How not to get ripped off

How not to get ripped off



We’ve all had contact with the scammers. They email us, message us and waste our time. But how do the scams work? Here’s a few to watch out for.


  1. The Present-buyer

You receive a contact: “I am *Rotten Thief* from Scamtown Idaho and I found your art while searching online and I want to buy a surprise present ….”

How it works: They are from overseas and say they need to use their own shipper – they are relocating or may be working on an oil rig.

They offer to pay by money order, cashier’s cheque or direct debit and include exorbitant costs of shipping to the purchase price to cover the expense.

They ask you to separate the shipping costs from the price of the art and pay into the (fake) shipper’s account. Then, their cheque/money order bounces.

Result: You have been scammed for the cost of shipping – often adding up to thousands of dollars (they pretend to buy your biggest pieces or numerous pieces ).

Red Flags:

  • They don’t use your name in the initial email and are unfamiliar with your work.
  • Time pressure is applied
  • They don’t use regular payment methods.
  • They insist on their own shipper and overpay massively to cover.
  1. “I want to use your art for NFT.”

How it works: There are a variety of forms of this scam, using phishing websites, fake sales, bidding bots and fake NFT trading platforms.

They are trying to get you to deposit cryptocurrency into a fake trading platform, or they are stealing your personal details when you provide identifying information to set up an account.

They may also ask you to pay to use the platform to trade your work.

Red Flags:

  • Unsolicited approach
  • NFTs are dead meat anyway. See this article on The Conversation. 
  1. Facebook friend scam

How it works: You may receive contact from someone you know, but are not close to (like an old schoolmate) asking to buy your work. In fact, thieves will have stolen that person’s Facebook account or have set up a fake account in their name.

They want to pay by Paypal and ask for your email address, but say they can’t get through and that Paypal will send a code to your phone. Once you enter it, they take over your PayPal account and access your bank account.

Red Flags:

They will be a bit unfamiliar with your work and the pieces they want to buy. They will insist on a certain payment platform (like Paypal), will request your email and then require you to use a code.

Read more 

4. Vanity Projects

They make money from the artist, not from selling your work.

First, you get an email from a gallery, art fair, magazine or book publisher inviting you to participate for a fee. These are not necessarily scams, but what they offer may be worthless in promoting your art and involve significant cost.

They take advantage of an artist’s naivity.

Result: You will have paid significant sums for “exposure”, but it will have no practical benefit. What is worse, art world insiders will know it is a “pay to play” project and it will damage your reputation.

Protect yourself: Look them up on the website HowsmydealingThis website compiles reviews by artists and names fake galleries.


All sorts of scams reported, examples given:

How to protect yourself from email scams: 

Everything you need to know about NFTs:

Spot an art fraud:

Gallerist plays along with a scammer:

Everything you need to know about vanity projects:


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