Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Art Scam Alert

Cardsharps by Carravaggio

So this morning I got this message in my inbox:


My name is john Scotfield from SC.  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. I am very much interested in the purchase of the piece (in subject field above) to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate sales.

Thanks and best regards,


The first clue was the grammar and irregular capitalization. "I actually observed my wife has been viewing..."  Huh??  But then again, maybe they were in a hurry or else had trouble typing on their smart phones.  It happens.

The more telling clue was the gushing compliments followed by the promise of "immediate sales".  Hmmm.

So I cut and pasted the first line of Mr. Scotfield's message into Google.  Bingo.  Another art scammer. 

I'm not sure if it's because artists are perceived as more naive than the general population, but we tend to get a lot of emails like this.  It's part and parcel for having one's name out there, I suppose.

I also get emails claiming to be from New York galleries, decorated war veterans, and wealthy widowers who are all admirers of my work.  Yet before I respond to any of them, I always look them up.  Not merely their name or email address (because those change so frequently) but snippets of the actual message.  And then I usually find it plastered all over the internet, alongside stories of artists who lost money, or a painting, or both. 

It goes like this: The scammer says they want a painting, and are willing to send you a check, money order or credit card number.  Then there's suddenly a time constraint and so you are pressured into sending the painting before the payment clears. Or else they offer to arrange for the shipping themselves, then accidentally overpay.  When you send them the difference, they disappear.

Some say that scammers like this will purposefully make obvious mistakes in their messages order to hone in on the most gullible (and therefore most lucrative) marks. But all the same, I'm putting out this post in case there's someone reading this who has yet to encounter such a thing.

We artists want to believe that what we do is worthwhile and of value, and we also have bills to pay. Scammers take full advantage of this.  If you get an email that seems too good to be usually is.

That being said: don't automatically dismiss a badly written message from an unknown address. I've had a couple of these that turned out to be actual clients!

Just be careful, and remember that Google is your friend.

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