All artists beware of this scam.
I am inspired by, and forwarding part of, a message from another newsletter. Robert and Sara Genn newsletter. I have added some extra observations of my own.
Something like this might pop into your inbox. Three examples here.
“Hello There, My name is George Barbara from California. I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work. I’m also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too, You are doing a great job. I would like to purchase one of your paintings “watermark, 60 x 60 inches, oil on canvas, 2014”, as a surprise to my wife on our anniversary. Also, let me know if you accept check as mode of Payment. Thanks and best regards George.”
“Hello to you out there. I am so excited that I came across of your work on internet search,I am interested in purchasing some creative artworks from you let me know their various prices.and how much discounts are you going to give? I will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home in South Africa. As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost.I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decoratives, We are travelling from our Dallas home to our new apartment as soon as possible.On Paying for the artworks,I will be glad to pay you with a Cashier check or Money order from the U.S Bank that can be easily cashed at your local bank,please let me know on how to proceed, Have a wonderful day. Take Care, Mr Steve Adams....”
“Good morning, I was searching through google images directory where i came across this sophisticated and attractive work of your's that made me keep starring for moments will love to purchase one or two piece from you and i will appreciate it if you can kindly let me know how and where i can see more of your new works and if possible can i purchase via email because i reside in Sweden. I will like to have your work as a beautification to my living room will await your response as soon as possible. Regards Vendrel”
So, do you think that George, Steve Adams, or Vendrel are real persons who want to buy your art?
Well I am sorry to say that they are not.
These are fake buyers who are working an old scam.
Here’s how the scam works: George, Steve or Vendrel sends you a bogus cheque by courier for far more than the value of the artwork. He, by way of a complicated explanation, needs you to pay an independent shipper with the extra amount. Often, he’s indisposed in the North Atlantic while in the midst of a transcontinental relocation. In two weeks, when the cheque bounces, your painting’s gone. You’re also on the hook at the bank. What George plans to do with his new, bulky art collection remains a mystery.
While this cheque fraud scam has been around for years, artists are increasingly popular targets. Maybe it has to do with our unique vulnerability to positive feedback. As solo travellers, a message of obvious good taste and decisiveness can feel like a windfall, especially in periods of sporadic sales or patchy praise. With it rushes a flood of validation and a feeling of connectedness and independence.
Here is a message from another artist with their experience. [I found this by searching for recent fraud alerts for artists.]
“I received an email from someone who was interested in surprising his wife with one of my paintings. He said that he was a biologist who was out at sea doing research. He also said that he saw that his wife, in California, loved my work and that their anniversary was soon approaching. I sent him some images and prices of my work and he selected a $4,800 painting.
A week later, I received a check for $10,000 and later that day, he sent me an email asking me to “please pay the shipper when he arrives to pick up the painting.” He then sent an email asking me to send the balance of the check to California, to the main office of the moving company. My bank had a 12-day hold on the check! He became upset when he learned of the hold and said he would call his bank to get it cleared sooner.
A few days later he emailed me and said that the check had been cleared and to go to a specific bank to send the check to the shipper. I waited and then went to my own bank and asked if the check was clear and learned that it would be less expensive if I go to the bank that he recommended. I asked the bank representative to investigate if the check that he sent was in my account. When she opened her computer, she found that the $10,000 check had a stop-payment put on it ten minutes ago. If I didn’t stop at my bank and instead simply went to his, the funds would have come out of my own savings since his money was no longer there.
My advise to all artists is be careful when you deal with email or telephone customers. I called the FBI about this and they instructed me to go to their website and file a report. I was a little surprised at this too because I would file this report and never know if there was something done. Be aware!”
So in the most flagrant cases George, Steve or Vendrel wants you to pay for the shipping and send the balance to a different account. You are thinking that his cheque is safely in your bank account. But it can be cancelled many days after you have sent the painting, paid the carriage costs to an anonymous untraceable picker-up , and sent a sizeable balance to the scammer.
These crooks want your money not your art. Beware!