In the excitement and in an effort to make a sale of their art, many artists may not use good judgment during the transaction.
If sound business practices are ignored, this transaction may ultimately cause the artist to lose money, their art or in some cases, both.
Here are a few tips and reminders in order to help artists avoid art scams and art fraud when dealing with the public on a potential sale of their work.
1. Deal with people in your local area
The best way to avoid art scammers is to deal with buyers on a local level, people that you can meet in person. Art scammers will often contact you from another region or country far away. They will usually want you to ship the art that you are selling to them.
2. Never wire funds to anyone that you do not know
If you're asked to wire funds back to the buyer of your art, you are most likely dealing with an art scammer. Beware!
The buyer of your art will offer to send you more money than what is required to complete the transaction. They will then ask you to wire the difference back to them. While their check to you is being cleared by the bank, you will be asked to send the overage amount back to them by wire transfer. Their check will bounce but by then it is too late for you, as the wire is not traceable. You will be required to make up any differences and fees, besides losing your money. (See Example #3 Below)
3. Beware of fake cashier's checks and money orders
Scammers will often send a fake cashier's check valued above your asking price. They will then ask you to wire the overpayment back to them. Your bank may cash this check, but when it's discovered that the check is fraudulent, you will be held responsible.
4. Do not provide anyone with your private information
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. Do not give anyone your bank account information, credit card numbers, passwords, social security numbers, or other personal information. If you share this type of information with scammers, they will use it to set up new accounts and commit fraud with your identity.
5. Be cautious when accepting any relay calls
Relay calls are a legitimate service for people with hearing and speech disabilities. However, scammers may also use this service to contact you. (Another reason to deal locally with people you can meet in person.) The call may come from someone who identifies themselves as being from one of the large telephone companies. This relay call will make the transaction seem legitimate because the service is for the hearing impaired. Again, there will be an overcharge amount, with the overage wired back to the “art buyer”. Do not do this, ever!
Also, avoid shipping and escrow services that you do not know or use. Art scammers commonly employ fake or online escrow services to handle the transaction. Many times an art scammer will offer to use “their” shipping company as “they are cheaper than the other shippers”. These are either fake shippers or people who may also be in on the scam.
Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Do not abandon good judgment and common sense when trying sell and deliver your work to an art buyer.
Our article 10 Signs You Are Dealing with an Art Scammer provides more ideas on how you can protect yourself during a sale.