Friday, November 02, 2012

Ye Olde Art Scam

It seems as long as there have been artists making art there have been those ready to rip them off in one way or another.

More likely than not, I bet the first prehistoric cave painters had shifty Neanderthal cave neighbors who offered them a cashier’s check with a sob story in exchange for their work.


Most artists that I know, myself included, work incredibly hard to make their art. Those who have dedicated their life and their careers to art have not done so easily and certainly not without sacrificing the perks of a traditional career (steady paycheck, health insurance, financial stability).

Please pardon the pun – but you get the picture. And because you are so bright,  I don’t have to spend anymore time documenting the “peaks and valleys” life of the artist. But if for some reason you feel the need for more documentation on that, just ask the next person you meet who makes their living as an artist and ask if their career choice has been a piece of cake.

So, imagine my disgust when I received an African Scam email just this morning in my inbox. It’s just one of many I’ve received over the years. Each time I read one, the feeling is akin to stepping in a freshly laid pile of dog filth.

Not a nice sensation eh?

The email had the same story about a young couple of art collectors and their move to Africa from the states, a love of my newly discovered work on my website and the offer to buy several pieces to be shipped to the new address overseas in exchange for a cashier’s check.

The scam really isn’t about getting the work for free. It’s the money. It’s always the money.

What usually happens is that the cashier’s check is purposefully made with an overpayment that the buyer claims is a mistake. They then ask you to deposit the check in your account and to simply wire them the difference.

The scam is in the timing. A kind hearted and gullible artist eager to please a new client and potential new collector will wire the money before it is revealed that the cashier’s check is bogus.

The only possible saving grace is that often the money scam happens before the work is shipped – in fact, the “buyer” often instructs them that a moving company will be in touch with them about shipping the art which never happens. So, usually - but not always - the work remains in the hands of the artists. You can see many examples of these scams on the blog


My response to “Amanda” was as follows -

Amanda -
Thank you for your email of interest in my work. My best advice on how to proceed would be for you to take your generous offer and go fuck yourself with it. In fact, fuck you and your scam you soulless cow. How dare you try to rip off hard working American artists in this manner? Why don't you go back to turning tricks in the streets of Africa for money since you are clearly one desperate and dirty fucking whore.
Thanks again!

Too harsh? No. And that’s how I deal with the African Art Scam. Well, usually I don’t respond at all – but this being Friday. So, artists – don’t allow these skanks to take advantage of you.

Be wise and beware the scam. And please – visit for more information!

1 comment:

Beth Barnett said...

I got not one, but two similar messages in my inbox recently. They say not to engage these 'people' by responding in anyway, so I didn't, but I so wanted to tell them what to do. Something very similar to what you said. Creeps.