I have to admit I was curious (oh, yes somewhat excited and apprehensive) when I received an email from a lady looking to purchase two of my paintings. My spider senses were tingling right out of the gate – but I decided (naively - click on spider senses link) to respond to the inquiry – just in case it was legitimate. I mean they were inquiring to purchase not one but two of my paintings by name Drama Queen and Shades of Maple! She referenced my web site and then she proceeded to ask if they are still available– both are clearly indicated on my web site. What got my spider senses tingling even more though was that the inquiry came directly to my email. Normally any place I have my art work come in on a contact form –as in a client from FASO, Facebook, linked- in, etc. This was straight to my gmail address.
Third email was the clincher – she asked about my inspiration! Getting personal, establishing rapport.....
On the advice of my IT husband -I googled the person’s name. The name that appeared was a similar name only with two letters transversed… hmmmmm. Apparently in this whole world this is a unique spelling. So, I know people who get creative with their names in order create email addresses but? Spider senses once again….Oh, by the way, her first name was the same as mine – we have something in common right away!
She responded to my email as follows:
Hi Helen ,
Good to hear back from you. Yes,i will like to proceed with the purchase of both works. I think they are lovely works and i hope to give them good home.
I am presently on my way to Bermuda for my Sister's wedding even though it comes at a time when i am preparing for a big move to Montreal but it means so much to her and i should be back in few days.
Meanwhile, i will like you to forward your mailing address and phone number so i can inform my husband on where to forward the payment . He can have one of his PA handle the payment asap. I can also forward your contact info to the local cartage company that will be moving all our house decors so they can get in touch with you to arrange shipping details. They can arrange FedEx or UPS pick up of the artworks from your studio.
I will look forward to hearing from you so i can know how best to proceed. Cheers.
Best Regards, Helen.
So now I am totally convinced this is a scam. What did I do? I Googled “scams directed at artists” and holy hannah this is a classic art scam. (perfectly described by Kathleen McMahon). Either of these links will provide you with good information.
When I think back I apparently have been a researched target for the past two weeks as follows:
- I received a couple of blank emails with no content. I think they were testing my email address to see if it was a valid email
- Also I was copied on an email from a person I knew – sent what looked like an encrypted message. I hit reply to ask huh???? I think she was hacked and now I am scammed.
What you can do to protect yourself?
Never ever give your address, phone number, PayPal account information - anything personal, until you feel confident you are dealing with a legitimate request, no matter how convincing at first.
Unfortunately, they catch enough people giving up their money and/or information. Your information, including email address, can be sold. Scammers just keep sending these out by the millions. They are continuously working to improve their techniques to catch you.
They definitely getting more strategic, naming particular pieces of artwork on their request to artists so they have gone to your blog (if your artwork is posted there), your website, or even a community forum where your artwork might be posted.
My stats were crazy high during this period as well.
Stay safe - and keep your money!