Guest blogger Nancy Reyner warns us about scams aimed at artists in this informative article.
People fall victim to scams every day, and artists are particular vulnerable. As artists we may be busier than your average person, as we usually hold at least two jobs – making our art, as well as running the business side. When we over-extend ourselves, we may not have the time and energy to think clearly enough to recognize a scam that comes our way. We like to encourage new clients and opportunities and may feel hesitant about calling a scammer a scammer.
Scams aimed at artists come in several forms, however most of these scams are initiated with an email to the artist. Note that Artist-Run, Cooperative Galleries are not considered scams because these are organized by artists, for the benefits of its members. Another note, “Calls for Artists”, such as for juried exhibitions, are usually legitimate; however, make sure to enter only those contests from established art organizations, with well-known judges, requiring no entry fee or minimal entry fees ($30 or less).
Types of Scams
• Vanity Galleries: These galleries email artists and tease them into thinking they are being offered representation, yet require the artist to pay high fees to have their work exhibited. Read Renée Phillips’ article on Vanity Galleries at https://renee-phillips.com/vanity-galleries/
• Vanity Art Book Publishers: Same as Vanity Galleries in that they charge high fees to print your artwork in a publication.
• Scam Purchasing: Buying artwork through emails, with bad checks, and asking for money to reimburse excess payments for shipping.
Here I will concentrate on the Scam Purchasing. Here’s an email scam I recently received. I get at least a few of these every week. Read this and see if you can tell it’s a scam. If you can’t, then read on to find some tips on how to become scam saavy.
From: Anthonio j <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 4:08 PM
Subject: ARTWORK NEEDED
My name is Anthonio Jack from Oregon. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and I guess she likes your piece of work, I’m also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too,You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you.. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.
Thanks and best regards.
If you were to follow through and reply to this email, the scammer will ask to purchase multiple paintings usually large sizes so shipping costs are high. They will send you a cashiers check for the total cost of the paintings plus shipping along with an excess (they offer it in case shipping costs more). The BIG CLUE is the excess money they pay to you. You deposit the check, and the bank declares it clear in 2 weeks. You are then instructed to ship the paintings, along with a check for the excess shipping, to an overseas address.
The scamming purchaser will be in a BIG hurry for you to ship. That is because the check will eventually bounce, but that will take 30 days. When the check bounces you are out of luck, and the bank will not insure you.
You lose the paintings and the money. When you first deposit the check, if you ask the bank manager to research the check, he will tell you it is a bad check. But if you just let the bank process it normally you won’t know it is a bad check until you have already shipped your paintings and the money.
This scam used to only work when they paid with an overseas check. Now some scammers have gotten smarter and will offer to use a credit card (with stolen numbers) and even Paypal (using a fake Paypal link asking for YOUR Paypal login – and then they get your login info.
Again, the scam only works for the scammer when excess payments are made by the scammer to you. And you will be asked to send money with the artwork.
I do not reply to these emails. However, if I am unsure I will email them back (not using the reply, but starting a new email by copying and pasting their email address) with the following:
Thank you for your interest in purchasing my artwork. I am sorry I accidentally deleted your email listing the paintings you were interested in purchasing. Kindly tell me which paintings you wanted.
Scammers send out so many emails, they most likely will not be able to find the original email they sent, and will pick different paintings. A good clue this is a scam!
Reject Offers that Contain These Warning Signs
• Has many typos or run-on sentences
• Doesn’t use proper English
• Does not know you and is not familiar with your work
• Is asking about specific work on your website that is clearly indicated as sold
• Asks questions about the work, like prices, that are already listed on your site
• Are in a BIG HURRY to get your artwork
• Say they are moving with locations that are out of the country (particularly from Nigeria)
• Want to arrange shipping with an agent or third party shipper or mover that will pick it up directly
The BIG clue is that they will ALWAYS send more money than is due (with a convoluted story as to why) so you will be obliged to give them a check for the excess (usually involving Western Union which is untraceable).
Tips on Identifying and Avoiding Scams
• Stay alert when reading emails. Do not make hasty decisions.
• Check out everything you can on the internet about a person making a proposal to you.
• Read up on current schemes. Search online for “email scams aimed at artists”.
• If something feels odd about the request trust your intuition!
• Notice when an offer or deal is “too good to be true.”
• Delete all scam proposals from your email.
• Do not reply, open any attachments, or click on any links.
Nancy Reyner is a world renowned artist, instructor and author. She also offers creative and career advice through consultations. Visit her website nancyreyner.com to view her artwork and to read for more of her articles written to help artists.