Welcome to today’s art podcast episode. Today, we’re going to chat about art scams, spoofs, and trolls. Although we are not experts in this field we have dealt with our fair share of it so we will share what we have learned so far.

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The Classic NFT Scam on Instagram and Twitter

Tara – This is something I get at least once a week. Sandra has had someone try to do this to her too.

First things first, unless you are a really well-known artist, why would they be contacting you asking you to sell them an NFT? There are lots of artists already selling NFTs, so they don’t need to do this. In order to create and sell NFTs, you need a digital wallet with some cryptocurrency in it. What they do in this scam is try to give you a link to send you to fake NFT sites that look like the real ones. Once you connect your digital wallet, they empty it.

When Someone Messages You and Says They Like Your Art and Are Interested in Buying

A Few Things to Check That Raise Alarm Bells

  • First, does the person even follow you? If they don’t, they are probably not really interested.
  • Do they specify which piece they like? Or is it a very generic message because they have sent the same message to many people?
  • What is their spelling and grammar like? This is not necessarily a scam, but often the scammy messages are badly written.
  • How long has the person’s Instagram account been active? Go to the three dots near their name and click it, then go to “About This Account” to see how long they have been on Instagram. Note that some scammers will buy old accounts, so an older account is not necessarily genuine.
  • Perform a reverse Google image search on their profile photo. This is when you upload a photo to Google and it tells you where it’s found online. Scammers will pull a profile image from the web or a royalty-free site.
  • If you are going to sell, direct them to your webpage to buy or through a legitimate payment service like PayPal. Nothing is ever foolproof.
  • NEVER send a painting unless the payment has cleared into your bank account.
  • NEVER REFUND AN OVERPAYMENT – it’s almost always a scam. That’s what you tell them if they argue. Instead, use PayPal and send them an invoice that way.
  • If in doubt, leave it out.

When Someone Says They Would Like to Share Your Work on Their Instagram Page for Money

Even though the page may have many followers, these may not be genuine. Before you pay out, see how much engagement they get on each post. Do they receive any genuine comments? How many? Does the amount of engagement relate to the number of followers? Compare this with accounts you know are genuine.

When Someone Messages You or Emails You with an Opportunity

To Exhibit in Their Exhibition (Vanity Gallery or Complete Spoof Troll)

  • Someone offers you the opportunity to exhibit in Milan or another big city, but here’s the catch: You have to pay for it.
  • Some of these galleries will be vanity galleries – pay to show. I also wonder if some of the galleries actually exist. If you pay to exhibit at a gallery abroad, how can you prove it’s really shown?
  • I have also received spoof emails to exhibit in a gallery, and then there’s no follow-up after I reply.

To Feature Your Work in Their Magazine (Vanity Gallery or Complete Spoof Troll)

This is similar to the vanity gallery, but I have also received trolling spoof emails asking me if I would take part in an interview for a magazine. I thought it was fishy, so I emailed the magazine directly and got no response.

To Create Art for Their Company (Troll, Not Actually the Real Company)

A while back, I received an email from someone claiming to be the owner of a company and interested in having me do some work for them. I looked at their website and my art seemed totally wrong for them, so I directly contacted the company owner via the website and Instagram to ask if it was genuine. It wasn’t.

There Are Times When You Think You’re Being Spoofed and You’re Not – Adobe

  • When we were first contacted by someone who said she was working for Adobe, we thought it could be a scam. We checked her out on LinkedIn and then arranged a Zoom call. We didn’t think she would show up, but it turned out it was genuine.
  • Sandra – I once had someone in Malaysia wanting to buy a painting, and I was convinced it was a scam. I told him that too. But it turned out it wasn’t, and I felt so bad.


We have received a few scrappy comments on social media posts in the past. The best thing to do with those is block and delete. One of them said, “This is why all modern art is rubbish.” I do wonder what is wrong with these sad people. I don’t mind if you don’t like my art; just go find something you do like and leave me alone.

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