Posted on January 19, 2014 · Posted in Blog

Art scams abound. Artists, ever get this email?…

Artist Beware

“Hi there,my name is XXX (Larry, Bob, etc.) im an art collector from XXX (wherever),was browsing through the internet and my eyes caught this particular work(Art Title) on the subject,will like to have it for my new apartment probably this month.please let me know if the piece is available and if yes let me have the detailed price and more information about it.kindly reply me with your phone#. Regards.”

So, you think (optimistically) maybe this person is interested in acquiring an artwork. Nice.

Naturally, you fire off a polite reply to your perspective collector with the pertinent information about your art, letting them know that it’s available, its size, links to the site and the store where they can purchase the artwork. That information, by the way, is often already on the web site, or at least available online.

A little later, you get a reply…

“Thanks for the message,i am very happy to know that the Artwork is still available for sale. i must tell you i am very much interested in the immediate purchase and i am willing to pay the asking price.Will be paying you via check,this will not take time at all because the payment will be sent out immediately i read back from you.You don’t have to worry about shipment, my shipper will handle it.This is because i am currently out of the country on a business proposal. So get back to me with the information needed to send you the payment I:E :Full Name,Standard Mailing Address,asking price reconfirmation so that i can proceed with the payment arrangement, consider it sold get back to me with the details.will await your message.
XXX.”

Ahhh… but I’ve seen this reply before – typos and all. Immediately, red flags go up and I get suspicious. Now I’m in research mode, confirming what I already know. In today’s world of readily available information online it’s relatively easy to figure out who’s real and who’s not – at least easier than it was years ago when these same emails started. And ironically, the message is still pretty much the same as it has been for years. These guys have no imagination.

My next step was to confirm my suspicions and do a little research. I Googled the sender’s email address and got this…”Scammer Names used to target the Art Industry – ArtQuest“. That can’t be good. While the link didn’t work it was literally the only result in my search.

Then I searched for ‘Art Scam” and found this site – MESART – which references the exact same email text that I was sent. Coincidence?… I think not. Thanks MESART for the heads up.

Anyway, I replied (although I’m still not sure why) as suggested on the MESART site with the following…

“I have received this type of email in the past – the immediacy, and the out of the country at the moment, etc. So when you return, or from wherever you are, since access to the internet is worldwide, go to my website and click the “Buy” button and you will get your painting as soon as my web host has cleared your check. Thanks!”

I’m not a gambling man, but I’d lay money on him never getting back to me.

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For the sake of this post I’ve purposely included the typos from the emails I received. Typos, especially grossly obvious typos, are often a giveaway that something could be wrong. Not always, but more often than not.

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Art Scams - don't fall victum

So, what can artists do to protect themselves? These schemes are not always as much about getting the art as they are about getting your personal information and extorting money from the you.

I’d like to point out that I’m no expert in this matter, although I’ve received similar emails for as long as I can remember. What I do suggest from my experience is that you do your research when you get these emails, or any email that sounds vague or too good to be true.

Following are a few links to better educate and protect yourself…

• MESART Scam and Hoax List > MESART.com/art/Account:Scam_and_Hoax_List

• ArtScams – Who Really Scammed You? > ArtScams.com

 • Stop Art Scams by spreading the word to other artists > ArtScams.com/takeaction.html

FTC’s Tips for Dealing with Spam Emails

Internet Crime Complaint Center

Stop Art Scams / Facebook – Email Scam Alerts to share, educate, and assist artists in NOT falling victim to these fake requests to purchase from them.

• Artist Kathleen McMahon has put together an excellent article on how these scammers operate, and she even included a list of know art scammers. Every artist should read this and share with your fellow artists > KathleenMcMahon.com/info/scammer-names.html

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