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ART SCAM! How artists can avoid being scammed

Updated on November 21, 2010

Uh oh, I hated to be the one to burst his bubble...

I have been hearing about different versions of the "Nigerian scam" and "advance payment scam" that target artists.

Today, I heard from an aspiring artist friend who was very excited that someone had seen his artwork online and wanted to buy it! This would be wonderful, except - yes, you guessed it - it was a scam. I hated to be the one to tell him. These scammers do more than steal artist's money - they also cause artists wrongly to lose confidence in themselves.

I already have several art-related pages on this site, and decided that a page with information for artists to be able to protect themselves from these e-mail scams would be a good idea.

Students doing a "report" on an artist

I've been asked by some students about my life, with the student saying they need the information for a school report, and would I help them.

I've since learned that sometimes these might not really really students, but that it could be a phishing scam (they want to get your inside information, like where you were born, your mother's maiden name, your birth date, pet's names, etc) - because these are the things often used as security questions.

So, if you get questions from a "student," either do your research into their school, make sure it really exists, talk to their teacher, etc (even then, be wary)...but be careful of giving out any precise information. It could really be a student, but on the other hand, we have to be careful. It bears some hallmarks of a possible scam, because it is flattering to have a student want to do a report on you.

A good response is to ask for more information on the report. Where they go to school, and/or the email address of their teacher. In short, check it out.

Awards and Grants that you didn't request

If you receive an email or letter out of the blue, telling you about an art award or grant, and you know you didn't request this information, be very wary.

Normally, an artist needs to research grants and awards opportunities for himself.

Think about their motivation: people don't go to the work and effort of emailing all the artists they can, to let them know they could win an award or grant.

Wait and do your own research on the offer before you get excited and act on the offer. Don't even click any links in the email, because there could be malicious code. Type in the website address yourself. Do a web search, find out if any art friends have ever heard of the organization.

Some are valid, but require an "application fee" for your grant. Is it really an application fee, or is this just some kind of artist's lottery, masquerading as a fine art grant?

Scams Targeting Artist Links

I've found several really good online references about scams against artists, and many have the writer/artist's firsthand experience included.

Drop me a line...

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    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago


      I am an artist, I have had this email a few times, I think it is a scam, have you seen it before?

      Good day,

      The images on your website are so fascinating and so vivacious,looking

      at each piece of work i can easily see that you added so much

      dedication in making each work come out to life, unfortunately i lost

      the website where i first saw your work but i was able to save your

      email address.

      I am writing you because i need your assistant to get back to

      your website so as to beable to retrieve the details of your work that

      interest men or send me images of some of your new works.



    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @Darla Dixon: I participated in September 2010 (Chianciano Award for Digital and Photographic Art). The fee was 420 Euros!! VERY expensive compared to other competitions!! The prize was a plastic trophy. As if!!! The fee this year is 1000 Euros!!! If the organizers gave cash prizes to the winners (most of whom probably spent every last dime to attend), the event might live up to its name. There will be NO cash prizes this year either. Do the math, 100+ participants x 1000 Euros. Somebody's making a LOT of money off the backs of young, ambitious artists. Participating in this show will not significantly advance anybody's career either.

    • Darla Dixon profile image

      Darla Dixon 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I don't know anything about that particular award, but if you have a feeling in your gut that it might not be legit, I would take a pass on it, especially if there is an "entrance fee" that is more than what you feel would be necessary for processing an entry. What would this award mean to you, anyway? Since it's a pretty unknown award, would even winning it even translate into more art income for you, or are they appealing to ego? If there is a cost and it appeals to ego, I'd keep walking.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Interesting article. Pl tell about Chianciano International Art Award 2012, is this a scam or real worth participating?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: I think you could be right about the images Otto. Many angles here for them to be dishonest. In Shanghai I saw cameras coming out with huge lens and right up close to the artwork. No copyright adhered to there ..I guess we can only tell others to be careful as the internet cops..if there are any such thing... doesn't seem to be interested. I reported this web site to a phishing site and they saw no issues?? Cheers

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Otto Good questions..

      My concern is this website is so who are they? While they have a privacy policy etc, does it means anything if they are not accountable. Please do go for a look at them at shocaseme. com and do tell me if you think i am just being pedantic. They have answered my queries by e-mail telling me I am being unfair to question them but yet still stay concealed. Wouldn't you think they would want to account for themselves if being questioned. I am web aware and therefore don't put my full birth date, legal name, maiden name etc on my web pages or Facebook or LinkedIn although as an artist and especially an author I need to offer enough information for people to want to buy my books online. Questions about influences, where you were born etc done in several different ways and then the social media info give out a lot of personal info and I am not adverse to this as I have written two art books, one on the personal creative journey. Call it a gut feeling with this lot. As they don't post what you upload who knows how many have given them their data.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @Darla Dixon: Q for ddixonart: What would you consider a low rank on Alexa? (it all depends on the target audience. Irrelevant web traffic might get you a good ranking on Alexa, but is meaningless).

      Q's for Lynn: What is "personal" information? What is known about you from other web sites (such as facebook) and are they asking for more info than what you are already revealing on various websites and social networks? For others to properly evaluate and comment on the original question, links would be helpful, such as their facebook page and website.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @Darla Dixon: Many thanks for the reply. Others say this also however the artists they list have info on where they were born, what year, what education etc..I think you can get a a lot of personal information on someone if you ask the right questions. These guys are persistent, a little here and a little there, especially if they get on your social networks. They contacted me by email and my concern is that the owner of the domain is hidden when you do a domain search. I wonder why are they so secretive when they ask such personal questions of the artists? I don't want to be listed with them as I have my own websites... I just want to warn others to be careful.

    • Darla Dixon profile image

      Darla Dixon 6 years ago

      @anonymous: That does seem somewhat questionable, but it depends. What kind of information are they asking for? If they are only asking for information that is readily available from Google, I don't think it's a big deal. If they aren't asking for payment of any kind or a Social Security number, it might be okay. They might be taking names and addresses in order to sell them to people who want a targeted mailing address. You can look up the site on to see its page rank. If it has a low page rank then it's not worth having your information/link listed anyway.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Hi Darla

      I am wondering what you would think about a website which offers to shocase artists and has a facility to upload photos, but offers no password, and asks for personal information. Next they e-mail you for for more info, ask for a personal photo and send more requests such as connect on LinkedIn etc..The web site has no address etc except for a gmail account...even the domain owner information was hidden when I did a search. It looks a great website and they do have genuine artists onboard, I checked, but not a lot, however this could be to make to them look authentic? When I asked on their Facebook page why they give no personal information and said I though artists should be wary, they deleted my post and e-mailed me [ with a gmail address] so say that I am being unfairly critical. They said nothing to ally my concerns, and still remain anonymous and just signed it Web Staff.

      My concern is how many artist are giving them personal information without any security..

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @meloyello: my friend won an award from them and received a packet they say that they are not an organization on the site just a listing service.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very informative. There is little to add to this. I've been getting inquiries on my own networks about the subject, and am referring my artist friends to this blog.

      I might want to add that whenever I receive a suspect e-mail, I usually answer with info on how to obtain a print of my work (to see if they really like it) - I would then deduct the price of the print from the original if they still want to buy it. Then I direct them to my art listing escrow service. Strangely enough, I then never hear back from them ;)

    • Darla Dixon profile image

      Darla Dixon 8 years ago

      [in reply to meloyello] Sorry, I'm not familiar with them. Ask them to give you names of some prior participating artists that you can call. Call several of them, if anything seems 'off,' I would avoid it.

    • profile image

      meloyello 8 years ago

      just wondering if this was legit? didn't want to enter [$15]. im skeptical bcuz there arent rules listed or judges names, etc. seems fishy. see site here.