Email scams at artists -
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.


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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  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”!!

  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.


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