Two of the people I subscribe to have recently tackled the potential for fraud and scams perpetrated on artists - often through the medium of websites, blogs and e-mail. Many are of a repeated type which are now becoming well-known - but not everybody has yet got the message.
Here are the links to the two articles - plus I suggest reading the very useful comments of some of their readers:
- Robert Genn (Painter's Keys) - How to Spot a Phony
- Alyson B Stanfield (Artbizblog) - What to do with a vague e-mail
For those wanting to know more there are also other sites which cover various sorts of Internet fraud (eg including bogus charities). These include:
- Get Safe Online (UK) website - includes
- Dealing with e-commerce fraud
- How to keep your online shop safe
- How to trade safely on e-bay
- How to shop online safely
- Prevent corporate identity theft
- Get Safe Online Blog
- US Department of Justice: Internet and Telemarketing Fraud - although most of this seems to be aimed at consumers rather than people selling on the internet
- FBI: Internet Fraud
- wikipedia: Internet Fraud
- a set of Internet Crime Prevention Tips for various types of activity including internet auction fraud, counterfeit cashier's check fraud, credit card fraud, the 'nigerian letter' fraud and reshipping fraud
- FAQs for people who have been victims and/or who need to make a complaint (this tells you how to file a spam e-mail)
In relation to sales of artwork, be on your guard and exercise caution if one or more of the following apply to any approach made to you via e-mail:
- the e-mail is vague and unspecific about what the 'prospect' wants to buy
- a proposal to buy more than one work
- a house move is involved
- a sob story is involved
- artwork is needed urgently
- a third party will remit payment
- e-mail contains spelling mistakes and typos
- command of the English language is poor eg poor grammar and punctuation
- suggestion that work should be collected prior to clearance of funds
- proposed over-payment (the payment is almost certainly fraudulent!)
- an over-payment made 'by mistake' (the payment is almost certainly fraudulent!)
- proposed payment method puts you at risk
- anonymous e-mail accounts
- various countries involved in terms of client, shipping address, location of bank account etc
- do not accept or cash cashier's cheques
- do not accept or cash payments via Western Union
- indicate payment via paypal only for international transactions - it can deter scammers
- wait until a payment has cleared properly before sending work (ie no chance of funds deposited also being withdrawn from your account)
- avoid confirming your e-mail address to scammers by opening an unexpected e-mail.
- always beware of opening an e-mail that it is not from an identifiable person.
- Just because someone has a website, an e-mail address and a postal address does not mean the person isn't a scammer.
And don't forget, this is big business. Yesterday, police in the UK, USA, Canada and Nigeria announced that they had smashed a £1 billion pound internet fraud ring.
British police yesterday hailed the arrest of an international gang of fraudsters as a landmark victory against internet crime, following a sting across four countries. More than £8.5m worth of fake cheques and other fraudulent documents were seized in a series of overnight raids across the UK in a joint operation overseen by Britain's Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca).
The raids, which also took place in the US, Canada and Nigeria, are said to have scooped more than £1bn in fraudulent cheques and money orders. Investigators said that the fraudsters, who mainly used the internet to target vulnerable people for small amounts of money, had racked up vast sums for their efforts.
Police smash £1bn internet fraud gang, The Guardian 5th October 2007