News broke about a German collector who thought he was getting the deal of a lifetime in early February. It appears that Gallery T293, based in Rome and offering works by several in-demand artists, had been hacked. Cybercriminals accessed their emails and set up another email account ending in t292 (one digit off) and a bogus phone number. Then the scam began, contacting the galleries’ buyers and offering them works of art at very attractive prices.
The German collector was offered two paintings by Anna Park and wired the funds ($33,000) to a bank account set up by the Cybercriminals. It seems that the fraudsters contacted 19 individuals, including an art advisor in the US (who almost fell for the scam). Once the fraud came to light, authorities deactivated the scammer’s bank account and returned the German collector’s money.
As more and more sales are taking place online, buyers need to confirm that the emails are coming from the ‘real’ gallery account and their banking information is accurate. If you have any doubt, do an online search for the gallery, and then pick up the phone and call them. Better safe than sorry.
Over the past couple of years, we have received several emails from accounts we know that seemed a little strange. Upon closer inspection, we found that a letter or number in the address was changed. We even played along with a couple, just to see what would happen. Every time, they were looking for money.