Once upon a time in Nigeria, a “long lost prince” was bored at his computer, and he thought to himself: “I’ve tried to scam business owners, I’ve tried to scam mothers and people on Craigslist desperate for jobs. Who else would make for a good victim to my precious scam?” And yes, we imagine these scammers looking something like Gollum…
A bulb lit up in his head: “Emerging artists hoping to sell their work!” And god knows there are plenty of them in Bushwick.
Several of you have recently reported fishy emails you’ve been receiving from “potential art collectors,” and while we hope that all of you Bushwick artists are vigilant enough to recognize an Internet scam within seconds, we’re sharing some information and advice on what to do, just in case.
The first contact may seem innocent, but bad grammar and overseas requests are usually a red flag.
My name is Max Gardner. I found your profile on the internet. I am interested in purchasing an artwork from you for the decoration of my guest room at my new residence in Munich, Germany. Would appreciate if you can send me few pictures of the works you have available for sale so that I can make an easy choice of mine. Better still, send me a web link where I can have a view of your recent works.
I look forward to read back from you.
Some emails are pretty phishy right from the start.
I am Mrs Kimberly Miles and I am interested in your art i will schedule a pick up because the art will be needed in my new branch in the state and i will be happy to make payment with paycheck , So please kindly get back with your discount rates prices .
Mrs Kimberly Miles
Be worried if your “collector” needs the piece urgently for any reason, i.e. he is relocating.
Thanks for the message, I must tell you I am very much interested in the immediate purchase of the piece to surprise my wife. If you’d like to know, I’m relocating to the Philippines soon and our anniversary is fast approaching. So I’m trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise one. I am buying yours as part of gifts to her (quickly before someone else grabs it). I’m okay with the price, I think it’s worth it anyway, so I’ll be sending a check.
As regarding shipping, you don’t have to worry about that in order not to leave any clue to my wife for the surprise. as soon as you receive and cash the check, my shipping agent (who is also moving my personal effect) will contact you to arrange pick-up.
I would have handled this much differently but, at the moment, am on training voyage (on the North Atlantic Ocean) to Russia with new hires who are fresh from graduate school. I would have come to purchase the piece myself but won’t be back for another couple of weeks.
PS: In the meantime, kindly forward your full name (you want the check payable to) cell phone no. and contact address (preferably for fedEx not P.O box) where a check can be mailed to, so I can get the check prepared and have it mailed out to you asap.
What usually follows next? You receive a check in mail for a much higher amount than the price you agreed on. Your collector will ask you to cash the check and wire them the overpayment. “Be aware that even though your bank may give you cash for the checks and postal money orders, they can still be counterfeit. Cashier’s checks and postal money orders can take up to a month to fully clear. If the payment turns out to be fraudulent, you could be held responsible for the entire amount withdrawn from your bank,” writes the site Artscams.com. Ouch.
Another option is that the scammers will try get you to provide personal information (IDs, passwords, SSN, account numbers or PayPal information). These people want to steal your money are considered extremely dangerous, and it’s really not advised to deal with them at all.
So what to do? Site ArtScam.com recommends:
1. Be skeptical and vigilant! Beware of poor grammar and urgent overseas requests.
2. Do not reply to fishy emails, do not forward them or click on any links. Simply delete them without opening or forward them to [email protected]
3. If you’re uncertain about the nature of the email, or if you suspect you’ve fallen a victim to phishing, contact State Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Affairs or Federal Trade Commission.
4. Perform due diligence on gallery or business they claim to represent. Make a phone call, google search etc.
5. Do not cash a check, especially not if it’s for amount higher than agreed price.
6. Do not ship your work without making sure that the payment cleared.
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