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I was recently DM'd on TikTok by an artist requesting to use my profile picture for mural art as they were creating art based on human expressions. I didn't mind as my profile is public so anyone can see that picture.

They offered to pay me a cut of the money they would make based off this artwork and that I should expect to be paid in the next week or so. The form of payment they chose was a check that would be sent to my email.

They asked for my first and last name and the bank that I bank with. I felt suspicious and gave my name, but refused to give my banks name and suggested we use an alternative form of payment, like PayPal. They said that it wouldn’t work for them and that I have to give my bank's name.

They then told me a whole story about that they know what it’s like to be scammed and that they don't intend on doing that to me. My main suspicion lies in the fact that they have three followers on TikTok, no Instagram or rather any platform that shows this mural art that they do and asked for my phone number to share their work since I wanted to see it.

They also haven't asked for my email, yet are demanding I send my bank's name for this check. Maybe I’m not educated in checks and am just being stubborn not to share my bank's name?

Along with the fact that when I suggested that they finish the mural art and then we'll talk payment, they said they need it now. Is there reason to be suspicious or am I just being paranoid?

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    "Along with the fact that when i suggested that they finish the mural art and then we'll talk payment, they said they need it now. Is there reason to be suspicious or am i just being paranoid?" Another red flag.. Cut ties and block them..
    – iLuvLogix
    Feb 7 at 14:41
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    "They then told me a whole story about that they know what its like to be scammed and that they don't intend on doing that to me." Huge red flag. A scammer who is willing to steal from you is also willing to lie to you. And why would they be acting so scammy if they really knew what it was like?
    – JimmyJames
    Feb 7 at 20:18
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    Related question
    – BagiM
    Feb 7 at 21:04
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    Maybe this is country-specific, but is an emailed check even valid? Literally everything about this says scam to me.
    – asgallant
    Feb 7 at 22:49
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    This is a common scam, and a variation on the classic fake cheque or advance fee scam. There is absolutely nothing real about this. The reason why they ask for your bank is because they need to maximize the likelihood that the fake cheque will go through at first, and that it will take as long as possible before the deposit is reversed (it will, eventually). So for example, they don't want to send you a cheque from the same bank that you use, because that's likely to get flagged immediately.
    – Chris Haug
    Feb 7 at 23:50

4 Answers 4

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Is there reason to be suspicious or am i just being paranoid?

Yes, there is. It is a scam. When someone forces you into a specific method of payment that makes no sense to you, has no proof of their claims, demands information they clearly don't need, and refuses to provide information you do need - they're trying to manipulate you. They say "it looks like a scam" because yes, it does, because it is. They say "but we're not going to scam you", and you believe that why?

Also, generally it's bad business for you to first do the work and then discuss payment.

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    And suspicious for them to offer you money for something that requires no effort on your part. Always ask yourself why they would make this offer to YOU rather than anyone else; if there isn't a darned good reason, assume scam.
    – keshlam
    Feb 7 at 17:10
  • @keshlam or why they would make this offer to anyone at all -- artists are free to use other peoples likeness for commercial works (exceptions apply if it's a famous person and you are mass producing the image but that doesn't apply here).
    – eps
    Feb 7 at 21:13
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    @eps: That depends on where you are and what they are doing and whether the intend to publish the work (and posting it back into the Internet would be publishing). Read up on model releases and derivative works. The whole thing does still scream scam, though.
    – keshlam
    Feb 7 at 23:15
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    Also... "In order to pay you, I need your wallet" should have raised the alarm bells. Feb 8 at 16:45
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    @AaronCicali: There's been a few cases where I thought "set up a new empty wallet" was good sense. But yeah this looks like scam.
    – Joshua
    Feb 8 at 18:16
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If a legitimate person (like your grandmother) was to send you a physical check for your birthday, they don't have to know the name of your bank.

One risk with a check being emailed to you, is that you can't prevent them from generating a an image and sending it to other people. You aren't holding a physical check. With your grandmothers check, it looks legitimate because it has her name, address, bank information and signature.

Another risk in your situation is that the person you are dealing with is asking for your bank information. They don't need this information. You can use any bank you have an account with. You can take it to a check cashing business. You might even be able to find a person that would take a 3rd party check. Of course those things would be easier with a physical check.

The other things about social media and their story are red flags, that should make your even more concerned about the situation.

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    In the UK it's common for somebody to ask for your bank code and account number so they can pay you by direct funds transfer. Cheques are very last-century. The bank code is not hard to translate into a bank branch. However, I would be very suspicious of any such request in connection with other personal identity such as here, my photograph. I concur with everyone else, it's some kind of scam.
    – nigel222
    Feb 8 at 10:04
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    Re images and validity: In many countries, a two-sided image of a check is also a check (or, more pedantically, it can be lawfully converted into an electronic check substitute by the receiving bank, and the originating bank is generally required to honor the substitute in lieu of the original). This does not change the fact that OP is getting scammed, of course.
    – Kevin
    Feb 8 at 19:46
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    huh in europe no one asks for a cheque, everything is by providing a bank account where you can sent money to.
    – paul23
    Feb 9 at 9:54
  • @nigel222 The US bank system is not as good - the equivalent of UK direct debit can be done by anyone in USA whilst in UK (and I think Europe you have to be a registered organisation to do that) - Also just asking for the bank branch sounds more like phishing to be able to impersonate you,
    – mmmmmm
    Feb 9 at 14:48
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My first post here and I have no financial qualifications besides working along money for many decades, but I'm pretty sure everyone would agree if it smells like a scam it probably is. Human nature, unfortunately. Never take the risk.

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I was recently dm'd on tiktok by an artist requesting to use my profile picture for mural art as they were creating art based on human expressions.

That's a variation on a common scam. There are approximately zero legitimate artists out there who will DM people on TikTok of all things to "use" their profile pictures.

The artists who legit want to do such work will just pay for a bunch of stock pictures. It'll be cheaper and way less hassle that way, and also just about the only way to minimize legal exposure to liability.

There are basically two possibilities in your case:

  1. You have a bona-fide artist who is clueless about how work in their profession is done and is wasting everyone's time, including yours. No need to engage with them in any way, it's silly all around.

  2. You have a scammer.

It doesn't matter whether the artist is a bona fide bumbling beginner or a scammer, just click block and move on. Life is too short to deal with it in either case.

They offered to pay me a cut of the money they would make based off this artwork

Any artist working that way would go broke. It's only ethical not to facilitate them going broke, right? Block, move on, nothing more to it, don't waste your time on it.

If you need to, talk to an actual artist that makes murals for money. They'd get a good chuckle out of the silliness of that "artist". They'd never get anything done if they had to message people to use their likenesses in generic art (as opposed to art dedicated to a particular person).

[In a comment to your question:] As a trained and credentialed artist, this is the most laughable scenario I have heard in a long time. – Yorik yesterday

Case in point.

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