Saturday, January 13, 2007

A Warning to Artists

Watch out for a worrying scam directed at artists (and principally female artists) selling work over the internet.

The operation seems to go like this:
The artist is approached for details of artworks for sale and after a number of e.mails an offer is made to purchase a number for a private collection. The payment will be by bankers draft which appears to be watertight when it arrives. Arrangements are made for pick up by a carrier company. The only wrinkle is that the bankers draft or cheque appears to be made out for too much. The artist is asked to return the overpayment by Western Union. Of course, the cheque bounces or is refused because it is stolen.

The wise artist does not do anything with their artwork or make repayments until any cheque has been safely cleared.

Carlotta Barrow of Waterside Studios in Swanage was too wise to fall for the scam but she was able to make one or two useful observations. The con artist went to a lot of time and trouble to set up the mark ( grooming). The closer to the deadline the more anxious and agressive he became. He had obviously gone to a lot of trouble to make the operation look believable (except for a wildly inappropriate name).

It looks as though something like fourteen artists have been approached this way in Dorset. It is probable that names are being selected from the Dorset Art Weeks website.

If you are approached in this way inform Dorset Trading Standards and, if money has changed hands, the police.

Be on your guard but don't lose any sleep

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