Artists: Don't Be Scammed On Social Media

Artists: Don't Be Scammed On Social Media

Have you ever been scammed by someone on social media? It's a really crappy feeling. Well, I have some news for you: you're not alone. Artists worldwide are being scammed daily on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. In this blog post, I will talk about some of the scams that artists are most likely to fall for and how to avoid them. Stay safe out there, artists! We need you around to keep making beautiful things. :-)

How Artists are falling victim to Facebook scams and scams on Instagram

It's no secret that social media can be a breeding ground for scammers. But what many people don't realize is that artists are often targets of these scams.

There are fake profiles on all sorts of social media platforms, and they're usually pretty easy to spot. But sometimes, scammers can be quite convincing. They may reach out to artists, pretending to be interested in their work, and they may even offer to purchase artwork or commission a piece.

But the reality is that these scammers are just looking to take advantage of unsuspecting artists by stealing their information or artwork. They may not even be real people at all! So how can you tell it's a scam and protect yourself from falling victim?

The different types of Facebook scams and scams on Instagram to be aware of:

Non-Traditional Forms of Payment

The overpayment scam involving cashier's checks and money orders and is one of the most popular types of fraud.

Numerous variations are available and are simple to locate online.

They express interest in your art and then offer to buy it with a money order or cashier's check.

The really good ones will give you a strong justification for why they are currently unable to pay using more conventional means (e.g., I'm travelling abroad for work, It's a gift for someone I share a bank account with).

Then they'll ask you to transmit a portion of that money to a third party, like their own "shipping agency." Then you'll learn that the funds supplied to you were actually stolen money, and all of it is now your responsibility.

Very few situations exist where a reliable collector cannot use a standard credit card or Paypal to make an online payment. Avoid this by simply using PayPal invoicing or a shopping cart interface through your social channels or website and deny any obscure forms of payment.

Bad Grammar and Awkward Communication

Many Instagram and Facebook frauds use unusual and generic language that reads awkwardly.

Punctuation may appear in unexpected locations.

A simple "hello," "your name," "I am very interested in the artwork," or "love your work" may be the first words of the messages, followed by request for commission pricing. However, they did not follow your profile or like any of the posts of your artwork.

Sometimes con artists will request that you provide them examples of your work along with the costs.

The simple approach is to point them toward your online store or gallery, as all of this information is prominently displayed on your website.

Seeing Red Flags

Scammers often are bots and will message you their interest but show no indication of exactly which piece they are interested in and sometimes even ask for information you've just posted. If they're savvy, they will send you names, pictures of the artwork, or several pieces of artwork. First off, if they have contacted you out of nowhere and are interested in multiple original paintings, it's probably too good to be true. If they send back interest in pieces with no common ties to each other (a mix of landscape, portrait, and still art, or contemporary and representational art), it should alert you to this being a fake account.

How to spot a spam profile

Here are some ways to spot a fake profile. These are not hard and fast rules. However, the more of these points that add up, the more probable it's a bot or scammer.

  • Read bio. If there are errors and it looks hastily thrown together, it's most likely a bot
  • Minimal posts, but thousands of followers.
  • Only a handful of followers, but following thousands.
  • Obviously fake profile pictures and posts.
  • Bots and fake profiles have become so very savvy that private accounts are not necessarily real any longer.
  • They do not follow or like your posts before sending you a message.
  • They like ALL of your posts and follow only to reach out with a "Hi".
  • They comment to promote, send to, etc., with links.

What can you do as an Artist to protect yourself?

Never give out personal information

It should go without saying. A request for personal data is almost always a huge warning sign, and don't divulge your home address or bank account details. It could be tempting to comply with every request they make for a sale, particularly if the item is expensive. But in 2022, legitimate online sales are the norm and there should be no need for odd requests, especially for collectors!

Ignore fake messages

Ignore scammy messages. If you have red flags, ignore these messages. Bots send so many in a day that they'll likely forget about you quickly. If you have responded and only realize now that it's a scammer, you'll need to block that profile, or they can continue to harass you and monitor your online activity. Don't waste your valuable time with these messages.

Use secure forms of payment

Use only your accepted and secure forms of payment, be it through your online shopping cart or invoice applications like PayPal. It may be tempting to sell that expensive piece, but again, it's 2022, and anyone making you jump through hoops is a scam, period.

How to report a scam

Facebook scam

Follow link to the Facebook support page.

Scam on Instagram

Follow link to the Instagram support page.


So, to recap, never take payment in strange forms, be cautious of obscure shipping requests and never share your personal information. If your gut is telling you something is off, it probably is. Be on the lookout for these red flags, and never let anyone take advantage of you. Keep your head up, be smart about who you interact with online, and know that you're not alone in this.

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