Art Scams
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(posted on 18 Oct 2017)

Yet another variation of the art shipping scam:

Name: Vanit Chirathivat
Email Addrdess:

I just saw your portfolio/contact information online and i so much appreciate your works and would be interested in making a direct purchase from you for my personal use,so please let me know if that's possible,also thank you so much for your time taken to read my message and i patiently await your response.

This seems like a reasonable initial contact request.  The grammar is a bit off and there are a few typos but I see those kinds of errors in legitimate messages too.  The phrase "making a direct purchase from you for my personal use" seems a bit odd and sounds like they don't want the artist to direct the emailer to their gallery or agent who would likely be much more savvy about spotting scams.  I think that many artists would reply to this message and there is not much harm in doing so other than that the artist should be very careful about providing many details about themselves.  The artist should only provide information that they already have on their website or would feel comfortable being on their website.

After the artist responds, we then get to see the shape of the scam in the next message:

Name: Vanit Chirathivat
Email Addrdess:

Thanks you so much for your response to my enquiry its deeply appreciated,i reside in Ontario but i'm currently out of town at the moment on a project,please find listed below what i am interested in,i would so much appreciate it if i could get further information's as regards them and please do let me know if i made a correct choice and if its available for sale for my personal use as earlier said and also do let me know how much it costs

[Removed title of 1 painting]

Secondly as regards shipping of the items,i could take care of that by myself as i have a private shipment broker that could come over to your place and pick up the items from your as soon as you have been paid fully and funds have been made available to you at hand,the shipment broker i intend to use has some huge chunk of furniture's and fittings to pick up for me close to you,so i would be needing your full mailing address and phone numbers inclusive of mobile number to pass to the shipment broker for logistics,alternatively i would like to know from you if

1)You would still prefer to ship the works yourself?

2)You would be okay and fine with me arranging the shipping/pick up through the private shipment broker that i have worked with in the past?

And Finally as regards payment,it would be made available to you on my behalf in form a certified cheque or money order drawn in cdn funds by my business associate that owes me,also please note that as soon as you have received the payment and it has been cleared by your bank and funds have been made available to you,i would then need you to please deduct your own funds for your works and then keep the remainder of the funds with you or alterntively use it for shipping or additional purchases from you,so that as soon as that's done you would then hand over the items for shipment to the shipment broker that would come and pick up the items from your place if you prefer pick up,Also please note that the payment and funds that would be made available to you would be inclusive of funds for shipping of your items and for the shipment broker.
So in order for the funds to be made available to you the following information's would be needed from you

Names to be written on the payment
Full mailing address
Phone numbers inclusive of mobile

So thanks so much and patiently look forward to hearing from you soonest.


The red flags spotted:

  • Focused mostly on the shipping and certified cheque, not the artwork.
  • A very long and complicated transaction process involving 4 parties.
  • Willing to overpay to have you pay their shipper.
  • often in such a message there is a discussion of how the shipper is paid but not in this case
  • The first paragraph talks about "please find listed below" when there is only one painting listed.  Obviously, this is just a form message that the scammer fills in the name of the painting.  In this case, it wasn't even by name, just a URL to the painting on the website.

In general, the pattern that we are seeing from these scammers is that they start with a short and legitimate looking message showing a general interest in the artist's works.  Once the artist responds, the scammer then layout enough of the details of the scam that someone with some experience with these messages will see right through them.  Unfortunately, a lot of artists don't have this experience.  We have heard from a few artists who have followed through on these scams but have ultimately stopped before they lost money or artwork.