7 Signs You are Dealing with an Art Scammer

While art scammers are around all year long, the holidays are the time when they come out in droves.  The internet is an easy way for art scammers to operate. Therefore, artists need to be aware of and able to identify these unscrupulous individuals.

Since artists began marketing and selling their artwork on the internet, they have, unfortunately, become a target of worldwide scammers.

In 2019, it was brought to the Gallery’s attention that artists were being contacted and solicited to purchase an attendee list for something called “Light Space & Time Online Art Gallery 2019 Attendees List”. This was is not a legitimate email or event, nor was LST affiliated with any of the emails in any way.

After several of our artists brought this scam to our attention, we posted a notice on the website, in our newsletter and on our social media to alert our artists to this scam.  However, artists must be able to identify scammers on their own.

So in this post we are highlighting 7 signs that you are dealing with an art scammer.

The most common art scam is for a scammer to make contact with an artist and say that they want to buy some of their artwork that they saw online.  To the unwary, hungry artist this is surely great news. 

What the scammer wants is for the artist to ship the art without paying for it. In reality, they will be providing the artist with stolen credit card numbers or with phony checks in order to make the art purchase.

This scam works for the scammer because the transaction will take time due to the distance involved for both parties.  To the unwary artist, the credit card transaction will go through, the art is shipped, only for the artist to find out later that credit card number was stolen or that the check was no good.  As a consequence of all this, the artist is out of their art and the costs involved in creating it, plus the cost of the shipping. 

Below are the top 7 signs an artist is dealing with an art scammer:

  1. The email solicitation is poorly written, with words misspelled and/or poor grammar. Oftentimes even the email address is a misspelled word like “eventes” as opposed to “events” or the scammer signs one email with one name and a reply to you with a different name.
  2. Scammers will have elaborate stories as to why they want to buy the art, usually an “anniversary” or “special occasion”. This is so the artist will ship the art quickly before it is discovered that the funds are no good or that the credit card was stolen.
  3. Scammers will provide vague compliments about your art but usually can’t remember all of the details of the piece they are inquiring about. Or they easily get the artwork mixed up with others and/or ask the artist to send images of available artworks within a certain price point.  Remember, scammers are doing this scam with hundreds of artists, and that is why they are getting the art mixed up.
  4. Scammers usually live outside of the USA or are planning a “relocation move” and must receive the art quickly.
  5. Scammers will often offer to “over pay” for the item as an inducement to do business with them.
  6. Scammers will often want to pay by “personal” check and will refuse to use other legitimate and reputable methods of payment like PayPal.  Of course, paying by check is a legitimate payment method for vetted buyers, but caution is advised for unknown internet buyers who refuse to consider any other kind of payment.
  7. Scammers will often say that they will have “their shipper” contact the artist or will suggest that they have a friend or relative pick up the art directly from the artist.  They will often offer to reimburse the artist for shipping and that they will include that cost in their payment. This is a way to quicken the transaction, which is exactly what the scammer wants.

Art scammers have one objective and that is to separate artists from their art or from their money, or both.  When approached by a stranger on the internet, always be aware of and skeptical of phony emails and solicitations. 

All artists should attempt to get to know their buyers and be comfortable with the people they are dealing with when selling their art on the internet. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Artists should not abandon good judgment and common sense when trying to sell and deliver their art to an art buyer.

Our previous article, 5 Tips on How to Avoid Art Scams & Art Fraud also provides good advice for how artists can identify and protect themselves from art scammers, especially during this holiday season. 


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