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…
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.
Right 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.
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.
Yes, both are still available.
Thank-you for your interest.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- The email messages have very poor grammar. They appear to be written by a foreigner with little knowledge of the English language.
- They make it appear to be an urgent matter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.