I have needed to write this post for some time but have always hesitated because I don’t like dealing in the negative. However, I have decided that it’s just too important a subject so here goes.
This is about what is commonly referred to as a “Nigerian Scam” (click to read the wikipedia article on the subject). You know like those scams where someone tells you they need your help getting a large sum of money that they are due and they’ll cut you in - IF you send them money to get past the legal fees. For some reason, artists seem to be a particular target.
In one type of scam they pose as a buyer but they are actually trying to get YOU the seller to send THEM money.
Here is how one type of these scams goes: Some one contacts you regarding purchasing artwork. You’ll email back and forth with them and finally come to an agreement on the sale of a piece of artwork. They’ll send a cashiers check and when it arrives it is for too much money. They’ll ask you to refund the difference or to give the overage to their shipper. Then low and behold, the cashiers check is a fake and you are out the money you’ve refunded them. Nice huh?
Now of course we don’t want to assume everyone who approaches us looking to buy a piece of artwork is a scammer, but we do need to be aware that these people are out there.
There are some typical signs that are often indicators of these types of scams:
- Their english doesn’t seem very good or the wording may be a bit off. Now some people are just not very good at writing, so don’t discount someone soley on this basis.
- They’ll be really vague in the wording, making you question if they’ve ever even seen your artwork.
- They’ll be specific and name particular artworks, but then they’ll ask for the price on work that is clearly priced on your website.
- They are often located in another country.
- They’ll try to pressure you for time – often stating something like they’re in the process of moving to another country.
- They’ll ask you to work with their agent or their shipper.
Basically, something in their emails will just seem off. If something in your gut is telling you to watch out, please listen to your instincts.
Never ever refund someone money for an overage or pay any third parties- ask for a new check for the correct amount and make sure that it actually clears your bank before sending any artwork. Or, have them pay you through a service like PayPal- and make sure it clears there as well.
Everybody be careful out there and protect yourself.