Is it a Scam?

How to recognize a Scam. 

It's always exciting when someone shows an interest in buying your art. But how do you know if it's a scam? We help you navigate the ever-more-compliated world of internet fraud.

Red Flags to Watch out For:


"My wife loves your work..."

We've gotten a lot of these emails lately. The wording is always slightly different, but the general message is the same.

"I actually observed my wife has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece of work. I'm also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too..."

"My name is John James from Brooklyn, New York. I was looking for some artwork online and i found your contact while searching. Will like to purchase some of your work for my wife as a surprise gift for our 20th anniversary.Please kindly send pics and prices of some of your art which are ready for immediate sale"

Some warning signs: the stilted language; the fact that they don't mention a specific work of art; the fact that they ask for images and prices, which are available on your site.

Outside shipper or Shipping Company

Of course it's perfectly possible that someone in a foreign country wants to buy your work. But if the customer insists on using a shipping company or picking the painting up themselves, be wary. This is a common scheme in which the "buyer" will give you extra money for shipping and ask you to pay them back.


 Moving to a new house/country

Often the scammer will say they are moving to a new house or country, and this is why they have their own shipping/moving company, and this is why they're hard to trace.



Bad Grammar/Spelling

Again, not definitive, but often a good indication that this is not a legitimate query. Check for inconsistencies in the spelling of proper names or places as well. This is especially helpful in detecting scams purporting to be from well-known companies such as Amazon or PayPal. You can bet they can afford a copyeditor!

 They Pay Too Much or Buy Too Much

A cashier's check is almost always a red flag in scams, especially if it's made out for far more than you asked. They'll ask you to pay them back to make up the difference. Never respond to these requests!


Another red flag is somebody lots of artwork in one order (typically buyers only buy one piece at a time)... or a single very valuable piece.


How do I respond if I think it's a scam? 

Do Your Research

Google the name of the potential buyer. Google their physical address--you can even check with Google Maps to makes sure it's an actual address and not in the middle of nowhere. Google the email address. Google the wording of the message itself.


Don't Give Any Personal Information 

Don't respond to requests for any personal information. Don't give out phone numbers, addresses, or bank information.


One common scam is to pretend to be a legitimate company such as Amazon or PayPal and require you to log into your account. If it's unexpected or seems fishy, don't log in!


Ask Questions

Ask questions to help determine if you're dealing with a real human being and a genuinely interested buyer. Don't feed them information though. (Don't tell them the names of specific works of art, etc.)


One good method is to ask for a personal phone number of the buyer. If it's a scam they won't want to talk to you.

Check Online Fraud Databases 

Artists look out for each other! You can review and add to the Stop Art Scams blog. And you can check a list of scammers names and email addresses here.


Check out the US Gov's guide to online safety.

 The Bottom Line: Trust your gut. If it feels dodgy to you at all, contact [email protected] and we'll help you check it out.

You'll find more information about scams in Resources and Help in your control panel.

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