While art scammers are around all year long, the holidays are the time when they come out in droves.  The internet is an easy way for art scammers to operate. Therefore, artists need to be aware of and able to identify these unscrupulous individuals.

Since artists began marketing and selling their artwork on the internet, they have, unfortunately, become a target of worldwide scammers.

Last year, it was brought to the Gallery’s attention that artists were being contacted and solicited to purchase an attendee list for something called “Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery 2019 Attendees List”. This was is not a legitimate email or event, nor was LST affiliated with any of the emails in any way.

After several of our artists brought this scam to our attention, we posted a notice on the website, in our newsletter and on our social media to alert our artists to this scam.  However, artists must be able to identify scammers on their own.

So in this post we are highlighting 7 signs that you are dealing with an art scammer.

The most common art scam is for a scammer to make contact with an artist and say that they want to buy some of their artwork that they saw online.  To the unwary, hungry artist this is surely great news. 

What the scammer wants is for the artist to ship the art without paying for it. In reality, they will be providing the artist with stolen credit card numbers or with phony checks in order to make the art purchase.

This scam works for the scammer because the transaction will take time due to the distance involved for both parties.  To the unwary artist, the credit card transaction will go through, the art is shipped, only for the artist to find out later that credit card number was stolen or that the check was no good.  As a consequence of all this, the artist is out of their art and the costs involved in creating it, plus the cost of the shipping. 

 

Below are the top 7 signs an artist is dealing with an art scammer:

  1. The email solicitation is poorly written, with words misspelled and/or poor grammar. Oftentimes even the email address is a misspelled word like “eventes” as opposed to “events” or the scammer signs one email with one name and a reply to you with a different name.
  2. Scammers will have elaborate stories as to why they want to buy the art, usually an “anniversary” or “special occasion”. This is so the artist will ship the art quickly before it is discovered that the funds are no good or that the credit card was stolen.
  3. Scammers will provide vague compliments about your art but usually can’t remember all of the details of the piece they are inquiring about. Or they easily get the artwork mixed up with others and/or ask the artist to send images of available artworks within a certain price point.  Remember, scammers are doing this scam with hundreds of artists, and that is why they are getting the art mixed up.
  4. Scammers usually live outside of the USA or are planning a “relocation move” and must receive the art quickly.
  5. Scammers will often offer to “over pay” for the item as an inducement to do business with them.
  6. Scammers will often want to pay by “personal” check and will refuse to use other legitimate and reputable methods of payment like PayPal.  Of course, paying by check is a legitimate payment method for vetted buyers, but caution is advised for unknown internet buyers who refuse to consider any other kind of payment.
  7. Scammers will often say that they will have “their shipper” contact the artist or will suggest that they have a friend or relative pick up the art directly from the artist.  They will often offer to reimburse the artist for shipping and that they will include that cost in their payment. This is a way to quicken the transaction, which is exactly what the scammer wants.

Art scammers have one objective and that is to separate artists from their art or from their money, or both.  When approached by a stranger on the internet, always be aware of and skeptical of phony emails and solicitations. 

All artists should attempt to get to know their buyers and be comfortable with the people they are dealing with when selling their art on the internet. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Artists should not abandon good judgment and common sense when trying to sell and deliver their art to an art buyer.

Our previous article, 5 Tips on How to Avoid Art Scams & Art Fraud also provides good advice for how artists can identify and protect themselves from art scammers, especially during this holiday season. 

 

How to Avoid Art ScamsIn the excitement and in an effort to make a sale of their art, many artists may not use good judgment during the transaction.

If sound business practices are ignored, this transaction may ultimately cause the artist to lose money, their art or in some cases, both.

Here are a few tips and reminders in order to help artists avoid art scams and art fraud when dealing with the public on a potential sale of their work.

1.         Deal with people in your local area

The best way to avoid art scammers is to deal with buyers on a local level, people that you can meet in person. Art scammers will often contact you from another region or country far away.  They will usually want you to ship the art that you are selling to them. 

2.         Never wire funds to anyone that you do not know

If you're asked to wire funds back to the buyer of your art, you are most likely dealing with an art scammer.  Beware!

The buyer of your art will offer to send you more money than what is required to complete the transaction.  They will then ask you to wire the difference back to them.  While their check to you is being cleared by the bank, you will be asked to send the overage amount back to them by wire transfer.  Their check will bounce but by then it is too late for you, as the wire is not traceable.  You will be required to make up any differences and fees, besides losing your money.  (See Example #3 Below)

3.         Beware of fake cashier's checks and money orders

Scammers will often send a fake cashier's check valued above your asking price. They will then ask you to wire the overpayment back to them. Your bank may cash this check, but when it's discovered that the check is fraudulent, you will be held responsible.

4.         Do not provide anyone with your private information

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Do not give anyone your bank account information, credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers, or other personal information.  If you share this type of information with scammers, they will use it to set up new accounts and commit fraud with your identity.

5.         Be cautious when accepting any relay calls

Relay calls are a legitimate service for people with hearing and speech disabilities. However, scammers may also use this service to contact you.  (Another reason to deal locally with people you can meet in person.) The call may come from someone who identifies themselves as being from one of the large telephone companies.  This relay call will make the transaction seem legitimate because the service is for the hearing impaired.  Again, there will be an overcharge amount, with the overage wired back to the “art buyer”.  Do not do this, ever!

Also, avoid shipping and escrow services that you do not know or use.  Art scammers commonly employ fake or online escrow services to handle the transaction.  Many times an art scammer will offer to use “their” shipping company as “they are cheaper than the other shippers”.  These are either fake shippers or people who may also be in on the scam. 

Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Do not abandon good judgment and common sense when trying sell and deliver your work to an art buyer.

Our article 10 Signs You Are Dealing with an Art Scammer provides more ideas on how you can protect yourself during a sale. 

 

10 SIGNS YOU ARE DEALING WITH AN ART SCAMMERSince artists began marketing their artwork on the Internet, they have become a target of worldwide scammers.  Now with the economy being bad this problem has become acute and artists need to be aware of how art scammers operate.

The most common art scam is for a scammer to make contact with an artist  and say that they want to buy some if their artwork that they saw online.  To the unwary, hungry artist this is surely great news.  What the scammer wants is for the artist to ship the art to them without paying for it. In reality, what they will be doing is that they will be providing the artist with stolen credit card numbers or with phony checks in order to make the art purchase.

This scam works for the scammer because the transaction will take time due to the distance involved for both parties.  To the unwary artist, the credit card transaction will go through, the art is shipped, only for the artist to find out later that credit card number was stolen and or that the check was no good and that the artist will not be receiving their funds.  Then as a consequence of all this, the artist is out of their art and the costs involved, plus the cost of the shipping. 

Whenever I am approached by someone to buy my art, who I did not know, I always insist that I be paid through PayPal or Payoneer. After that, I usually never heard from those people again.  Another way for an artist to protect themselves in a transaction like this is to insist to have the transaction handled by an escrow agent.  The final transaction, shipping etc. is not completed until all of the funds have been verified and cleared.  Any legitimate buyer or collector of art will not have a problem dealing in either manner.  Anyone who objects to this way of doing business with you is someone who you do not want to do business with!

Here are the top 10 ways for an artist to help to identify if they are dealing with an art scammer:

1.  The scammer usually lives outside of the US.

2.  The scammer will have a story as to why they want to buy the art.

3.  The scammer cannot remember all of the details of the piece of art or  they easily get the artwork mixed up with others.  Remember, that they  are doing this scam with hundreds of artists, and that is why they are  getting the art mixed up.

4.  The email solicitation is usually poorly written, with words misspelled or  with poor grammar.

5.  The scammer will even offer to “over pay” for the item as an inducement to do business with them.

6.  The scammer will mention that they will pay by “cashiers” check.

7.  The scammer will say that they will have “their shipper” contact the artist.

8.  The scammer will suggest that they have a friend, relative or shipper pick  up the art directly from the artist.  This quickens the transaction.

9.  The scammer will offer to reimburse the artist for shipping and that they will include that cost in their payment. 

10. The scammer will say that they need the art “quickly” for some special  occasion. This is so the artist will ship the art quickly before that it is  discovered that the funds are no good or that the credit card was stolen.

Art scammers have one objective and that is to separate the artist from their art or from their money, or both.  When approached by a stranger on the Internet, always be aware of and skeptical of phony emails and solicitations.  The old adage that says “when it sounds too good to be true…” still stands true today.  All artists should be aware of and comfortable with whom they are dealing with when they are selling their art on the Internet.

Here is a related article that we wrote about "5 Tips on How to Avoid Art Scams & Art Fraud" 

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