I Want To Buy All of Your Artwork! (Tina Garrett)

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I Want To Buy All of Your Artwork!

April Fools! I'm Just An Email Scammer

I don't know if some sort of Mercury Retrograde applies to emails, but this year, my inbox has been overwhelmed by spam, scams, and what I call "email bombs." And since I haven't signed up for any new magazines, subscriptions or websites, nor did I do any new online shopping, I find the added activity highly suspect. Daily, my Gmail mailbox is bursting at the seams with online magazines, Wayfarer sale notices, home improvement offers, and the growing number of fake 'collector' emails.

Maybe you're seeing an influx of dubious emails as well? I've had a number of fellow artists and students reach out to me asking about emails of "excellent offers" that seem too good to be true. Sadly, they were. Precious time, energy and money can be lost if you fall for them. So, I wanted to take a few minutes and review the precautions I take and the newest scams I've been seeing so you can quickly report them and move on without spending time dealing with these scam companies or scam collectors.

First of all, and most importantly I use a FASO BoldBrush website. One of the reasons I really love working with BoldBrush is because they have a system set up that filters out a great deal of the spam. When I log into my BoldBrush website account I can see the spam emails they caught that I don't have to deal with. I can review them if I want to make sure there is nothing legitimate there and I can send them off to the trash. The volume of spam I would have to tackle if I didn't have BoldBrush's system protecting me is staggering. And when a spam email slips through their protection, I report it to them, and they make sure I never receive an email from that IP address again.

You can see in this image that BoldBrush separates out the spam emails so I can review them.

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Now for a few more examples of scam emails that came through my Gmail account.

Example 1

In the message below, "Jeffrey Downey" has been "on the lookout for some artworks". Notice the plural in the word 'artworks'. Supposedly his email is in regards to his and his wife's anniversary, which is just around the corner. Well, that's just lovely Jeff. You want to buy your wife loads of artwork for your anniversary. How thoughtful of you.

Do you notice the structure of the sentence? Read it out loud and see how awkward you sound saying it. This is your first clue that this email is most likely from a scammer. Why? Because most people type how they speak. People's emails are either very much like or slightly more formal than their normal speech. You usually don't compose a sentence in a way that's difficult to pronounce. (Unless, of course, you are using voice to text, then heaven knows how crazy your email may sound!)

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Your next clue that this is a scam is the words in the following sentence. "I stormed on to some of your works which I found quite impressive and intriguing. I must admit you're quite an impressive job." I'm quite an impressive job? Really. Please do yourself a favor when you think you have an email from a prospective buyer or collector; read it aloud. If you sound silly saying it out loud, it's probably a scam.

The next big clue is in the general premise the email is describing: a person observed his wife looking at my artwork on her computer and so he decided to buy multiple works of mine for their anniversary, which is just days away? Is every man on the planet pretending to garden but actually covertly observing their wives shopping online? They must be, because I have gotten this exact scenario email maybe a hundred times.

Yet another clue: They need me to send them pictures of all of my artwork so that they can decide what they want to buy. Why? My artwork is already visible in my gallery on my website. Anyone who wants to see what I have available and the general price range or exact price of a painting can simply look at the artwork on my website and purchase it. And I'm here to tell you legitimate buyers do exactly that.

They have already lovingly perused your website. A genuine buyer will not waste your time asking you to email photos of what is already listed on your website, unless they are specifically asking for up close, detailed images and a legitimate collector will know the specific title of the specific painting they are considering purchasing... they will not ask for vague images of paintings to consider, especially if they just contacted you through the website where the paintings are clearly displayed.

Did you notice the email never mentions my name? That's another clue to it being a scam. This specific email has undoubtedly been sent to hundreds, if not thousands, of artists in a practice called phishing. The promise of making a huge sale from this email is the bait, and they are trying to hook you, the fish. Remember, they've sent this email out to thousands of artists.

This whole world of scammers preying on artists and other innocent people just trying to make a living makes me livid. But no matter how angry we get, I strongly suggest you don't reply to any of these emails... ever. It doesn't help you to tell them you know that they're a scammer, or to ask them to stop bothering you, or anything like that. The very last thing you want to do is give them any other personal information or contact at all. If you do, you have already gotten hooked on their phishing bait. Yes, they've managed to find an email address which happens to be yours, but that's all they know. They are sending out millions of these to random addresses. They don't know if it is actually you or a valid, working address.

It is difficult to know exactly what each scam is trying to achieve. But, it's a good bet that if I reply to this email, they will now know my email address for sure and that it's a legitimate address. Most likely, they will then use my address to pretend to be me (which has happened before) since anyone can google my legitimate website, scammers can use that to make other scam emails look legitimate. Just imagine getting an email that looks like it's from Artist Tina Garrett, go look at my website, I'm the real deal! I'm offering you a job! Just receive these packages for me. Forward them and I'll pay you, generously. Oh, and I'll put your pay and the fees for shipping all in the same check, plus extra which I need you to also forward to someone else. You've just become my personal money laundromat. Congratulations! Your bank wants you to pay for the fraudulent checks you deposited into your account and any checks you wrote on that deposit.

Or perhaps the scammers are aiming to create the illusion of a relationship with you and then just as they are getting ready to purchase they'll send you a check for double the amount, you know, some clerical error of their secretary's. That's why they now need you to cash the check and send them back the other half. Oh so sorry to inconvenience you. Guess what. Your bank will hold you liable for the fake funds you deposited and sent back to the scammer before they were able to discover the check you deposited from them was a fake.

How do they do it? The scammers have moles that work at the check printing offices so that pallets of blank checks, watermarked and all, just happen to fall into their hands.

The best thing you can do is report these emails to your email provider. You can simply make sure you're blocking the particular email address from ever coming back into your inbox again by using the "Report Spam" button, as shown below. Then move on with your day. Remember, you don't want to engage in anything with them because you're never really sure exactly what the scam they are running entails. No matter what, make sure you're not telling them your name, address, phone number or anything else about your business, especially any bank account information, passwords, or details.

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Example 2

This next example is one from a gentleman named "Mark DeLong". Now, what I like about this one is he puts a red flag in the first four words. He puts his title in parentheses after his name, then the name of his "photography studio" with the symbol indicating his business is registered, trying to lend credibility to himself and his place of business.

As I said before, my strategy of reading these emails aloud, helps me see that it reads like a scam. In today's day and age, no legitimate business is going to speak in fragmented sentences with a bunch of spelling and grammatical errors.

Now, even if this one is legitimate, (I am 99.9% sure it isn't) would I really want to do business with someone who looks to be sending me a scripted email with no personalization? I mean how hard is it to write an email saying, "Hi Tina. I'm Mark DeLong. I'm a director at XYZ company."

The final clue, which may be easy to miss at first is, this email has nothing to do with me or my work, and it quickly shows me that the sender has no idea who I am or what I do. So, I simply report and ignore it.

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I know different email services and cell phones have different buttons to report spam emails. I'd suggest taking a few minutes to Google where to find the report buttons for your service/device, etc. and please, don't be afraid to use them.

Finally, the number one clue: If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Use your critical thinking skills and ask yourself what are the odds that out of all the places in the world, a millionaire is going to contact you out of nowhere? He's not a referral from another collector or friend, he just happened upon you out of the trillions of websites on the web and he wants to buy 12 of your paintings, in a hurry, for his wife's anniversary? Or is this another of the hundreds of spammie scam emails we all receive each week?

I bet you know the answer.

Artists typically get preyed upon because we each hope that someone, someday is going to discover us and validate the years of work we have put into our craft. They're going to tell us that our work is worth money, a lot of money and that we really are good at what we do. Unfortunately, bad people are exploiting our dreams and they are trying to take advantage of our big hearts.

You are a great artist and your work is worth collecting. Focus your energy on making the work you are called to create and getting it in front of the audience that has the most likelihood of falling in love with it. Don't expect any success to fall in your lap like these scammers are betting you do.

Don't answer the email. Don't click anything in the email.

Be safe and be smart. Report and delete, my friends.


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Tina Garrett

FineArtViews Guest Author

PS - This is Clint. I hope you enjoyed Tina's article about potential email scammers. If you're looking for new ways that you can market and sell your art, click here to sign up for your free FASO trial today. Try us free for 30 days and find out for yourself why 15,000 artists have entrusted FASO with their website.

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