Art Scams: What do we look like?
We are artists. We are by and large optimistic in nature. But do we really appear to be fools? Apparently, the scam-mers of the world, with their poor grammatical skills and obvious tactics seem to think that we are. In the past several weeks, I've made greater efforts to locate and select online art sales venues to broaden my reach as an artist. My efforts to bring my art to the attention of a wider audience of art lovers and collectors has also caught the attention of much less than scrupulous individuals. Within the past month, in addition to others, I received wonderful compliments on my artwork from one of the world's wealthiest businessmen with an invitation to contact him directly via his personal email address (his full name with a several digits after it) to answer the questions he had about my art. He indicated that he wanted to buy not just one but all three of the art pieces that I recently listed with _rtF_r_. I think I was supposed to become so excited that I would immediately email him back from my own personal email address to make offline arrangements. After all, being one of the wealthiest men in the world, he obviously would be sending out such an inquiry himself and...he would not have taken the time to read my listing which answered each of the questions he had sent. Oh, and, of course, this was too important for him to delegate to one of his many personal assistants and/or all those other people who work for him. Hey! Wait a minute...something IS rotten in the state of Denmark! By the way, people of Denmark, don't take offense...Shakespeare started it! Back to the scam, if using the name of one of the world's wealthiest businessmen was not a clear give away, the poorly put together message and insistence on working outside of the site where my art is clearly listed for sale were!
I understand how "your" scam works and I hope all my artist friends also know the scam. You offer to do business directly. You agree to my pricing as is or you tell me "Oh, you're selling yourself short. Your art is worth $$$, so how about I pay you $$$." I'm flattered so I agree. You intentionally or "unintentionally" send me a "cashier's check" or some other financial tool for more than the agreed upon price. But you say, "Don't worry, just deposit it, and you can refund me the difference." So I am supposed to send you the difference in money from my bank that is "good" along with the art you've paid for, only to find out later that your "check" was not good? Not going to happen!!
I have my work listed with sites that offer a "store front" so that purchases can be made safely. Any offer to do business outside of the site in which a buyer found me and my art work is not acceptable. I do sell directly here in the local market, at various art fairs and festivals, and to people I know or who were referred to me. If you found my work through Etsy, please go ahead and buy through Etsy or any other site I've chosen to list my work. I chose them carefully and I want to be able to do business with you through them and for you to conduct business with me through them, safely and confidently.
These scam artists must take their name to heart given their determined efforts to take artists for a ride. We artists are a hopeful bunch. We do hope that someone, many someones as a matter of fact, really likes our work and we hope they will want to buy it. That's probably why these con tactics manage to catch a few of us sleeping often enough that they continue to make the rounds. I'm sharing this to hopefully remind all of us to stay vigilant. Whenever I receive a message from anyone unfamiliar to me, the first I do is pull up Google. I like to know with whom I am to do business. So far, 10 out 10 times, I've found the person or his or her connection to me through someone I know OR I've found the person's name with big letters after it reading SCAM!
P.S. For more detailed descriptions of various scams and a list of scam names, take a look at this blog post by another artist: http://www.kathleenmcmahon.com/info/scammer-names.html
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vivian leflore mora, artist/writer, and business consultant.
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