are criminals and they will try any avenue when one doesn't pay they'll try more covert methods. :-b for all the artists that like me and that would be all of us that dare to represent ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I got these scam emails before. I usually just delete them after reading them. The bad English tips me off. And if they really were interested they would know the name and price of the artworks already. I also get emails from "prestigious New York galleries" saying they love my work and are interested in showing my work. I know my work is not New York ready. After some investigating they turn out to be vanity galleries.

    ReplyDelete

Thank-you for your comment!

 
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