by Carolyn Edlund
Artists are being targeted by scammers who claim they want to buy art as NFTs. They don’t. They want to rob you.
Today I heard another sad story about an artist who had been approached by a stranger claiming to love their artwork, and asking to buy it as an NFT. Unfortunately, they believed this story, only to discover later they were dealing with a criminal out to steal their money. They were robbed, the perpetrator is gone, and nothing can be done.
This type of theft is rampant, and it often takes place on social media. Instagram, for example, is a platform filled with comments and direct messages to artists from these grifters. They compliment your art in general and say that they want to make a purchase. These people appear out of the blue, and it’s for good reason: they don’t know you or your art. They’re simply blasting out messages to a large number of artists, looking for marks who will respond to them.
How are they scamming artists?
Many artists who are approached know nothing about NFTs or have never sold them. They are flattered, believe they have a potential client, and engage in conversation. At that point, the scammer sets the bait and proceeds through the process of conning you. Don’t know about NFTs? They will help you set up an account so they can buy from you. But you need cryptocurrency (usually Ethereum) to pay the “gas fees” for the supposed transaction. You are instructed to buy and then send crypto to a wallet to make this happen. That’s when they take your crypto from that wallet, immediately transfer it somewhere else, and dump you.
Or, they may pretend to pay you with a check, and that deposit shows up in your bank account. But gee, they actually overpaid by accident. You need to give them a refund, which you transfer to them. A week later, your bank reports that the original check was fraudulent. You’ve been robbed and the customer is nowhere to be found (they are busy scamming other people by this time.)
I’m sure there are many other scenarios where the scammer guides you through a process for the purpose of separating you from your money. These people are clever, relentless and pretend to be trustworthy. And they play psychological games to deceive you.
How can you protect yourself from being targeted by these criminals? Here are a few easy ways to avoid becoming the next victim of a con:
Trust your Spidey sense
Does something seem off or a bit strange about an inquiry? Is this someone you have never heard of before? Are they really eager to make that purchase right now? Do they seem to not really care what they buy from you, want multiples, or suggest a number of pieces of art that they would gladly take? These are all red flags that you are dealing with a scammer.
If the offer raises your hackles and you think it’s not for real, pay attention to your instincts. Anything that seems too good to be true usually is. If you have to ask other people if they think it’s a genuine customer, you can be 99.99999% sure that it is not.
Have a No Contact policy
If someone messages you, emails you or contacts you about an NFT purchase online, stay away. Do not engage in conversation with them. Block them, report them and don’t answer, ever. Don’t give in to the temptation to argue with them. This wastes your time, and they will have confirmation that you received their message and your contact info is accurate. Then they can sell your info on the dark web to other scammers.
Don’t waste space discouraging scammers
Some artists get very mad that they are being solicited to sell NFTs online. They may change their social media profile information to state that they don’t sell NFTs. Or, they might pin a post slamming scammers, hoping to avoid being approached. Does this make any difference? No. Scammers don’t read your profile or posts. And they won’t obey your wishes; these are criminals who send out thousands of messages to anybody and everybody. Use the space in your social profile and feed for more useful purposes instead.
What can you do? Use the settings on your social platform to block messages that contain certain words, like NFT, and you can head off those messages before they reach you.
Help the artist community by telling others
One of the best things you can do to help stop this scourge is to tell other artists what is happening. Warn them about NFT scams. Tell your own story about being approached, or relay information you’ve heard from others who were robbed. Share the link to this article. Let’s get the word out to actively decrease the number of artists who become victims. If nobody responses to these scammers, and there is no money in it for them, they will leave.
What about real NFT sales?
Can artists sell their work as NFTs? Yes, absolutely. Here is an article by an artist who does just that. Artists who choose to sell in the NFT marketplace know what they are doing. They create digital artwork and upload it to legitimate platforms which are trustworthy, and where there is oversight. Scammers can’t take advantage of sellers there, which is why they run their cons on social media or through email.
If you want to sell your art as NFTs, become informed and proactive as a seller in that market. But if you aren’t interested in this type of art sale, stay away. And don’t believe anybody who approaches you to purchase in that manner.
Have you been solicited by NFT scammers? What did you do?
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