Having the most effective art directory on the Internet has its downside. Our high listing on search engines and general use by a wide range of visitors also has the effect of attracting services of dubious value as well as outright scams designed to rob us. Adding them up since September, 32 artists have written to mention peculiar offers they have been made for paintings displayed on their websites. Yesterday's letter from Constance Hartle of Juneau, Alaska, tells the story:
"An online buyer agreed to purchase a painting for $250. They then mailed a cashier's check for $4,000. Acknowledging their mistake, they asked me to send, via Western Union, the remainder to the shippers. When I wrote back, they decided to buy an additional few paintings to make the sale up to $1,000. Well, the check turned out to be counterfeit, but if I hadn't queried it, and had merely deposited it, and sent the change on my own check, I would have been out $3000. Normally it might take as long as 12 days for a check to clear. It's pretty goofy, but the prospect of someone wanting to make a purchase does cloud the mind."
Constance Hartle makes a good point as to why artists are easily scammed. Our ego is stroked when we get contacted by potential buyers. We would not be making art if we did not think it was salable.
If you do get contacted by potential buyers, beware of the danger signals. A sign of a scam is a cashiers check in an amount greater than you requested.
Your protection? Open a free PayPal account and insist that potential buyers pay directly into that account. Sure, PayPal will take a percentage off the top, but you are protected and potential scammers will have no possibility of gaining your personal information.