Buying art online is the in thing – but just be careful of fraudsters, says ARTbid

More and more businesses are moving online – and more and more consumers are shopping online, including artists and buyers of art.

August 3, 2012

More and more businesses are moving online – and more and more consumers are shopping online, including artists and buyers of art. While this trend is inexorable, users must be aware of the possibility of cyber crime – and must choose their online art auction sites carefully.

So said Suzannè Böhme, CEO of newly-launched art auction web site, ARTbid, adding that this is why ARTbid offers clients “total peace of mind” via an escrow service. “This ensures that all transactions are safeguarded between the various transacting parties. It must be noted, however,” said Böhme, “that most buyers and sellers in online auctions are honest. What one has to be careful of these days is tech-savvy opportunists who prey on unsuspecting online shoppers  –and this is an activity, and a concern that is on the increase.

She said the online world is littered with “horror stories” and with techno-savvy criminals who spend their days trying to steal as much money and merchandise as they can from “as many victims as possible”.

“This is one of the things we are patently aware of – and this is why we offer a ‘No-Risk’ solution to both buyers and sellers of art, an offering that makes ARTbid  100% secure for all parties concerned, said Böhme.

Commenting further, Böhme said that these days a seller typically cannot be held responsible for the quality of an item he or she sells, unless the quality has been specifically guaranteed in a warranty – which is something that leading sites, like ARTbid, would do.

“While in many instances we offer buyers warranties, the unfortunate truth is that not many auction sites do – and buyers need to be cognisant of this.”

Böhme said online buyers should learn how to size up sellers and their auction items before making bids. “Also make sure the selling platform is legitimate – and find out exactly what safeguards it offers.” Besides the possibility of being the victim of Internet crime, some of the common complaints from online buyers include:  the late shipment of purchases; no shipment of purchase/s; shipped products that are not the same quality as advertised; bogus online payment, or escrow services; and fraudulent dealers who lure bidders from legitimate sites with seemingly better deals.

“Make sure of a site’s credentials,” said Böhme, “even if it says it offers an escrow service or buyer gaurantee. Make sure.”

It is “almost a certainty” that in the often high-priced world of online auctions for antiques, collectables and fine art that you will encounter inexperienced sellers who make honest mistakes in their descriptions of ‘rare’ objects. On top of this, buyers may encounter sellers who knowingly sell fakes and forgeries while doing their best to appear legitimate. “They may even respond to questions quickly and end up shipping the goods with great care – and with good packaging. But once the buyer learns that he has bought a fake, these people quickly disappear into the amorphous cyber world – and are almost impossible to trace.

“But despite this,” said Böhme, ”buying and selling art via online auctions is proving immensely popular. It saves time and effort and allows both the buyer and seller to reach a larger audience. Just because there are potential risks does not mean this method should be eschewed. People must just be cautious – like they should be when dealing with anyone, or anything, in the cyber world.”