Art buying scams, how to avoid them

Art buying scams, how to avoid them

August 16, 2013 | ART | No Comments

I got this email this morning-

Hi Paula, I believe I have been subjected to a scam via your site. I received an email from one Thomas Map offering to buy two drawings. I believe that the person was just after my bank details. The email came from Lagos Nigeria and the person firstly went to my ‘information’ page to get my email then went on to just one gallery page and chose two drawings to nominate. Have you had any other reports from your artists?

Susan Williams

Apparently Smart Detective Susan above could see that the email came from Nigeria, info below from Susan. That seems to be an excellent place to start to examine a long distance request from.

Hi again Paula, I’m pleased you can warn other people. The info I have on him comes from my web stats and is as follows:
email: thomas_map@aol.com
location: Lagos, Nigeria
IP address: Visafone (41.71.178.146)
browser : Chrome 28.0 O.S. Windows 8

I use STATCOUNTER for my analytics. He obviously just went straight on to my info page, got my email then used his own email to contact me so I was able to reply to him directly. It’s a shame this man didn’t have a website from which he operated because then all you have to do is to go onto WHOIS and you can find out who registered the domain name, their address and telephone number and lots of other info about who they are and their operations.  

In the past when people have set up websites which try to rip off artists I have given them a good fright by writing directly to their home address. One gallery in London (Brick Lane Gallery) is a real rip off company and I was able to find out loads about their businesses  and reported them to the Inland Revenue who were very interested in them. 

One woman in New York set up a website to try to get artists to pay her to exhibit online with them (and supposedly in their physical gallery of which there was a picture) and I was able to find out that the ‘gallery’ was an office which she had rented in Manhattan for the afternoon. I went on to Google Earth, found the building and so got on to the  managers of the property who readily gave me the info on who rents the spaces and for how long. 

I would similarly like to give this Thomas his come uppance as I’m really tired of people trying to exploit artists who have a tough enough time anyway!
I’m very pleased you are doing your blog.
Best Sue.

 F_David_Dalla_Venezia_ddv566oc41x332008

The dramatic painting by David Dalla Venezia above represents our frustration really well! Grrrrrrrr!!!!

Unfortunately the person purporting to be Thomas Map from Glasgow seems to be a scam artist. He emailed me last week and we went back and forth in several emails but when I kept asking him how he had come across my site, what other artists he had bought similar work from that I could check with about they purchasing experience, he of course terminated our emails.

Saying he was in Glasgow, I offered him the option to mail a check to a British friend or to pay with Pay Pal, which he declined.

Please be careful and vigilant with any and all requests from long distance buyers of your works. Request secure payment form and make sure it clears before mailing anything. There are many great legitimate buyers out there but unfortunately many scam artists out there too.

When I asked others about their experiences with long distance buyers they shared these interesting and useful responses:

Kez – Hi Paula, I have used paypal through Etsy for years now. I have also sold ceramics in Norway through Paypal. Remember to estimate your shipping through the Canada Post site and allow for very good packaging. Your client should not have a problem with paying, it clearing, etc.

Cindy – I have sold my work via PayPal, moneybookers, bank transfer and through Saatchi online. I have yet to have a problem and have sold dozens of pieces overseas from England to Kuwait. P.S. It has been my experience that most international inquiries are genuine. The cons are rather easy to spot. I’d say 35-40% of my sales are international.

Leah – I have clients in the US & Australia Paula and I simply invoice them through Paypal and it works like a charm. There is of course the fees but very reasonable. They also have the option of disputing the payment within a certain time frame which may give them comfort in knowing that they do have some recourse – whether it actually works or not – to come back to you if you do not give them the art work (Not that you are going to do that but something to consider on their end of it)

Scott – Bank drafts and money orders can be faked and usually you do not know till they fail to clear, some times 30 days after you have deposited them. Of course this is not always the case, many people are honest : )

Kathy – i have used paypal for several years….it is a wonderful & secure service…plus i once ordered shoes online, which never came, and i submitted a report (easily) and i was credited my money back!! i would definitely recommend!… i also do etransfers through email….. very handy!

Stephen – Yes Paypal, used it many times when selling art domestically and abroad, the fee stings a bit, but secure at least.

Kenneth – Paypal is the way to go. It was set up to do just that.

Katie – Paypal does work. I always stipulate that shipping, insurance are buyer’s responsibility & must be prepaid along w/ the purchase price for the item. I never accept any credit card, western union or bank tsf payments. I also think most international requests are scams. Usually the english is grammatically flawed & I take that to mean it’s a scam. Paypal is good because u never need to give out any info. & if a pp notice is genuine u can tell by how it’s worded.

Good luck all and keep up your detective skills! Artist Sue Rubira above.


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  1. Reply

    Carolynn Bloomer

    September 2, 2013

    Yes I’ve had emails from him three times now. The same thing- saying he wanted to buy two or three pieces that he saw on my website.. I believe the first time (a few years ago) I asked him where he was and never got a response.
    The last two times I just deleted his email.
    Cheers, Paula— nice blog!

    • Reply

      PaulaArtist

      September 3, 2013

      Thanks Carolyn. What a creep. At least now we can let each other know…
      Cheers!


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