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Neil Capozzi Speaks About News, Tools And Resources For Artists Beyond Paint, Paper And Supplies. Staying Safe From An Artist Scam And What To Do If It Happens

Scammers take advantage of emotions when approaching their victims. Visual artists are just as vulnerable as other scam victims. Art scammers play on your emotions and your desire/need to make a living from your art. Now that galleries, art shows, and art exhibits are closed due to the Covid19 outbreak, we are more vulnerable than ever!  We all know internet art scams exist, but sometimes it’s easy to forget about the warning signs with the excitement of a potential sale.  The Rickie Report speaks with Neil Capozzi, owner of Stuart Art Supply & Artists’ Nook Studio about the latest scams exploiting visual artists, how to avoid being a victim, and what you can do if you’ve been victimized.

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart Art Supply  & Artists’ Nook Studio

43 SE Kindred Street  Stuart, FL 34990

http://www.stuartartsupply.com

772.220.4500

n.capozzi@stuartartsupply.com

MONDAY – FRIDAY  10 AM – 5 PM

SATURDAY  10 AM – 3 PM

 

 

 

 

WARNING!   WARNING!   WARNING!

 

 

 

TRR:   Tell us some of the aspects of an artist scam

NC:

People figuring out how to exploit striving artists is nothing new, but technology and changing market structures have opened up some new ways to do it.  While I don’t subscribe to the notion that all artists are “struggling” or “starving”, these are creative people who are at their most vulnerable when approached for a “big sale”.

 

As a small business owner, I’ve experienced many unusual events throughout the years and one instance seems to be recurring. This is a good time to remind those in the creative sector to be careful with their online presence. If you get an offer to purchase something you sell, be attentive. Sometimes if an offer is too good to be true then it most likely leads you into a trap.

 

I was recently contacted by a client/artist (we’ll refer to as “A”) who is a novice in the online art world. Like so many, she posts her images on the web on various social media sites and her own website. “A” mentioned that she was contacted from her website by someone who was interested in purchasing some art as a gift for her husband. Since this was a cold contact via a website that doesn’t offer online sales, I was immediately suspect!

 

I asked “A” where she was in the transaction and she said they’d agreed on a price and the method of payment, shipping and how to compensate the shipper. I instantly suggested she not do anything else.  Understandably, she became nervous and we agreed that she would no longer make any attempts to move the process forward. The buyer continued to email “A” and praised the work she saw on her website. “A” called me, and we talked some more, and we decided to play along. The buyer would not give her address or her telephone number. The excuse was that this was a gift and that she uses a local company to ship the order anyway so there was no need for her to provide the information to the artist. The only contact was via email.

 

“A” was contacted via email by the buyer with updated payment information. The buyer said she issued a bank draft and gave”A” the UPS tracking number. “Wow, the buyer still seemed serious”, “A” thought!  “What should I do?” I told her to wait until the check arrived. The check arrived a day later. “A” was tense – “what do I do now?”. The amount on the check was $2500 and this amount was well above the agreed upon purchase amount. The buyer’s instructions were to pack the purchase and she would send her shipper to pick up the items and send them to her, the shipper would collect the balance of the $2500 check in cash.

 

I told “A” to call the bank on the check and asked if there were sufficient funds. When she did, the bank told her that the check was drawn on a fake account. So, if my client proceeded with the transaction, she would have been out the art and the cash she gave the shipper. It’s an old scam and it continues to catch people off guard. Remember, if you get an offer that is to good to be true it usually is!

 

 

 

TRR:  Preying on the vulnerability of an artist, whose ego is what is on the canvas, in a sculpture, or part of any visual art is appalling.  This is not the first time I have heard about this, which is why we want to share some specific information to avoid being scammed.  What are the “red flags”?

 

 

 

 

 


NC:

 

RED FLAGS

1. Impersonal Stories

The “buyer” uses a story to hook you about their wife liking your work or wanting art for a new home, but it sounds stunted and impersonal. A big tip off is that they do not even address you by name, but simply start with “Hello”. This way they can send the same email to thousands of artists.

2. A Foreign Emailer

The “buyer”usually claims to live in another country — far from where you live — to make sure the art has to be shipped. This is all part of their dastardly plan.

3. A Sense of Urgency

The “buyer” claims they need your art quickly. That way the art will be shipped before you find out the check or credit card details are fraudulent.

4. A Fishy Request

The “buyer” requests your personal information, including back accounts

The request doesn’t add up. For instance, the “buyer” wants to buy three pieces and asks for prices and dimensions, but doesn’t include the pieces’ names. Or, they want to purchase a piece that is marked as sold on your website. It will reek of suspicious activity.

5. Poor Language/ Spelling and Phrasing Errors

The email is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors and doesn’t flow as a normal email should.

6. Strange Spacing

The email is oddly spaced. This means the weasel carelessly copied and pasted the same message to thousands of artists, hoping some will fall for the scam.

7. A Cashier’s Check Request

 The “buyer” suggests non-traditional payment transactions or sending money to a third party.

The “buyer” insists that they can only pay by cashier’s check. These checks will be fake and you could be blamed when your bank discovers the fraud. However, by the time this happens the scammer will have already received your art.

8. Outside Shipping Wanted

They want to use their own shipper–which is usually a fake shipping company that is in on the scam. They often say they are moving and will have their moving company pick up your artwork.

9.  Be Cautious of “Relay Calls”

People with hearing or speech difficulties legitimately use relay calls. Scammers may also use this communication service to contact you.  Do Not Accept relay calls unless you know the person using this service.  Scammers often use a “third party” who “works” for a communications company.  Often, an “overage amount” is involved.  Hang up!

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that a scam email might not have all of these signs, but go with your gut.

 

Scammers can be clever.

 

Stick with the old adage: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRR:   If you are scammed, What can you do?

 

NC:

Being scammed or even experiencing an unsuccessful attempt can feel incredibly frustrating and insulting. It’s normal to want to somehow “get back” at the scammer. Some people satisfy this urge by engaging with the scammer in order to “waste their time”, but honestly this is just a waste of your own valuable time. Your best response is to ignore it and move on, or possibly submit a complaint to the FTC using the link below.

 

TRR:    As AARP.org reminds us, “It’s about emotion, not logic!”  Read the fine print of everything you sign!  If your eyes glaze over, it’s time to consider asking for legal help.  As I say in my art-marketing seminars…”do you know how to fix a car engine?  No?  So, you decide to bring it to someone who does. Then, why are you hesitating to get legal advice?”

 

A new scam trending upon the internet is the false premise of an online gallery.

Recently, one of InLiquid’s members received a scam. It was a “call for submissions” to a now-non-existent business called Faburry Gallery, supposedly located in Philadelphia. With a rather vague and platitudinous description of their mission, they have asked artists for submissions via email, also asking for a small fee of $5 per submission. Yes, it’s a small price, any independent contractor could eat up the loss, however it gives way to an entirely new scam-frontier: identity theft. Although we would typically suggest to deal art locally, this only further raises our eyebrows on what is considered safe. While eager to have one’s art visible on a national scale, this style of enticement couldn’t be more of a bait-and-switch. 

So to all our hard working artists out there, our only suggestion is to always be aware. Most scams come in patterns and, quite often, are too good to be true. As an organization dedicated to the promotion of artists, we will do our best to always keep you posted. 

 

This sickening strategy allows them to either steal your original works, money, or both. It’s crucial to know the signs and how to protect yourself, so you can continue to benefit from legitimate online opportunities. And, continue to sell your art to a whole new audience of interested, REAL buyers.

RESOURCES:

 

 

TRR:

Here are some helpful websites with information on frauds and scams.  Stay a step ahead of scammers and keep yourself updated with the latest information on scams and tips to help prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

Art Advocate and colleague, Carolyn Edlund, from ArtsyShark tells us, “I have seen this exact scam, but it doesn’t even need to be a payment for an art sale. I got one from a weird address at Paypal billing me for a domain name (which I do own) but for three times the price! I didn’t bite, but contacted Paypal and they asked me to forward it to spoof@paypal.com. One of my clients got something similar, simply telling her there was an issue with her account and that she should log in through a link. Paypal must address these problems, because surely there are a ton of people, including artists, getting ripped off”.   Again, when in doubt, contact Paypal!  For more information, contact Carolyn@ArtsyShark.com or visit www.ArtsyShark.com

 

Read this article from Agora Gallery:   https://www.agora-gallery.com

          (Look under “For Artists”  and then  “Artist Advice Blog”)

Read Kathleen McMahon’s Art Scam blog:  www.kathleenmcmahon.com

Federal Trade Commission – Scam Alerts

 

www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov

The Federal Trade Commission’s Scam Alerts page keeps consumers up to date on recent scam alerts with what to know and do about scams in the news.

www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

Federal Bureau of Investigation – Common Fraud Schemes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has developed their Common Fraud Schemes website to inform you on the most common scams that the FBI investigates and tips to help prevent you from becoming a victim.

www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud

USA.gov – Consumer Frauds and Scams

The USA.gov Consumer Frauds and scams website hosts information and tips on how to avoid scams and fraud with a special section dedicated to current scams to be aware of.

www.usa.gov/topics/consumer/scams-fraud.shtml

Better Business Bureau – Scam Stopper

The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Stopper website has information on scams including top scams, the science of scams, who gets scammed and report a scam.

www.bbb.org/council/bbb-scam-stopper/

For more information about art supplies, art classes, or the opportunity to conduct art classes:

 

 

Check Out The Classes/Workshops  Here:

 

Stuart Art Supply  & Artists’ Nook Studio

43 SE Kindred Street  Stuart, FL 34990

http://www.stuartartsupply.com

772.220.4500

n.capozzi@stuartartsupply.com

MONDAY – FRIDAY  10 AM – 5 PM

SATURDAY  10 AM – 3 PM

 

 

For coverage of your events, to place an advertisement, or speak to Rickie about appearing in The Rickie Report, contact:

Rickie Leiter, Publisher

Rickie@therickiereport.com   561-537-0291

17019 SW Sapri Way   Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

 

To read previous posts, click TheRickieReport.com and scroll down.