The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 19, 2013

Valley artist’s brush with shyster

By Joanne Arbogast

The Daily Item


Everyone dreams of being “discovered,” and artists are particularly susceptible.

When a talented Danville artist received an email from Amanda Gray in Norway seeking to buy his prints, he was excited ... and in the next moment, suspicious.

In broken English, the “Norwegian” wrote: “I am interested in purchasing some of your unique artwork you have in stock right now and their prices for commissioning. I will like to know if you will be shipping to Norway, and you don’t have to worry about the shipment because my freight forwarder will be coming to pick up the order directly from your location and then deliver them to me here in Norway. Let me know if it possible to order them with my U.S. credit card information for payment?”

He quickly responded that he could produce his art in any sizes she wanted, could mat and frame them, could also make canvas wrap prints mounted on stretcher bars and that credit-card purchases would be fine.

His cautious side tossed in another question: How had she discovered his artwork?

Her reply, more suspicious and in even worse English:

“... I want you to know that I was opportune to see your artwork on Facebook through a friend of mind who attended a seminar together, so I will like you to kindly get back to me with your website for reconfirmation or you can likely sent some of the available artwork you have right now in stock and their prices list so as to proceed.”

At this point, the artist Googled “art scams” and found plenty of people who have received similar emails from “Norway.”

“Apparently, it’s just another way to get people to accept fraudulent payments, which you are then responsible for paying back,” the artist said.

But how had the scammer found the artist?

He doesn’t have a website but is listed on a site called Fine Art America, which includes a link “so people can contact me if they wish to purchase any of my art,” he said. “That could be the source.”

A quick look at Fine Art America, which offers membership plans, reveals that a lot of information about the artists is provided to anyone visiting the site. There are artists from all over the Valley listed, along with plenty of their personal information, photos of their artwork and links to their websites and emails.

Fine Art America claims “more than 95,000 living artists and photographers currently offer 2 million images for sale on FineArtAmerica.com — with thousands of new artists and images being added each week.”

All are vulnerable — to scam artists as well as legitimate art buyers and are urged to use caution.

“I just wanted to alert my fellow artists of these scumbags,” the Danville artist said.

n Have you been scammed? If you think you have, contact your local district attorney, police and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection, at (800) 441-2555. Seniors are encouraged to also notify the local Area Agency on Aging office. Let us know so we can help others avoid finding themselves in a similar situation. Send your story to Joanne Arbogast at The Daily Item, 200 Market St., Sunbury, PA. 17801, or jarbogast@dailyitem.com.

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