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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Avoiding Scams designed to take your art and money

Scammers and Con men and women have been around for probably as long as their has been money, and ultimately the goal of these scams is to liberate honest individuals from their money, products or both.  With the advent of the internet, the number of scammers in the us has increased dramatically. Unfortunately the police will not get involved until you actually get relieved of your money and artwork, so it is important to be aware of the common denominator in many of these scams.

There is a common denominator in pretty much all the scams, regardless of how they are initially presented.  In the artist version the individual approaches the artist and wants to forward a "certified check" that has an excess of money that you are to wire transfer back to them or one of their associates. It is not always revealed up front that there will be an excess but you can bet on this.  These checks are fake, and some of the bolder scammers will use the identities of actual business owners as the account holder, however a call to the supposed account holder will often reveal that the check is a forgery, or sometimes the entire information with perhaps the exception of the bank name is faked. It often takes 2 or more weeks for the check to be confirmed a fraud, and what happens is that people deposit these checks thinking they are legitimate, and end up holding the bag for the amount of the check, plus heft return fees. Additionally it is unwise to accept money orders for the same reason as they can be easily faked as well with the same outcome. The scammer may also set up a pick up of the art in question.  Personally I would never consider taking a check unless I personally knew the owners. When I use Craig's list it is usually a cash only transaction with local people, and I would not take a check unless I knew the person individually, and Very well. 

This is an actual email that I received from a Craig's List post in which I had multiple paintings listed

Hello,I will be buying from you so please kindly withdraw the advert
from Craigs_List. i will be paying with a via US Certified Check from
my Bank it will be delivered to you via (UPS Next Day Air®) or via Fed
Ex, so I'll need you to provide me with the following  information to
facilitate the mailing of the check...

Full name to be on the payment and full of address with Apt # suite #
including your cell phone,and a firm price,

I will make arrangements for the pick up as soon as you have your
money I am completely satisfied with the advert and the payment will
be delivered via Fed Ex. Thanks.

Another warning sign is that a scammer may fail to identify the art they are interested, as the true goal is to extract money from the individual, the art is just the bonus.  My advertisement has multiple pieces listed, yet the would be buyers failed to identify which piece they wanted. This is a huge red flag as well.  It should be up to the seller how they will ship.

Receiving an email that demands for an item to be shipped a certain way or to be picked up by their agents is a sure sign of a scam.  Despite the desire to sell, never give in to the temptation to let the buyer set the terms, it is almost assuredly a recipe for disaster. You as the creator and seller are solely responsible for deciding how you ship. 

The best bet for the artist is to use a trusted pay source such as pay pal, or we pay to process checks. Paypal has an in-house method of investigating potentially fraudulent transactions.  Additionally it is wise to use common shipping couriers such as the USPS, FED-EX or UPS  to ship parcels as they provide undeniable proof that the item was delivered. Additionally it is also wise to include insurance in case the object fails to make it to its destination in one piece.

Recognizing the signs of a scam is crucial to avoid losing your money and art.  Using the common sense approach of only accepting a verifiable payment system such as paypal, and shipping in a way that you decide is the best bet for safely selling your art.

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