Don’t Fall for NFT Scams

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.

 

Art NFT scams

 

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.

You might get baited into one of their “customer service” cons where you are routed to a scammer call center in another country. These people work in teams, pretending to work for an art sales platform, a credit card company or other service provider. They seem legit, and even have “managers” who will talk to you as part of the con. Want to watch how these people manhandle their marks and steal from them? Pleasant Green is a YouTube channel that exposes scammers and how they work. Check it out here; it’s an education to learn how these ripoffs happen and how to avoid them.

Another common scam is where the customer pretends 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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Comments

  1. Yes, I’ve contacted by many NFT scammers. I knew to never consider it but I usually respond, because I am polite. Obviously that was a HUGE mistake as I learned in this article. I’ll see if I can block DMs w “NFT” in the text. Thank you.

    • You will definitely save the most time and effort by blocking certain words and also blocking and deleting messages. I’m glad you weren’t being deceived by these criminals!

  2. Ed Halliwell says

    I am a social media manager – and this is CONSTANT! I see these type of scammer comments as comments on both posts and messages on Instagram. 100% agree with your article!

  3. Bridget Anderson says

    This is so helpful!!! I get these type of messages all the time and wasn’t sure what an NFT really was!

  4. I can’t stand these NFT people – so much spam! I appreciate your article I was using space on my profile to say “No NFTs” — you are right they probably don’t even read my profile

    • I’m sure they are using bots to send out thousands of messages. And no, they don’t read your profile, or care anything about your art. They want to relieve you of your money as fast as possible – period.

  5. Yes, I have been contacted by people who came up with offers that were to good to be true, so I did my research and opened an account on OpenSea. Then I told these scammers that any purchase would have to go through OpenSea. One of them “agreed” that this would be the safest way. Then he sent me a copy of a fake mail from OpenSea saying that due to transfer issues I would have to pay the gas fee. Because I had read all about selling NFTs on OpenSea, I knew that the buyer pays the gas fee, so I did not fall into his trap. I also spotted a tiny spelling error in OpenSea’s mail address in the fake mail. All I can say is that you have to do a lot of research before selling NFTs. Some people!

  6. Yes, I faced many NFT scammers who came from Instagram. To refrain from those scammers, I suggest some ways I obtained. First, advise that ‘Art-Lover’ purchase your NFT artwork from a legitimate platform like OpenSea, even if you don’t have a listing of NFT artwork there! Remember, they will never check it 🙂 Only they will say, ‘I do not trust such a platform’ or something like that. They usually suggest a platform to list the NFT they trust. But in my experience, I noticed it’s dangerous. You will never find details about their NFT selling policies, T&C, FAQ, etc.
    Some scammers say they buy NFT directly from you, not from any NFT art gallery. I have a painting listed as NFT in the Blue to Black Gallery of South Africa, and I suggest a scammer purchase my artwork from that gallery. He stepped backward and said, I want to purchase from you, not from any art gallery, because I have to spend extra for gallery commission. Instead, I shall pay Gas Fees for you.

    I faced NFT scammers five times, and the way I chose was work fine.

    • Hi Amar, I’m glad you never got scammed, but you also did not make sales. What was the benefit of taking the time to have conversations with these people when you sold nothing?

      • Yes Carolyn, you are right. I didn’t make any sales and spent a few times, but I gained experience in how those scammers work and how someone can override such a situation.

  7. Elizabeth Emily
    Hi Your artwork popped up on my explorer and truth
    be told it’s such an amazing pieces of arts. I certainly would
    love to purchase your artworks as NFT, please would you mind selling them to me?

    You sent
    Hi Elizabeth or Jason, You are very welcome to purchase any of my paintings and you can use them as NFT’s If you wish to do that please get in touch.

    Elizabeth Emily
    This are the ones I want to purchase from you for a start as NFTs, I’d love to buy them in NFT from/copies, they are high on the stock market, I’d love to buy each piece for 10,000 dollars

    You sent
    Most of these paintings are sold, but a few are still available, so you are welcome to buy them as paintings, then you can convert them to NFT as you wish. I am happy to send you any image for $10000 free of delivery charge.

    Elizabeth Emily
    Non-fungible token
    They are digital asset that are traded with crypto currencies and are guided by smart contracts. NFTs are quite easy to make, It requires a well taken picture and registering on an NFT market and paying a little gas fee and listing it. Thats all quick and easy. You’ll register on an NFT website to enable you have an account which you can be able to sell your artwork for the rest of your life with a high price. Once you are done registering your account on the NFt website. You will have to pay your gas fee or activation fee for your account to be active for you to be able to upload your artwork for sale on the NFt website. Once you upload your artwork. I will make payment to you and once you confirm the payment, before the NFt website can let me have access to the artwork am purchasing from you okay.
    Did you understand what I explained?

    You sent
    What a load of rubbish. There is nothing to stop you buying my painting then running thru this NFT process you are clearly familiar with. I have no wish to take on some idiotic idea full of risk.

    Elizabeth Emily
    This are the proof that I have successfully built a business on the platform

    You sent
    Give me a reason why you cannot put a painting thru thru the NFT process once you have bought it from me.

    Elizabeth Emily
    I have pending collections on there as we speak correctly so you don’t have to worry about that okay

    You sent
    That is not an answer.

    Elizabeth Emily
    First of all register your self then upload your artworks okay. [LINK REMOVED]
    Click on it and register okay.

    You sent
    Something very fishy when you are not willing to upload a painting. What are you scared of.

    Elizabeth Emily
    Are you interested in the business or not

    You sent
    As an artist I create paintings and sell them. As I know nothing about NFT I do not wish to risk such a new venture. However if you are so sure of NFT I suggest you select one painting, pay me half the value, i.e. $5000 then I will go ahead with the NFT and later on once we see where we are going you can pay the other %50 price of $5000. and I will then send you the painting or whatever you wish with the NFT.

    Elizabeth Emily
    A legit platform were I purchase artwork as NFT no fraudulent is very quick and easy to make
    Register and mint your work then get back to me so I can have access to purchase them and make payment to you immediately okay

    You sent
    Send me $5000 then I would know this idea was safe, otherwise get lost.

    Elizabeth Emily
    It seems we can’t do this deal
    Since you don’t want to register then we can’t get it done successfully

    You sent
    If you are not prepared to put your money where your mouth is then it seems I am unable to trust you.

    Elizabeth Emily
    I give you my words is very secure and reliable no one has ever complain about me
    So you don’t have to worry about that okay

    You sent
    How can you be trusted. Is Elizabeth Emily really a bloke called jasonmacdonald29

    Elizabeth Emily
    Yes, I’m from Brasil but I live in Houston Texas, we’re you from?

    You sent
    Hi Jason, I am easy to find as there is only one John Stoa in UK, just ask Google.

    Elizabeth Emily
    Alright I understand.
    Click on it and register and let’s proceed there’s nothing to worry about okay.

    You sent
    I need to know who you are before we can do business together. Can you be found on Facebook, Linkedin, and do you have a website.

    Elizabeth Emily
    I’m normally known as Elizabeth and I only work on Instagram, and [LINK REMOVED] is were I purchase artwork from
    This is were all my costumer use to upload there artwork as NFT, I have pending collections on there as we speak correctly

    You sent
    I think you are a scammer hiding behind a made up name. I have no intention of working with you. Do not send any more messages.

    • Thanks John for sharing the convoluted (and ridiculous) conversation between yourself and a scammer who tried to link you to a fraudulent NFT website where your money would be stolen. There were many red flags here. This is a great example for others who get roped into conversations with scammers.

      • Coen van Hall says

        I have been approached by a woman that is out in the open on Facebook. With lots of art followers. She is open about the fact that she is in NFT’s. She guided me through the new world of NFT, and paid for the works. Then my money got stuck, but I was helped by her and the platform, after paying another 700 dollars to guide the amount of about 7000 dollars to metamask. (some of the money wasn’t transferred, but the major part was there). From Metamask my money got stuck. I couldn’t transfer the moeny. Now they ask me to transfer 0,85 ETH, some 2700 dollars, which I will get back (..) to check out if I’m a trustworthy client, as I did something wrong, trying to transfer money, when I wasn’t suppose to. So they have to check If I’m not a robot. I decided that I would go through, with advice from an expert. But sunday I went to an exhibition in my home town, speaking to an artist, which was scammed for about 500 dollars ( I’m in it for 5 times that amount). They organized a group of scammed artists together, to see what they can do. I decided that a loss of 2700 dollars is a hard lesson learned. I do not understand where and how I was scammed, as this woman has hundreds of befriended artist, some of who I know, and will approach. To ask them and to warn them. I was the one who chose the platform, and the money is still waiting for me (NOT) at metamask. I want to call in an expert to check if tyhat money is real, I do not know how they set it up. Leaving me in doubt how this could be possible. May be you have some suggestions?

        • In my opinion, the woman was a scammer, and your money is gone. Now she wants to take you for an even greater amount. These people are smart and relentless, and obviously she is a liar. Don’t believe anything she says. Don’t pay anything more, or you will lose it also.

  8. So I was offered a large sum to purchase three pieces and the money amount was stated. I looked the person up and she works at Don Clarkson? I am in Ireland and this is all double Dutch to me! I guess if it sounds to good to be true it is ti good to be true!!

    • Hi Louise, I’m not sure if you are being scammed, but anyone could claim to be this person. Just watch for red flags that indicate fraud. Have the customer use a credit card through your shopping cart, and not some other way to pay that she dictates. That would be an indication that things are not right.

  9. Shared this article on the FineArtAmerica forums in a thread about this very subject. I hope it helps to prevent my fellow artists from being scammed. These scammers are using the standard universal scam methods with a crypto currency twist.

    Recently my husband was almost scammed over a classified ad vehicle sale by the ‘fraudulent overpayment cashiers check’ scam, and my mom just lost over 10 thousand dollars to the fake Geek Squad refund and recovery scam.

    People! please beware! it is a sad fact of life nowadays that we are better off not trusting anyone who hasn’t earned that trust.

    Thank you Carolyn for this great article and for caring!

    • Thank you for sharing this article, Shelli. I’m so sorry to hear that your family has lost money to these criminals. As you said, it a sad fact of lie, and everyone needs to be aware and cautious.

  10. Esther Jeong says

    Hi! I’m an amateur artist posting my artworks on artstation.com.
    I just got an email from NFT scammer(suggesting $3000 each artwork) and I almost trusted them because I have no knowledge about NFT or any type of cryptocurrency.
    And there’s no article about NFT scams targeting artists written in my native language(Korean).
    You really saved me! Thank you for the great article.

  11. Tammy Packwood says

    I had someone contact me through instagram wanting a commission. I told them only payment I would accept was etransfer. They tried to tell me their bank account doesn’t support that. They wanted to send me a mobile check. I said no etransfer only and now they haven’t responded

  12. Glad I saw this post – an NFT scammer messaged me on Instagram offering to buy 6 images at £2500 each. I mean, my photos are good but no one on Getty images or on my website has ever offered me anything like that.

    I reported and blocked the scammer…

  13. Brittany Morgan Bruno says

    I was approached on special media about a lady wanting to paint my photo . She said she had to pay me for legal reasons however , she would have to send me a check , she didn’t want my account number or anything , just my bank name and my name . I asked what company she worked for and she said NFT … idk if I can trust it .

  14. how do I research if they are scamming me two people have approached me one wants ro buy 4 art pieces at 6 etherum approx value $21000 ×4 = $84 000 which when one converts to a shit load of money in south African rands its life changing but on the site for nft I have to pay some thing called gass fee is this a scam or something just unreal

  15. Interesting article… Last year I resisted a very large offer for 2 works. Unknown buyer, I was asked if I had an account (NTFs), I did so the buyer had no hand in helping me set-up an account. I only had to upload the images and gas them! I could not see where the scam was set but my instinct told me that the problem/consequence would present itself, post sale/purchase! Was I right thinking it was potentially a scam?

    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Miles. Since you did not present an opportunity for the scammer to “help” you with the gas fees, there was most likely an alternative way for them to take your money. If not, they would simply step away. I agree with your instincts that this was not a real purchase. People simply do not buy that way.

  16. This happened on DeviantArt. Some character asked if my artwork was mine and then offered to buy specific digital paintings as NFTs–five such examples for $4000.00. She instructed me to got to the blockchain website (beginning with “Ether”). This was before I realized for sure this person was a bad actor (or actress). I had tried to explain I have nothing to do with NFTs or AI but she went back to her request to buy those items. I knew for sure then I was dealing with a scammer and blocked her messages. Forewarned is forearmed. It is bad enough I have encountered similar scams: like a client will supposedly pay me 2500 and I am to send 2000 to some so called artist. Or, then again, some “mother has a birthday party for her son. Father is going to send a check for 300 dollars to me but makes a mistake and makes the check for 3000. Meanwhile, I am to deposit the check and send back 2700. What a shame to know these characters lurk on platforms such as DeviantArt. Bad enough they infest Facebook and Instagram, too. Please note: I left Artstation also mainly because I had had enough of schemes such as the ones I just described.

    • Question: I am really in need of a site to use for a portfolio. You say you left Artstation because of the scammer element. I just left a comment on this article a couple of weeks ago about an NFT scammer who found me there. What I need to know is: if I am aware of the scams, can’t I just go on using Artstation as a place to display my works? I tried creating my own portfolio on my own domain, using WordPress, but the host, IONOS, turned out to be running their own scammy process of hooking in customers with affordable cheap hosting and domain registration, but after 2 months, I got a letter telling me the price of my hosting was to be increased by 200% in 30 days. I also found that their customer support was nonexistent, and I had too many problems trying to make the site work, since I had been a web designer more than 20 years ago, but things had advanced so much since then, I needed to take a crash course in how things worked in the 2020s before I’d have any hope of a portfolio that worked.

      I love Artstation’s portfolio creator, loved it so much I wept for joy. It functions for free, but if I want to make my design stand out once I finish the site and put everything up, I can pay an affordable month by month subscription.

      My question is: why did you say you’re leaving Artstation since someone attempted the same NFT scam with you that someone tried to rope me into? I told him where he could shove his non-fungible tokens, and blocked him. But is Artstation actually run by people perpetrating NFT scams? Does it have a bad reputation? Will it be bad for me to just have a portfolio there? I really have needed one for so long.

      Please get back to me as this is very concerning to me. if Artstation is going to give me a bad reputation, I will need to find another place to put my portfolio. But I would be so disappointed. I am having a really hard time finding a good solution.

      Best Regards,
      Demimonde Mesila Thraam
      Psychedelic Artist for 35 Years
      San Francisco, CA, USA

  17. Thank you for this article. The day after I began a portfolio on Artstation, I got an email from someone who said my art was striking or beautiful or some such, and wanted to buy all the pieces I’d put up so far on the site for 2000 dollars each! I was very suspicious, and even more so when he started talking about NFTs. I told him I needed to research it first. But my “spidey sense” already could pick this up for what it was.

    I told him it smelled as fishy as an otter’s mouth. Thank you for confirming this.

  18. galileoguy says

    Thanks so much for this. I just got my first scammer and as you say in the article, I paid attention to my instincts and wanted to learn more. Your article here is the first thing I opened when I googled nft scams.

    So helpful, it both confirms some things I suspected and gave me much new information on the subject.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work for us artists. I, for one, really appreciate it.

  19. I think I’m dealing with a scammer myself. She asked if my art was for sell. I told her not as yet, I’m working a a collection that hasn’t been posted yet. She said what a sham I would like tp purchase a couple for a project (she is an artist also). She said she didn’t need the actual art just digital.

    No money has been mentioned at this point. She picked out about 5 that she wanted. I asked her if she was using them for collage work. Some time had passed and she emails me at 1:30 a.m. saying she wants to purchase them as NFT”s. I haven’t responded yet, but I knew something was off because I actually had researched NFT’s awhile back.

    So glad you had this article. Thank you

  20. The past two weeks, May 2024, I have received requests to purchase my art work. Initially no mention of nft, instead an amount I believed to be US dollars yet misspelling or an abbreviated word accompanied the dollar amount.
    Two questions came to me with this request: First- although I find my work to be quite good, it is not priced as what a long-time high-end professional artist would price their pieces. My first ‘flag’.
    Second- The majority of buyers purchase within a Series if wanting more than one piece from an artist’s collection. This particular (scammer) wanted eight entirely different, unrelated pieces from my collection. Second ‘flag’.
    I questioned an abbreviation in their email to me, and their reply to me was somewhat rude and belittling, that as an artist I should understand these abbreviations. My online research of a handful of articles and journals indicated I was indeed being contacted by an NFT. I continued to question the person(or bot?) regarding these nft’s to gain knowledge of their true intention with my art, and the money being requested of me. Of course I will not be uploading my work nor sending money.
    In hindsight and not seeing this initially as a scam email, I would not have replied nor engaged in conversation.
    Last, I believe that legitimate art websites we pay a monthly/yearly fee to sell our original art should have the technology to provide users online protection against scam such as NFT emails and artificial intelligence with bot emails, scams, hackers and the like.
    My question, would an artist benefit best by developing a personal website, buying a domain name and running their online business from a personal website, in order to sell work safely, honestly, without going through a series of checks against scam each time a ‘buyer’ or interested party contacts?

    • Hi Cindi, Sorry to hear that you were approached by a scammer, and yes, you should have deleted their message and not replied. As far as setting up a personal website, it will not protect you in any way from people sending inquiries and trying to scam you. They could use your Contact form. They could contact you on social media. They could email you if you provide the address. The best protection is not a different website platform, but a clear understanding of how these criminals work and the fact that it is best to delete and never engage with them.

  21. Can anyone say if Kudask.com is a scam? A “buyer” wants to buy the artworks using Kudask, instead of PayPal as usual. But to receive the x$ from the buyer via Kudask, Kudask want me to send them another x$. they say they will refund both amounts, but so many delays/excuses. Should I be worried?

    • I’ve never heard of them, but an online search makes it look like a scam. I would never work with a “bank” that asked for money to to be paid to them so you can receive a payment. Banks don’t work like that.

  22. Carolyn, absolutely fascinating thread. Well done to warn other artists.

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