Perhaps other artists out there have been contacted by scammers but it's happened to me so many times in the past few months that I wanted to share my experiences in case others come across these nefarious individuals. Each time I receive an email through my website from an apparent potential client looking to buy a piece of art. They are always uncertain about what they want and they seem to have no budget. There are usually a few misspellings and an odd use of language. Just a few days ago I was contacted by a "Rob Carter" firstname.lastname@example.org who said that he lived in Colorado and wanted to purchase a piece for his wife. The first email is always seemingly normal, but the following emails always inject a request to pay via check and ship the piece via an unusual method. The follow-up emails always grow increasingly unbelievable, often snowballing into stories about family tragedies and short-notice travel. Although I never got to this point, the scammer will eventually mail the artist a fake check for a large amount over the purchase price then ask you to cash the check (which will not go through) and wire them the extra money. It sounds insane that anyone would fall for this, but unfortunately some people do. I'm blogging about this so that other artists out there will be able to search by his email address and learn that this is a scam. Unfortunately there are so many of these scammers out there that it is impossible to track, especially when so many use different email accounts. It's unfortunate that this is the world that we live in, but as artists we need to be weary and always wait until checks have cleared before shipping any artwork. Have any fellow artists been contacted by scammers? What was your experience? Please do share.
Below are our correspondences:
Name Rob Carter
Subject Artwork Is Needed
Hello, I am Rob Carter from Colorado.. I was looking for some artwork online and I found your contact while surfing and I must tell you, You are doing a great job, I would really love to purchase some of your works for my wife as a surprise present regarding our forthcoming 20th anniversary, I would like to receive further information about your piece of work and what inspires you..Also, kindly email me back with some images and price list of your artworks that is ready for immediate sales within my price range ($2,000- $13,000).. Hope to hear from you soon.. Thanks and best regards..
Dear Ann, Thanks for the message, I must tell you I intend to give my wife a surprise with the immediate purchase of the piece. Also If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to the Philippines soon and our wedding anniversary is fast approaching. So I'm trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise one..I'm okay with the paintings (Blacksmith Farm $2,000 AND April Blooms $1,800 Total $3,800).. 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 personal effect) will contact you to arrange pick-up. I would have come to purchase the piece myself but, at the moment, am on training voyage to the North Atlantic Ocean (I'm an ocean engineer) with new hires who are fresh from graduate school and won't be back for another couple of weeks. Regards, PS: In the meantime, kindly get back to me with your full name (you want the check payable to) cell phone no. and contact address (preferably for USPS not P.O box) where a check can be mailed to so I can get the check prepared and have it mailed out to you as soon as possible. Thank you!
Here is a great resource about how to recognize art scams by the Agora Gallery.