The Art of Sandra Busby...
Painter of Playful Light in Glass and Still Life


Thursday, 3 July 2014

How to Recognise what is an Art Scam... and what is NOT...

 We arty-folk are particularly vulnerable to scammers. 
So just how do we recognise when a person is trying to scam us? And just as importantly, when someone is not!

I was recently contacted by a Gentleman from overseas who was interested in purchasing my latest bear for his wife. He said that they lived on an Island and that the bear would need to be delivered to their local delivery office on the mainland. He also said that to save me the Paypal fees, he would like to pay by a bank transfer.

Admittedly, aside from being delighted that he liked the bear, I didn't give it much thought other than slight concerns about how to pack him safely for a trip all the way to the Far East!
But then I remembered something I had read or heard some weeks before and I suddenly became concerned...
I remembered that there are three clear signs that point to a scam...
  1. The person doesn't give a mailing address
  2. The person is from overseas, often Nigeria or the Far east
  3. The person asks to pay by bank transfer or credit card
Apparently, the way it works is that the buyer massively over pays you and then asks you to refund the difference to a third party. Some time after the refund has been made, the initial funds received are found to be fraudulent.

Anyway, since all three signs were staring me in the face, not knowing much about scams I turned to a professional to ask an opinion.  They said that they were almost certain that it was indeed a scam and that to be safe, I should discontinue contact.

Immediately panicked and upset, I emailed the buyer and said that I believed this was a scam and that for this reason I could not risk sending him any of my art. I then shared his initial email on my Facebook Page to warn others that there is a scammer on the prowl. AND - assuming that his name and details were fake, I also shared that information.

I felt quite smug that I had spotted the signs and avoided being a victim, but this feeling was soon over taken by a massive feeling of guilt and shame, when I received a couple of comments from a third party on the post, assuring me that this man was genuine! I also received an email from the buyer who pointed out, quite rightly, that I ought to have done my own research before telling the world that he was a scammer!

Once again in complete panic that I may have falsely accused a perfectly innocent and genuine person of such a thing, I instantly removed the post and did some of my own research. 
Sure enough, there on his Facebook page were photo's of his wife going back to 2009, carrying around a little teddy bear! And he had a Website too. It turns out that he runs a very highly rated dive resort! Not only that but he had been following my Facebook page for several months and I hadn't even realised!

Well, as you can imagine... I could not have felt more utterly horrible if I had tried!
I sent him a massive slice of humble pie via email and surprisingly he was very understanding... Even more surprisingly, despite my premature actions he still wanted to buy the bear! 
I quite expected him to be extremely disgruntled about it, but he was very understanding - Mind you, that made me feel even worse for a while!

Anyway, I received the perfectly genuine funds soon after and this weekend, hopefully the bear will be on his long haul trip to Indonesia.

I learned a HUGE lesson from this. As much as it is very important to recognise the signs of a scam, it is equally important that you don't accuse a genuine person. 

So, if you ever think you might be being scammed, don't react the way I did... Do your research! 
Not just on the signs, but on the actual person too.
I should also point out that the professionals I sought advice from are not at all to blame; they were right to alarm me - I just should have done my own research too and not simply relied entirely on their thoughts.

As a result of my experience, I contacted the AHA show and asked if they might do a show on that very subject. They did, and you can listen to it here.

And below are two very useful links where you can read more about common art scams and how to avoid them:

 Anyway, sorry about that EPIC post!

Meanwhile, I have started that new Cocktail painting (with a sparkler) that I was talking about, but I can't finish it at the moment since I can't get in to my art studio! 
We are decorating the bedroom and it is currently housing a mattress and a king size bed amongst other things, which means that I may not be able to get back to painting for a couple of weeks. Humph!

I'll leave you with the first layer of the new painting. This one takes a little more forward planning than my usual glass paintings...

...I'll be back as soon as I can :0)

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  1. Oh Sandra, what a mess of misunderstanding!!! I would have done exactly the same things you did - the buyer did sound like a scammer. And unfortunately, there are many more scammers than potential purchasers. I am so happy for both of you that it was all sorted out amicably, and your bear will be off to its new home!!!
    The latest painting is already a beauty - look forward to seeing more when the renovations to your bedroom are finished!
    Kathryn XX

    1. Thanks Kathryn - I'm glad you said that you would have done the same! Makes me feel less of a Numpty! Ooh, yes some pics of the bedroom... good idea! I might do that :0)

  2. Oh Sandra my heart went out to you reading this as I think I would've reacted in exactly the same way jumping the gun in a panic! I'm so glad it was genuine and that the poor man still wanted the art work after you outed him incorrectly as a scanner! I'm glad it all turned out alright!

    1. Thanks Nic... I am so relieved that I'm not alone and other people have said that they would have thought the same as I did! I'm glad he forgave me too... Nice man :0)

  3. What a valuable post, Sandra. Thank you for sharing this - despite the fact that it must have felt scary and then mortifying at times during the whole process. This is such fantastic information for other artists.

    So pleased you weren't a victim of a scammer, and that your bear was sold to someone who really wants it.

    1. Hi Vandy
      Thank you so much - I'm so glad you found my post valuable!
      I'm amazed he still brought the little bear, so he must really like him, which means he must be going to a good home - That makes me happy :0)

  4. I am happy it turned out to be a genuine buyer, but what a misunderstanding! I think I would have reacted the same. Thank you for sharing this, Sandra, everyone should be warned.

    1. Thanks so much Judy - It seems I'm definitely not alone which makes me fee better, thank you!
      Hopefully we can all learn something from it :0)

  5. It's a good drink :) Arianna

  6. Thanks for sharing your insights Sandra! Lots to think about.
    Happy Painting.

  7. I have to admit this post is definitely scary and I really appreciate you sharing with us.
    I have been scammed and as a result my computer needed to be fixed... I have a hard time trusting people now. I don't even want to resarch...too afraid! Lol....However, I'm so happy that it turned out well for you and that your bear was sold! And of course LOVE your newest painting aand I look forward to seeing your next post...

    1. Thanks Hilda and I'm sorry you have been scammed. What an inconvenience that it's affected your computer! I'm glad you are still able to post on your blog at least :0)

  8. Thank you, Sandra, for sharing this experience with us. I get so many inquiries that seem like scams that I have gotten into the habit of just deleting them without replying. Your post will make me do my own research before deleting! Glad your wonderful bear found a loving home!

    1. Well I suppose it's better to be too cautious than not cautious enough... But yes, it goes to show that they may not all be scams :0)

  9. Oh wow! What a turnaround! Talk about the full range of emotions.Yikes : ) A good lesson and a great outcome. Thanks for sharing Sandra!

  10. I cringed when I realised that you answered this guy. If it were me, his email would have gone straight into the trash folder. In the end though, you made a sale (Yay!). The only downside is that you have suffered a great deal of aggro with this transaction :(

    1. Yes I did Frank! I learned a lesson from it that's for sure!
      But it goes to show that not everyone is what they seem :0)


Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Where possible I will respond via email. I really do love to read them! They always make me smile ;0)


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