CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There's a new way for scammers to try to get your money.
This latest trend is specific to artists, but it’s the same technique scammers use when pretending to try to buy everything from used cars to puppies.
Heidi Kirschner has been painting for 20 years.
"To be able to make a living as an artist as most people know is pretty difficult," she said.
But she does. Her paintings sell for thousands of dollars. They’re in galleries across the area, and she has a successful website.
Lately, though, Kirschner’s had to be more careful about people finding her on the internet.
"I’ve been getting these emails that, just, your flags go up and something feels off. The English is not great, and then they say, 'We need a piece ASAP,'" she said.
Then, she said, they send a check for more than the actual cost of the painting
"Say the piece was five grand. They send you a check for eight or nine, and they overpay you. And they say, 'Oops, we’ll need the difference, so you pay them a check for three grand, ship out the painting," she explained.
She said two artists in Charlotte have been duped
"I think it’s pretty important that artists know what's going on here because they can lose their art but also significant amounts of money," she said.
The check typically isn’t good either. It’s the same kind of scam we’ve seen with people pretending to buy all kinds of things on the internet. It’s just now hitting the charlotte art world.
Kirschner said she hasn’t fallen for it, but she has lost time wading through the bogus clients.
"You’re emailing back and forth, taking images of your work," she said.
Police said no matter what you’re selling if you’re contacted online, pay attention to the grammar and spelling in the email.
Another red flag is if they claim to need something quickly.
Also, be especially aware if a supposed buyer is reaching out from outside the U.S.
"I hate the idea of other artists that get so excited. They're out their paintings and their money," she said.