Art Email Scams are STILL a thing. Here's one way to handle them...

A lot of artists in my area have been receiving these emails, so much that our state artists' coalition has called attention to it.

The way artists are scammed through email is the email sender will express interest in a piece or number of pieces the artist has posted somewhere online (named by title in the email) and give some vague compliments and say they want to purchase a piece with a check, and send a check with a hefty overage amount. They also request a lot of personal info from the recipient. If they are successful, once the recipient deposits the check (fake/counterfeit or from something stolen) the sender will take back the overage to get the money before the art is even sent, usually on a cash card or other. Basically the old wire transfer scam but with a modern twist, and with artists for potential prey.

 It is not a fun thing to hear/read/learn about happening to a fellow artist.

I get 1-2 a year as well, the last one I did not ignore, just for funsies, and it was actually fairly easy to handle. I really was just curious to see how long the sender would attempt to play me.

They go a little something like this. (The followup emails I am providing in this post are copies of my actual email texts to one of these scammers)

From: [name] ([name]
Subject: [Name of Piece] 

My name is [name] from [location in the U.S. to make artist feel comfortable]. 
I actually observed my wife
has been viewing your website on my laptop and i guess she likes your piece
of work, I'm also impressed and amazed to have seen your various works too,
: )  You are doing a great job. I would like to receive further information
about your piece of work and what inspires you.

I am very much interested in the purchase of the piece (in subject field
above) to surprise my wife. Kindly confirm the availability for immediate
Peace and Blessings (or Thanks and Best Regards, this may vary),
[first name]

The most recent version of this email I personally received was about the sender's wife viewing
one of my nudes. To make matters more humorous, it is one of my nudes that has been censored from places it has been booked to show twice. So of course I was suspicious about his "wife" being interested in it.

I sent this reply back:
Hello Mr. [first name],

If you would like to purchase at this time I will send you a link where you may view all pricing details and purchase securely for the protection of both buyer and seller.
You will need to provide your real name, a valid bank account, shipping address, and phone number (for insurance purposes) to the payment collecting agent.
 Thank you.  

The best part of the reply sent above is that there is nothing untruthful about it. If he had said "sure, go ahead" I would have directed him to an online shop where he could purchase the painting-only for the exact amount stated in the listing and any shipping fees- and then per my online shop's policies I would have to make sure I could ship to his location or the sale would be cancelled. 

This is what he sent back:

Hi Amanda,
Thanks for the message, I must tell you I am very much interested in the immediate purchase of the piece to surprise my wife. If you'd like to know, I'm relocating to the Philippines soon and our anniversary is fast approaching. So I'm trying to gather some good stuff to make this event a surprise one. I am buying yours as part of gifts to her (quickly before someone else grabs it). I'm okay with the price, I think it's worth it anyway, so I'll be sending a check.
As regarding shipping, you don't have to worry about that in order not to leave any clue to my wife for the surprise. as soon as you receive and cash the check, my shipping agent (who is also moving my personal effect) will contact you to arrange pick-up.
 I would have handled this much differently but, at the moment, am on training voyage (on the North Atlantic Ocean) to Russia with new hires who are fresh from graduate school. I would have come to purchase the piece myself but won't be back for another couple of weeks.
[first name]
PS: In the meantime, kindly forward your full name (you want the check payable to) cell phone no. and contact address (preferably for fedEx not P.O box) where a check can be mailed to, so I can get the check prepared and have it mailed out to you asap
If you notice from above emails.... I never told him the price in any of them even though his reply acts as if I did. He says he is sending a check, even though I have asked him to purchase online.
I use P.O. Box and checks CAN be sent to them also. Mail that does not go in the box gets held and a notice is given to the boxholder to claim it, and sign if signatures are needed.
He is asking for a lot of personal info he would really not need for simply purchasing an item.

My last reply:

sorry to disappoint you.
If you would like to purchase I will ONLY send you a link where you may view all pricing details and purchase securely for the protection of both buyer and seller.
He did not contact me further.

And I did not have to lie about how I do business, or reveal anything else. The other interesting thing was, the link to my online shop is not secret. Had he actually visited my website he would have found the links anyway... so this email address was pulled from another source, perhaps a blog post or somewhere where I had the painting he cited posted.

Meh... whatever the reason for contact, that is one way to deal with these emails IF you choose to respond to them. Ignoring works too. Either way, good luck fellow artists (and everyone else out there) and beware of anyone who is testing your intuition; due diligence and covering your butt is not unprofessional :)

For more examples of people trying to get money through emails to artists-
check out