GREENPOINT — A con artist pretending to buy a painting from a popular Greenpoint art hub scammed the piece's owner out of $1,700, cops said.
The fraudulent buyer of a painting at 99 Commercial St. — a longtime artist community with dozens of studios on the Newtown Creek waterfront — reached out to the artwork's owner to purchase the $1,000 piece but then sent a check for $2,700, officials said.
The suspect then "contacted [the owner] and stated he had sent the wrong amount and asked [the owner] to take the $1,000 and wire the remaining $1,700 to him," the police report said of the June 11 incident. But after the owner wired him the money, her bank said the suspect's check was found to be "fraudulent," officials said.
It was unclear from the report whether the owner was also the painter of the piece, but 99 Commercial Street artist Leon Reid IV said the owner was likely an artist since the building is mainly studios.
"It’s sad to see that artists are getting treated this way, because we don’t make a whole lot of money to begin with," Reid said of the alleged scam, "and when someone is asking to buy something from an artist, it's an exciting moment."
Reid, who called the incident a "tragedy," said he hoped artists would "wise up a bit" when dealing with new clients.
"If you’re dealing with someone for the first time, you should accept payment face to face...If someone's going to buy your art, it's good to know the person personally, to have a trusting relationship," he said.
"It’s a tough business to begin with because you're selling something people want and not need, and those sales come few and far between...I can only imagine what the artist is feeling right now."
No suspect has been identified in the alleged scam.