Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Another art scam email

From time to time I get things like this (in this case from a "Pamela Gascoyne" via Gmail):

"Hope this message finds you well. I saw these creatives works on your web site and I will like you to get back with more details if they are still available for purchase.

Orpheus | Angel
2011, 16.5" x 14"
china marker & ink on paper

Faith Healer
2011, 23.5" x 18"
ink on paper

I will appreciate an urgent reply."

At first glance, this might look like a genuine inquiry about buying art. However, there are a couple of red flags that pop up straightaway. The odd grammar for a start, suggests that this is at least not a native English speaker (which in itself is not a problem, of course). I think the real giveaway here is the lack of detail or curiosity...a person actually interested in buying a piece of art would probably be a bit more forthcoming about why they liked the art & wanted to buy it. They would also probably ask for more details about the piece...I myself might be a bit cautious about buying a work of art based on a low-resolution photo on a web site...I might ask for more photos & details.

Luckily, the idiosyncratic grammar made it easy to discover that this was a scam...I merely pasted the words into Google (inside quotation marks so as to find an exact match) & a number of web sites popped up indicating that this was indeed a scam. Here is one:


How could someone wanting to buy some art be a scam? you might ask...well, the way it usually works is that the buyer wants to send you a check for more than the value of the art, as they have a "client in your country" to whom they owe a couple of thousand dollars. They send you a banker's check, you put it in your account. A couple of days later it seems that the money is there, so you cut a check for the "client" & send the money on. You also send the art to the buyer. A couple of weeks later, you find the check you received was a fake & that you are out a couple of thousand dollars & have also lost a piece of art (plus shipping & packing costs), which may be on the scammer's wall, or in a dumpster somewhere.

Luckily for potential artist victims, the scammers aren't very creative with their solicitations. When you're sending out hundreds or thousands of these, they are mainly cut-and-paste jobs, so Googling for the exact language will often find other examples from the same person (or even someone else copying them). If in doubt, do a Google search, for example for: " saw these creatives works on your web site and I will like you"...

Seller beware! I hope this helps someone avoid an unpleasant & costly situation.

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