Recently I had the kind of email that every wildlife artist loves: a request from a buyer to buy two original paintings. Excellent news… except my immediate impression was that it was a scam.
It could have been plausible. The polite enquiry came through my website and mentioned two pictures by their correct titles. The “buyer” mentioned his city, suggested he would like the paintings for his new apartment and was checking to see that they were still available. He asked about shipping costs. All OK so far.
So what aroused my suspicions? Firstly the name given was typically English but the email’s grammar made it clear that English was not the writer’s first language. He asked for the prices, but those are already on my website. The city he mentioned could have been English but there are many cities of that name across the world. The general tone of the email just didn’t feel right.
Obviously none of that was conclusive, but I typed the name and email address into a search engine to see if anything arose. All clear there, so I replied on the basis that the enquiry could be genuine.
I confirmed the prices and gave a few more details about the paintings. I asked for the buyer’s full address so I could work out the shipping costs and asked how he had discovered my website. I also specified that payment was via Paypal.
The prompt reply confirmed my scam suspicions. Again the tone of the email was wrong. None of my questions were answered and no address was given, but he wanted my full name, address and phone number so he could allegedly arrange for a cashier cheque as payment.
I replied that I only accept payment through Paypal via my website. (This would mean he would have to pay in advance and supply a name and address, without me supplying any personal information. Any financial irregularities would be dealt with by Paypal rather than me.) Not surprisingly, I did not hear from him again.
So I publish this as a warning to my fellow artists. I hope you sell well online, but beware: an enquiry may not be everything it seems.