It is always exciting to be contacted by a new potential client and directing them to your website to browse and hopefully choose some artwork to buy. Even more thrilling when they contact you to say they wish to buy some of your artwork for a special occasion, can they send you a cheque.
To the naïve and trusting person like myself, when the cheque arrives for more than the artwork chosen which has already been taken off sale as a good will gesture, the thought is they wish to buy more works of art -yippee
What the scammer wants is for you send them the balance which was apparently a mistake by their finance manager in my case, and collect the artwork from you before the cheque has cleared. It is possible to draw from a cheque before it has cleared!!! So beware. They are very persistent, emails, phone calls and texts to try and get you to send that overpayment to a bank account at a bank you have never heard of. The cheque is then either stopped or was not genuine in the first place and was never going to clear.
I become suspicious and contacted my bank who explained to me how it works. A text to the scammer informing him that the bank had instructed me to take no action until the following week when the cheque would be fully cleared stopped all correspondence in an instance.
Two days later I discover that I had been denied access to my bank account. As it was a Saturday they were unable to give me an explanation and asked me to wait until Monday. It was sorted quickly once I had spoken to the fraud department, my long history with them indicated that I was not involved in the scam.
A valuable business lesson learned!
The good news is that from about October 2018 cheques are going to be cleared The next working day which will help to stop this type of scam.
Of course there are other ways to scam people out of their money and works of art such as stolen credit cards. It is always best to insist on PayPal or other secure payment methods and make sure all transactions are verified and completed before dispatching any artwork. Any legitimate buyer or collector of art will not have a problem dealing in this manner. Anyone who objects to this way of doing business with you is someone who you do not want to do business with!
Here are the top 10 ways for sellers of art to help to identify if they are dealing with an art scammer:
1. The scammer usually lives outside of the country of sale.
2. The scammer will have a story as to why they want to buy the art.
3. The scammer cannot remember all of the details of the piece of art or they easily get the artwork mixed up with others. Remember, that they are doing this scam with hundreds of artists, and that is why they are getting the art mixed up.
4. The email solicitation is usually poorly written, with words misspelled or with poor grammar.
5. The scammer will even offer to “over pay” for the item as an inducement to do business with them.
6. The scammer will mention that they will pay by “cashiers” check.
7. The scammer will say that they will have “their shipper” contact the artist.
8. The scammer will suggest that they have a friend, relative or shipper pick up the art directly from the artist. This quickens the transaction.
9. The scammer will offer to reimburse the artist for shipping and that they will include that cost in their payment.
10. The scammer will say that they need the art “quickly” for some special occasion. This is so the artist will ship the art quickly before that it is discovered that the funds are no good or that the credit card was stolen.
While English may not be the first language of every client you interact with, the correspondence will be distinctively different. Poor spelling, obvious grammatical errors, and strange spacing are all signs of an email scam.
Remember art scammers have one objective and that is to separate the art seller from their artwork or from their money, or both. When approached by a stranger on the Internet, always be aware of and skeptical of phoney emails and solicitations. The old adage that says “when it sounds too good to be true…” still stands true today. All art sellers should be aware of and comfortable with whom they are dealing with when they are selling their art on the Internet.