Barry, I've been contacted by several of these scammers. Like you, I have successfully sold work to people I didn't already know and who saw my paintings on my web site. Sometimes the initial inquiry doesn't clue me into to whether it is a scammer or a legitimate collector. This said, I usually figure it out within one or two follow-up messages.
Though the individual may mention a title of a work, there are signs that point to something not on the up-and-up. Nearly always the person needs the art immediately, is going to send his own shipper to pick it up, insists on sending a check for a higher amount, out of which the artist is to take what is owed for the art and return the rest, usually is traveling in a foreign country, or moving there, or overseas with the military. Sometimes there are misspellings in the text.
The last one I got was from a "Senior Collins". Well, that could be real, but struck me as a little odd. He told me he saw his wife looking at my website and knows she loves my work and wanted to buy her a piece for her upcoming birthday (or maybe it was a wedding anniversary). He wanted prices of my work and to send him a catalog of available art. Well, my thought is: my website shows what is available, so he shouldn't be asking for a catalog. If he has enough computer knowledge to go on my website and send a message via my contact form, then he's already on my site where can see the art and know what is available. In other words: this is a scammer's tactic. I asked him to tell me the titles of the art his wife would like best and I'd provide prices of those. He responded that she likes all of my work. My experience is that collectors normally like one or two specific pieces, not everything I've done. So this was a big red flag.
A few times I've told people that I insist on their paying via PayPal - or if they send a check I will wait until it clears at the bank before I ship the art. If they are scammers they respond as though they didn't get my message, repeating instructions that their shipper will come by the instant I receive their check and that I must immediately take it to the bank and send them the extra. These days, when a new inquiry comes in about a possible purchase and I have doubts about the sender, my response is fairly brief so that I don't waste a lot of time giving information.
Ms. Lynette R. Cook, Artist/Illustrator
On Dec 24, 2015, at 8:27 AM, Barry K. MacKay wrote:
Best of the holiday season to everyone. A precautionary tale: I have a website (http://barrykentmackay.ca/) which I’m still working on, from which I sell the odd painting. While I do illustrate scientific journals, I also do “gallery art” or whatever you call it, as I know many of us do, but I keep it all simple…no galleries, no reproductions, low prices, direct transactions and so on.
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