Does my art make me look like a gullible oaf? I think these days being a little paranoid and cynical is a normal survival mechanism, like a light armor plating, and to not have those characteristics is a surer sign or neurosis than having them. So, when someone contacted me through email about buying one of my pieces, my heart didn’t pump faster, my eyebrow raised. I don’t remember doing it, but I probably instinctively sniffed around for a fishy smell.
There were a couple problems right off the bat, such as that the person making the inquiry was named, “Senior Collins”, and the email had a link to a dead website called “http://artworkisneeded”. Supposedly, mister Senior’s wife had expressed interest in some of my art, and he wanted to include one of my paintings among surprise gifts for her. Doesn’t mesh with my sense of reality, but just in case this might be legit, I sent a link to my online store where one can buy archival prints without risk because there’s a return policy. Payment is done via PayPal.
When I got the reply, I didn’t have to sniff around. A half-decomposed fish landed in my lap. The ostensible buyer wanted to pay by check; he wanted to buy one of my physical paintings; the transaction needed to take place urgently; and there was an excuse as to why I wouldn’t ship the work to him, but rather give my address where his “shipping agent” could come pick it up. There was an immediate requirement for my full name, address, and cell phone number.
I did a little research, and this is a KNOWN SCAM! Here’s an excerpt from the useful site, ART SCAMS.
Example #1 of an email scam aimed at artists…
Subject: Art work Enquiry
Hope this message finds you well,i came across some lovely and creative artworks on your site while searching for good artworks and I will like to buy creative artworks out of your stock. (The email then references specific works by the artist.)
I will be happy to have this selected artworks hanged in our new home. What is the least price? We are travelling from our USA home to our new apartment in London,uk .Regarding payment,I will be happy to pay you with a certified Travellers cheque/moneyorder/cashiers cheque . An urgent reply we be appreciated.Thanks.
Kindly don’t bother to include the shipping cost because i have a private shipper hat will arange for the pick up of the art work in your location once you have cleared the payment in your bank,they are in charge of moving our other house interior decor to our new home.I await your contact details to make out the payment to you asap.
And here is the inquiry I received. They forgot to put my name in the field for “name” on their scam template.
Thanks for the message, I must tell you I am very much interested in
the immediate purchase of the piece to surprise my wife. If you’d like
to know, I’m relocating soon and our anniversary is fast approaching.
So I’m trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise
one.she likes The Bolero Shield of original painting I am buying
yours as part of gifts to her Kindly email me the asking price asap.
I’m okay with the price, I think it’s worth it anyway, so I’ll be
sending a check.As regarding shipping, you don’t have to worry about
that in order not to leave any clue to my wife for the surprise. as
soon as you receive and cash the check, my shipping agent (who is also
moving my 1932 Ford ROADSTER and some personal effect) will contact
you to arrange pick-up.I would have handled this much differently but,
at the moment, am on training voyage to the Philippines with new hires
who are fresh from graduate school. I would have come to purchase the
piece myself but won’t be back for another couple of weeks.
PS: In the meantime, kindly forward your full name (you want the check
payable to), cell phone no. and contact Home address where a check can
be mailed to, so I can get the
check prepared and have it mailed out to you asap.
It has all the red flags, according to ARTSCAM:
A few tell-tale signs to look for in any email you receive from a prospective buyer: misspelled words, poor grammar, and an urgent overseas buyer (particularly one from Nigeria). They also typically want to make the shipping arrangements themselves or have someone pick the work up for them, rather than have you ship it to them. More often than not, you can do an internet search on the fraudulent person’s name or email address and find other people who have received similar emails from them.
Yes, indeed. A search of his email turned him up in a list of attempted email scams on artists.
The way this SCAM works, if someone actually takes the bait, is that they try to send you a payment for MORE than the actual cost, and then get you to send them back the difference via Western Union. They collect your payment, and theirs bounces.
You’d have to be really gullible to send them money.
So, artists, beware of the art scams, and don’t get your hopes up when someone is trying to rip you off. To find out more, the site I referenced before seems pretty good. Just click on their logo below to visit.