I have added a new LINK to my list on the right, STOP ART SCAMS. Recently, I have been targeted by art scammers; not new news to some of you, and I usually ignore them - but not today. I chose to write a bit about it and maybe raise awareness among readers.
The names change regularly but the content is pretty much the same. My recent scammer is "Philip Walace" with email address firstname.lastname@example.org. and he wrote:
Good day to you over there, My name is Philip Walace i'm from California and i hope this message finds you well.I was going through your works and my eyes caught...., i will like to have it for my new apartment this month. please let me know if the piece is available, if yes let me have the detailed price and more information about it. i will be waiting to read from you asap."
This may sound legit but it's not; bottom line - someone is trying to steal money from me. In this case Phillip Walace, who had already tried with some artist friends of mine. Oops.
But notice a couple of telling things in his email:
awkward grammer, and though the title of my particular painting was the "subject" of the email, he doesn't even bother to put the name of the piece in the body of the text. This is probably a template letter.
The internet is a way we have to do business, it is no surprise that artists would be targeted but we can become more
aware. I am often contacted through my website about my work and if a piece is in my possession, would not hesitate to sell it. If that weren't the case, why would I bother to show work on line? Just being "out there online" makes me vulnerable but being knowledgeable about the market, aware of scams and having a willingness to WALK AWAY are ways I can protect myself.
When someone contacts me about work - I always "Google" the name of the person who sent the inquiry. If it is a scammer, I am probably not the first to be hit on, and someone else has written about it (one of the great things about the internet community).
I don't want to become cynical but will remain skeptical; I look over emails with a critical eye. Very often a scam will come in the form of an overseas buyer, they want it in a hurry, they want to use their own shipper who will pick up the work, and there may be some overpayment involved.
These are some basic red flags but over time I have put some personal rules into place for the protection of my business.
1. I will not work in a rush. Maybe it comes from too many years as a designer working to impossible deadlines, but as a rule, legitimate buyers are not impulse buyers who just pluck art off the internet like they were at candy counter. I have never had a legitimate buyer quibble with the time it takes for a check to clear the bank, or for UPS to ship.
2. I will never work with anyone who wants to OVERPAY - period,
or pay with a POSTAL MONEY ORDER or CASHIER'S CHECK, which can be fraudulent. This is a good reason to have a PAY PAL account.
I have taken personal checks for payment but always wait for them to clear the bank.
3. I always use myown shipper.
Read more about Art Scams, how they work, how to avoid them etc. go to Art Scams, Art Quest for known scammer names, Artist Network.com,and Stop Art Scams.
An appropriate quote here ". . . . be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."