Email scams at artists - OutdoorPainter.com
Don't be a victim to this email scam that's aimed at working artists.

One of my favorite parts of being a professional creative/maker is that initial point of contact for a new artistic project. I get texts and calls from my close contacts, social media messages from the next larger circle, and emails from those I’ve not yet worked with. These layers give me an instant’s notice on how much I can rely on whether or not a project will play out.

Recently, I received an email that may look familiar to you. The story isn’t new by any means, although artists are still being targeted, and that’s why I want to share it here.

Note: If you’re already in the know about this practice, please do your friends a favor by sharing this on social media in case they’re not aware yet. You could save them a little embarrassment, and a lot of money.

Here is the scam email we received. I’ve numbered what I took as hints that it was a scam:

***
Hello There,(1)

My name is [removed] from Washington DC. I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my wife’s anniversary which is just around the corner. I stormed on some of your works which i (2) found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit your (3) doing quite an impressive job. You are undoubtedly good at what you do. (4)

With that being said, I would like to purchase some of your works as a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works (5), with their respective prices and sizes, which are ready for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $500 to $5000.

I look forward to reading from you in a view to knowing more about your pieces of inventory. As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept check as a means of payment.

Regards,
[name]
***

5 Ways to Recognize an Email Scam Aimed at Artists:

1. He never mentions my name or anything specific about my work; it’s an easy copy/paste for him to send this to mass recipients.
2. A lowercase “i”? Come on. Also, he “stormed” on my works? Note the odd use of language throughout.
3. Glaring misuse of “your” versus “you’re”
4. Excessive flattery
5. Why would I need to send him pictures/examples if he’s already so enthralled with my work?

I’ve seen where scammers will actually bring up the concept of exchanging funds in their initial contact. Sometimes scammers will want to send you a check in advance, and sometimes they have the nerve to ask you for money in some odd, roundabout scheme. We have to stay vigilant and continue to alert each other to scams like this, as they’ll only continue to try to become more believable.

Have you ever received an email scam? Share your experience with us in the comments below.


 

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32 COMMENTS

  1. Every so often I get these emails as well. Each time the scammer has done enough research to actually mention one or two particular paintings. Some of the common features in the ones I get are: they are want my address but don’t give theirs. This is usually because they claim to be in the middle of a move from one State to another; they want to pay by cashiers check. Sometimes they say the cashiers check will be made out by their boss; they want their shipper to come to my house to collect the paintings.
    Replying to them by insisting that their cashiers check be fully cleared through my bank before I mail any paintings is enough that I never hear from them again.

  2. This exact scam happened to me about 7 years ago. I was so lucky that when I
    took the cashier’s check to the bank, the bank recognized it as a total scam.
    If they hadn’t, I would have been out the painting and a lot of money.

  3. They continue to arrive, but they are cleaning up their approach. I actually think they are having someone checking their word & sentence structure.

    I Have gotten so many , that at times I play with them. Pretending that I am all for this and will meet them to hand them the painting.. as they hand me their check. They never get that far of course. If they say they live in whatever town , I tell them that I have several friends there and ask if they know them or if they live near my friends. Guess they must not like my friends … they never reply. LOL.
    I have one going right now : a family in Wisconsin ??? and an actual address. So I checked the address in the town they gave ( actual address exists) … it came up on a real estate site. This house had just sold for $32,000.
    Now I don’t want to belittle any of us “starving artist” … maybe your house or studio is in that bracket …. but a house around here ,that sells for that kind of $$ probably has wheels attached..??

  4. The same thing happened to me last year. Being hopeful (as many artists usually are – that someone would want to purchase artwork), I responded very sincerely and had a “dialog” for several days with the scammer. It was the usual, “he and his wife are moving from one part of the states to clear across the country and had to pay ‘movers’ “. There started being more and more characters involved along the way, (husband, wife, friends, movers, friends of movers, etc…) Long story short – he sent “the check” which was as scammy as scammy gets. Then I dropped the bomb and replied that I had already had him and his scam investigated by the bank and attorney general. …. He never bothered me again. Then I shared the entire story on my fb page. … Let’s always help each other stay smart enough to outsmart them all.

  5. I have also had numerous scam e-mails. Another thing you need to be aware of is that checks from foreign countries can take several months to fully clear, and payment can even be denied months after you thought it had been cleared by the bank. One red flag was that a scammer had just moved from one foreign country and was about to move to another. That along with a message that his shipper would personally pick up the painting quickly ended that conversation.

  6. My husband is an artist and got this exact same email today! Sadly, he received it a few years ago, too. “send me images”???? Um, they’re on the website. Yeah. No.

  7. Hi, I’ve just received an email verbatim to your sample. Thanks. Your site was the first that came up when I put the first sentence into google. It was from “Jeff from Hawaii”!!
    Cheers!

  8. A few days ago somebody using the name “Cobbs David from Michigan” contacted me through my website, saying that “I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately, in respect of my wedding anniversary which is just around the corner. I came across some of your works which I found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit you are doing quite an impressive job. You are undoubtedly good at what you do. With that being said, I would like to purchase some of your works as a surprise gift to my wife in honor of our wedding anniversary. It would be of help if you could send some pictures of your piece of works, with their respective prices and sizes, which is readily available for immediate (or close to immediate) sales. My budget for this is within the price range of $1500 to $7000. I look forward to your response so as to get more enlightened and have selective choices. As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept a cheque as a means of payment.”

  9. I received the exact same email from a Nicholas Barry from Richmond Indiana with an almost identical wedding anniversary story, all I had to do was Google and I found so many similar stories. Stay safe everyone!

  10. Same deal Nicolas Barry….needs Art for wife’s anniversary!
    Said ,would send a cashiers check right?
    Always begin letter with Thanks for quick response.

    Disgusting vulturism.
    I wont even send a pic no way!

  11. I am amazed! I’ve had a number of these scams in the past – they are instantly recognisable by all the signs you mention. The latest, however, could have been written by you! Your example is SO close, I think the scammer just copied it and pasted it to me! Word for word – do they all belong to a group or club together? I just love the idea of playing with them and catching them out!

  12. The exact same email is still around. Got them recently by the following names:

    Bruce Couillard, Glenn Hagen and John Bright.

    My reply “we do not accept check payment” silenced all three of them.  

  13. Bottom line artists. Never respond, period. I get them and delete them. If you have ecommerce, just be sure all payment options are listed on your cart page such as Visa, PayPal, etc. If you don’t have ecommerce, sell your work via exhibits in your area and demand cash payment. Be sure your exhibit is in a safe place, even if you have to rent it, perhaps a group of artists can rent the space. But never ever respond to those emails. If you do, you become a live one to them and they will keep coming at you in different ways. Ignore them, delete them, is the thing to do.

  14. Thanks to this blog post I immediately could verify that this is a scam. The email is almost verbatim what you posted. Everything you flagged also made me suspicious but I couldn’t figure out how the scam worked. Thank you for your help.

  15. I just ended a dialog with “Jamie Dalton” whose wife is enthralled with my work. His budget was $450 – $2,000. But he wanted me to choose a work. I responded by asking him for sizes, subject, color. Also he should come in person to my gallery and select piece. (I was already suspicious by this point. ) I asked where he lived. No reply to that.
    Instead he said I should select a sculpture, abstract piece. Now I had him!
    I replied: You must have me confused with another artist. I paint landscapes.
    Wonder what he will say next.

  16. I got something very similar to this about four years ago, and it nearly got me (though luckily I realised something was amiss before any financial transactions took place). The one from 2018 mentioned ‘looking over his wife’s shoulder as she was surfing the internet’. So, after several years I received this one today…

    INQUIRY TO PURCHASE AVAILAIBLE ART PIECE FOR MY UPCOMING WEDDING ANNIVERSARY

    “Hey,

    How are you doing today? I’m Jamie Wilson from Mount Savage Maryland. I was just surfing on the internet and came across some art pages. I love your work and I’d like to know if there’s a piece of art for wedding anniversaries available and their asking price list. I would like to purchase some of your art as a present to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary .As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept a check as a means of payment.

    I await your response.
    Best Regards”

  17. I just received the EXACT scam email to my art website this morning coming in at 3:30am! I knew right there something was off. Also the poor grammar and asking what my prices were when listed with my art was another tip off. My sender was named Nicholas Britton ..

  18. I was scammed like this two years ago and lost a couple grand. Just received another “inquiry” with the nearly exact wording. Wont reply this time.

  19. An immediate red flag is confirmed by this article and the above comments. Just received this version today.

    Hey,

    How are you doing today? I’m Jamie Wilson from Mount Savage Maryland. I was just surfing on the internet and came across some art pages. I love your work and I’d like to know if there’s a piece of art for wedding anniversaries available and their asking price list. I would like to purchase some of your art as a present to my wife in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary .As a matter of importance, I would also like to know if you accept a check as a means of payment.

    I await your response.
    Best Regards

    [email protected]

  20. I just received the same email from a “Nicholas Britton” from West Virginia. I received something similar aprox 5 yrs ago. I will report it to the company that does my website. Btw…I never except checks unless its from someone I personally know and trust.

  21. I get one of these letters every two years and just got one who copied the letter above word for word. Last year I had a very sophisticated scammer “Christian Grant” from San Francisco who listed five sculptures for prices. I googled his address and satellite showed it as an apartment complex. The amount came to $14,000. I did not give him my wiring information but asked for cashier check instead. I told him I would not ship until I was sure the check passed at my bank. I asked him what he did for a living and he mentioned something like software development. He took the scam a long way. For some reason he sent two cashier checks, $14,000 each, with identical issuing numbers. One of the checks looked like a copy and the other check was very fancy and said that the paper had 13 safety features printed into it to guard against fraud. Another red flag was the bank issuing the check was from Newburyport, Massachusetts–a small bank with only five branches in one county. Why use a bank 3000 miles away? I took both checks to my bank in Marysville, Ohio. They thought it looked legit and were willing to cash the check for me. I told them “no” and I wanted them to call the bank in Newburyport, MA to see if they issued the check. The manager of the Newburyport bank said they never heard of Christian Grant and the numbers on the check have nothing to do with the dates the checks were supposed to have been issued. After dealing with “Christian Grant” with a nice Christian name and an excellent use of English language and grammar for two months, I politely put the theater to rest and wrote that I could not do business with him because both checks had bounced. The bank manager in Newburyport MA said that following up with legal action would be a waste of time so this makes scammers more dangerous if the law is not willing to act.
    I still can’t figure out what his scam was…free artwork? He knows that I would not be sending any overpayment back to him. Maybe he expected me to cash both checks? Poor Christian was barking up the wrong tree because a few months earlier I sold most of my art collection to one collector. I was in need of sales when the first scam was tried 20 years ago. This page was very helpful then. “Christian Grant” was very “Americanized”–most scammers write like they are texting on the back of a camel.

  22. This type of email is still going around! Trust your gut- if it feels off, it most likely is. This time from Gary Robert from New York who is moving to the Philippines and his wife’s anniversary is taking place at the same time! So we’ve got to do this quick!

  23. I’m a photographer and received this one today:

    “Hello, My name is Nicole from Denver, CO. I was looking for some artwork online and I found your contact while searching. I Would like to purchase some of your work for my husband 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 within the price range $300- $3,500, i could be flexible with the price. So I will hope to hear a lot more about any available piece in your inventory ready for immediate sale. Thanks and best regards, Nicole Hicks.”

    Wish I’d read this page before replying. I did unfortunately send a couple of pictures but told them sales tax and shipping would be added to the sale price, and I have Square so I can accept credit and debit.

    I wish I’d thought to look at the sender’s email address before replying too. I would have trashed it immediately. It isn’t any ordinary email address: [combination of numbers and letters @ wix . com)

  24. I am an artist and received the following emails…

    “My name is Christana Hollis, I live in Chicago IL. I have been on the lookout for some artworks lately in regards to I and my Husband’s anniversary which is just around the corner.
    Could you please provide more information as regards your artsy collection.
    Kind regards.
    Christana.”

    “Sorry for my late response.I just came back from vacation. I have chosen these 3 attached Art Pieces. Kindly get back to me with the asking price.”

    “Ok,Are you okay with me paying you with check because I’ve a chargeback dispute currently set on my account using any money app. So I was instructed to pay with check by my bank.
    I hope that works?”

  25. Just typed in the email address of the “gentleman” who reached out to me regarding a purchase for his wife’s anniversary gift, and this was a direct hit. I’ve heard from “Phillip Bush of Brooklyn, NY” who also wants to use a check. I told him I do all sales through the Etsy Platform, gave him a link and told him I don’t think they take checks. Sigh.

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