Social media is a way to stay connected, share our interests and hobbies, as well as connect to the world at large. However, there are some individuals who may exploit the friendly nature of such platforms.
Ever have a profile picture you were particularly proud of? What if you were offered money for that picture? This is the basis for the Artist Scam, most commonly occurring on Instagram. The “artist” or their “employer” will reach out to you through your direct messages, telling you how much they like a photo you have posted to your account and would love to use it for an art piece they are working on. Even better, they say that they are willing to pay you for the use of your image.
The “employer” will be paying you, usually by emailing you a check, but in some cases using mobile payment apps, or they may even ask for your online login and password. After that money is deposited, you’ll be instructed to send some money from that check. This money is so the “artist” can buy supplies like canvases or special paints. Some of these scams even claim the art piece featuring you will go to auction, and that you are being paid to avoid any kind of legal retaliation for your image being used.
The check will then reject from your account, or the transfers disputed by the cardholder, causing you to take a personal loss for the money you sent.
What Should I do?
Never share your online password or username with anyone else. Your bank will also not ask for this information. Be cautious of accepting money from individuals you do not know personally. Do not accept money from someone under the condition you need to send money to someone else, especially checks.
You can report suspicious activities to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov, as well as your e-commerce site. In addition, most social media platforms have ways to report user profiles that were either taken over or created with the malicious intent of scamming people.