The other day I received an email from a supposedly private collector who wanted to buy one of my glass sculptures. The email looked a bit suspicious and after doing some research I found out it was a scam technique being used in the art world.
I’ve read some unsettling stories about artists who have been victims of art scams. Here’s a compilation of warning signs to avoid art scams and spot them quickly:
1. Suspicious email address
Often art scammers use a vague, unofficial email address, for instance Gmail or Hotmail and it tends to include numbers in it. An example of a real art scam email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Untraceable sender
The name of the sender may sound real, but a quick Google search will prove the person doesn’t exist and he is an online ghost. A quick way to spot this is to Google the name of the sender (e.g., Potter Taylor) and add the word ‘scam’ to your search. If the sender is a scam it will most likely show up on the first page of your Google results.
3. Emotional story
The potential client will come up with a story that taps into your emotions. For instance, a typical example of a scam in the art world is a husband who contacts you and wants to buy one of your pieces as a wedding anniversary gift for his wife.
4. The classic check request
Yep. Art scammers also use this trick. They will offer to pay for the artwork by cashier’s check, which is always fake.
5. Own shipping
The supposed collector will offer to use his own shipping agent to arrange pick up. This is always a fake company which is part of the scam.