Have you ever seen a Nigerian scam?
Yes, this is one of the most infamous and regularly emailed scams around the world. It is truly classic and hats off to these guys raking in people. Basically, they send the victim an email saying a close relative has died and left them money, but they cannot access it. In order for them to get it, they need a third party and ask for your bank account. That is the initial hook, then they start worming out money from that account.
Have you had other types of specific art scams?
The one I have run into a few times is that they email you and say, “I will pay for all the shipping”. That clues you right off the bat, as they have no idea where you live. Then they ask you to take a check and need your mailing address. Right then I just request them to take Paypal only, since that leaves me anonymous to the scammers. I’m not sure how the rest of the scam goes, because they can only do it via check and I always stop them right there. The other clue that you KNOW they are a scammer is they start to distrust you immediately, which is a HUGE red flag for me. They will say things like “can I trust you with the check?”
Have you seen other types of scams?
There’s another strange one that works on your interest in the opposite sex. They send a message saying they want to meet or something like that. Then who knows what? I always find that a bit obvious, so I just delete those without a thought. You can tell that is a scam as well, since they don’t even bother to put a picture with their profile, which means they just set it up. Why would you meet someone without even a picture is hilarious way to start!
Have you seen scams from other countries besides Nigeria?
No country can have the monopoly. The Chinese ones are hilarious as well. They misspell all the words on purpose! I guess you will think they are an idiot and will pity them. To me I just think they are truly an idiot for trying that obvious a scam. One scam misspelled “drawing” as “drawrings”. Too funny! How can you say you sell art drawrings? I crack up just reading this stuff. That one I found on LinkedIn.
Is there a simple way to protect oneself as an artist?
Besides trying to sell your work yourself, you can have your work sold via third party like a gallery or artist representative. They will protect you from the obvious email and website scams directly. The only trade-off is that you could hire a dishonest gallery or representative to sell your work. Then your art may sell and you don’t receive payment or you aren’t paid in full. Be aware though that these types of galleries don’t stay in business long as word of mouth spreads among artists, so a long term business operation is a good sign they are fair to their artists. A good way to find out is to ask some artists already represented by the gallery or agent to see if they are on the up and up.
In the end, you as a small business owner need to be aware of scams from any party and ask your artist friends of possible scams before entering them. Your friends and trusted galleries can act as a shield for you.