Lately I’ve been getting a slew of people trying to scam me over Instagram via direct messages. I figured I’d share some red flags of what to look out for. First off, what are they trying to do? Usually it involves paying for something via check. The check will not only bounce, but they will have “accidentally” written it for much more than your agreed upon cost, and they will request you send them back the difference. Another scam involves the same general gist but with money transfers and sometimes a third party. They may do the Paypal route and just get your info so they can try to hack your account. There are so many methods, these are just a few.
So how do you spot them? It can be confusing for an artist that hasn’t encountered this before. I personally get legitimate commissions for pet portraits and sales of my existing art through direct messages, so I weed through every request to see that it’s legit.
Since I do pet portraits, 90% of the scams I receive are related to that. Here are the red flags:
-The person speaks in broken English
-The formatting of their message looks weird like they copied it from another document

-They usually want the drawing for their “son” or “daughter”

-Sometimes it’s for their husband and they insist on paying by check so that their husband won’t see the transaction as it’s a surprise

-They often want the person's name written in the art

-They seem unconcerned about the price. They either don’t ask, or they offer some flat rate “$400 if that’s not too stiff”

-They refer to wanting a commission on their “pet” without specifying the type of pet

-They may then go on to say the pet likes this or that and keeps the person company

-For some reason (in my experience), Mickey seems to be a common name for the pet when you probe for more info

-Once they send photos for reference, upon a reverse image search it comes up with hundreds of results, or seems to be attached to some random person whose name doesn’t match

These scams can also apply to human portraits and people wanting to buy an existing piece of your work. I’ve had people request purchasing a piece that is clearly digital, and when I inform them of this saying that I can sell them a print for $25 they immediately say they want it much much much bigger (like bigger than prints or frames are really made). They’ll want it to be the “centerpiece of the room”.
Another red flag can be caught by looking at the person’s profile. Do they have any posts? Is it more than like 5? How many followers do they have? These are usually throw-away accounts that they make. They may put the effort to post a couple of photos and follow 200 people since maybe 40 of them will inevitably follow back and make them look sort of legit. Also, do they follow you? If not, that’s a huge red flag since someone who loves your work so much would usually follow you.
I’m sure there are dozens more scams out there, but these are the ones I’ve personally encountered. Stay safe out there my friends.
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