Don’t be the victim of an art scam!

Artists are easy and frequent targets of scammers

Momma always said “If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t”

Art scam 101 – When someone contacts you out of the blue and wants to purchase your artwork it’s often exciting.  Someone found me, looked at my work and wants to buy it!  Unfortunately a lot of these contacts are from scammers trying to rip off your art and your money.

Artist get targeted by scammers all the time.  I suppose we are an easy mark for a few reasons.

  • Artists tend be optimists and see the good in people
  • Artists tend to be naive to the world of crooks and scammers
  • Artists are used to shipping their product around the world
  • Artists have an emotional attachment to their art and want others to love it as much as they do.
  • Artists typically need the money, to pay the studio rent, pay for supplies and eat.
Red Neck Moving Day

What does a typical art scam look like?

There are a few well-worn art scams that have been around forever and are still being used by art scammers.

Usually there is some kind of story involved.  The person loves your work, they are moving to a new house and want to buy several pieces to decorate it.  Basically they are setting up with the prospect of a very large sale but it has lots of conditions and has to be completed quickly (before you realize it’s a scam!).

Hello Artist.
I am interested in purchasing some creative artworks from you let me know their various prices and i will be happy to have these selected artworks hanged in our new home. As well, I want you to take out the shipping cost.I have been in touch with a shipping firm that will be shipping other house decorative, We are traveling from our home to our new apartment as soon as possible,Please let me know on how to proceed and kindly reply to my personal e-mail at

Have a wonderful day.

Best regards,
Mr Mike.

Common tip offs that it’s a art scam include:

  • Foreign sounding names
  • Strange looking email accounts
  • Names that don’t match the email account or names that change between emails
  • They want to use their own shipping company
  • The quickness they want everything (willing to pay for super expensive fast shipping).
  • The lack of interest in the details like the size of the paintings or even the price.
  • When you send them to your easy to use online store or ask them a few questions they disappear.

How does the art scam work?

Usually the scammer could care less about your artwork. Artwork is not an easily resold commodity like a flat screen tv or camera.  The scammer is trying to make money ripping you off from the transaction and shipping fees.

…..He (the scammer) said that because he was moving he was in a state of flux and would it be okay if me mailed me the money in advance, with enough to pay the shipper at the door……

They will be using a stolen credit cards or a fake check to rip you off.  Any money that you give them will be their take.  For example they might send you a check for the artwork and OVERPAY for the shipping.  Then say “oops” can you send me the difference?

  • Following your usual method of payment.  Don’t accept some new way of paying.
  • Never accept overpayments.
  • Search the person’s name and email address to see if they come up.  Everyone these days has some sort of electronic trace that you should be able to find.
  • Most important: Wait until payments have cleared before shipping.  This might take a five days or a week.  The scammer is counting on speed.  A legitimate buyer can wait.  Art is rarely a last-minute purchase or a life or death purchase.

“…..Saw images of your paintings online, which really caught my attention. I am interested in purchasing paintings from your collection, can you please get back to me with the price range, sizes of your paintings, so i know how to go about my purchase.

Await your prompt reply……”  – said the scammer!

Art Scam Resources