The following message from Artists Space should be heeded as a general warning to all artists:
Dear Members of the Irving Sandler Artists File Online,
The public and open nature of the Artists File Online is meant to serve genuinely interested curators and arts professionals, and this is the majority of our audience. Unfortunately, some devious persons have recently chosen to take advantage of this open forum, so please use caution when a person contacts you through the Artists File Online. Look for red flags such as instructions for you to send someone your artwork or money, and contact us immediately if you suspect a fraudulent claim.
Information about some of the repeated art scammers can be found on our public bulletin board called Letha’s List.
Please visit the following link to get more info: http://afonline.artistsspace.org/llist/viewforum.php?f=4
The scam has typically manifested itself through the following series of events:
â€¢ The scammer first establishes contact with the artist, and offers to purchase work.
â€¢ After some e-mail correspondence, the scammer obtains the artist’s address and personal information and agrees to send them a check for the amount of the work.
â€¢ The artist receives the check from the scammer. However, it is in excess of the amount agreed upon for the sale of the work.
â€¢ At this point, the scammer might call the artist (if they have a phone number) to confirm details of the sale or to make themselves look more like a real person.
â€¢ The scammer invents some excuse for this overpayment then asks the artist to deposit the check into their own account, and withdraw the excess amount for shipping. The scammer then asks the artist to send this amount of money via Western Union to the supposed â€œshipperâ€ (For example, if the artist agrees to sell the work for $500, scammer sends a check for $2000, and asks the artist to keep $500 and send $1500 through Western Union to pay for the shipping costs.)
â€¢ The artist deposits the check, and finally, sends the amount of the remaining balance through Western Union.
â€¢ A few weeks later, the artist finds that his or her bank has invalidated the check. In some cases, the bank may actually first clear the funds, but then discover later that the check is counterfeit or stolen.
â€¢ In this way the scammer succeeds in swindling the artist of both their money and artwork.
To protect yourself against this sort of scam, never agree to a deal in which the buyer issues an amount for more than the agreed price and expects you to reimburse the balance. Scammers use a variety of methods to explain the overpayment, but any such excuses should be treated with total suspicion.
By all means wait for the check to clear and double check the authenticity of the check with your bank. (This process usually takes three weeks.) If a deal is legitimate, buyers will understand the potential risks for artists, and expect that their purchase will not be shipped until their check has cleared.