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:
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.
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.
On a related note, and last but not least, have a listen to this TED Talk with James Veitch, who responded to a spam email with hilarious results: