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Criminals Target Artists Via Overpayment Scams

by Brett M. Christensen

If you sell art online, keep an eye out for overpayment scams.  These scams are designed to trick you into receiving dodgy cheques, money orders, or bank transfers and sending part of the funds back to the scammer.

Here’s how these scams work:

The scammer, posing as a customer, will contact you via email or social media to ask about one of your artworks.

Once you reply, the scammers will express interest in buying the artwork and agree on the price.

The scammers then send a cheque or money order for the artwork or instead transfer the funds directly to your bank account. However, the amount sent will be for substantially more than the specified selling price.

The scammers invent some excuse for this overpayment and ask you to send the balance to a third-party via a wire transfer service.
They may claim that the extra funds are to pay the fees of an agent or interior decorator who will handle the pickup and installation of the artwork.  Or, they may insist on using their own courier or delivery company and claim that the extra funds are to cover these shipping costs. They may even claim that their “secretary” made an error and ask you to send back the extra amount.

Of course, any money you send will go back to the scammers as cash, laundered and pretty much untraceable.

These scammers may be very convincing so, not wanting to miss out on an art sale, you may redirect the extra funds as requested.

But, later, you’ll find that your bank has dishonoured the cheque or money order. In some cases, the bank may actually have cleared the funds but discovers later that the check or money order is a forgery or was stolen. Or the funds may have been transferred from a bank account compromised via a phishing scam or malware attack.

This type of money laundering scheme is very common.  In fact, everyone who sells items online should be aware of how these scammers operate.

Be wary of any deal in which the buyer wants to send you more than the agreed price and have you wire the extra funds to a third-party.

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Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer