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First of all, this is only rudimentary related to this board's topic. I checked the site list, though, and this one seemed the most appropriate.

I am a hobbyist photographer. Some days ago, I was contacted via Instagram by a representative of 1340art.com who asked me if a specific image was indeed made by myself and that their site features artworks like this. He provided a link where I should upload the image if I was interested in collaborating / getting the image featured with them.

After I submitted the picture, I received an Email from another representative:

I was just reviewing the Instagram submission you did recently. Based on the quality of your artwork I would like to invite you to enter our magazine competition!

This means you will be entered into the next and final selection-round of our competition to be featured in the printed version of the July 2018 edition of the magazine. You can view our last 4 editions by clicking here.

Please send me more samples of your work as soon as possible using the form in the link below.

Behind the latter link is a website which informs me that I was preselected by the jury to be featured in the next issue of the 1340art print magazine. They ask me to submit one to four images, and to pay an entry fee of 20 $ for one image or 30 $ for four images.

Now I know that such fees are regularly asked for in competitions. The fact, however, that it was them contacting me through two stages; and that it was only on the last site that I was informed that I need pay a fee for submitting my art which was called for by them, makes me wonder if this is but a scam.

So, long story short, does anyone have experiences with this organization or a similar one? Is this normal business conduct and am I safe to consider participation?

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    I've seen multiple spam posts like the one you're quoting over the years I've used Instagram. They're exactly that, spam. – laurencemadill Jun 20 '18 at 9:25
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    I don't get it. What part of this makes you think there is anything legitimate going on? – Olin Lathrop Jun 20 '18 at 12:03
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    you look up "1340art", you see "scam" in 5 of top results, you move on. – Agent_L Jun 20 '18 at 12:24
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Legit contests which have entry fees have those fees because they get too many entries. Sure, they may offset some expenses, but basically the payment exists to make people think twice about entering. It's a basic "must be at least this serious to enter" bar.

The scam, on the other hand, is the opposite — they've reached out to you, and expend a lot of effort getting you hooked and then ask for money. Nothing legitimate ever works this way. Your instincts are right on the nose. Run away.

Like many scams, the basic hook here is an appeal to your ego — or vanity. It starts with someone complimenting your artwork, or your writing, or your business skill, or whatever. Human nature being what it is, we want to believe — which makes it easy to set aside skepticism and ignore warning flags.

On this particular scam, check out this forum thread for some people with personal experience, as well as some forensic investigation. Some choice quotes from that thread:

100% a scam. I reached out to artists who "won" (basically anybody who pays). People are told different things (pay to be promoted, art contest with distinguished panel of judges, magazine sold in Amsterdam, London and New York). Some bought copies of a magazine that never arrived. ISBN numbers of magazines "published" belong to other real publications.

and

I can now tell with 95% probability that 1340 art is a scam - don't pay money for attending into their odd competitions.

Currently at address of 1340 art in Netherlands is actually located Amsterdam Art, which has nothing to do with 1340 art.

Further, I note that the site touts a 5-star "Trustpilot" rating. Ironically, when you see this kind of thing front and center, that's a warning sign. Trustpilot is a real, independent thing, but they're famous for being full of false reviews. Indeed, the link on the site itself (which claims 5 stars and 8.8/10 as a rating) isn't clickable, but if you go and search, you find a three star 6.8/10 rating — and a long list of short, suspicious five-star reviews punctuated by one-star reviews from artists who were taken in. Take a look at the overview:

trustpilot

This is not a ... normal company profile.

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    I recall a scam a few years back where a photography site ran a photo competition that required an entry fee. Then, several of the competitions were "won" by the owner of the site and he collected the "prize". So even asking for entry fees up front is not scam-free. – JS. Jun 20 '18 at 17:42
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    @JS Yes, that's true. Any legitimate contest that asks for fees makes that clear up front — but that's not bidirectional. Asking for fees certainly doesn't make a contest legitimate. And I'm not even touching on the issue of whether such contests even when totally on the up-and-up are really worth it in any meaningful way. – mattdm Jun 20 '18 at 17:45
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It's a scam.

They're trying to get you to pay them money for giving your images to them.

Not only are they trying to bilk you out of some cash, the mere act of sending them your image(s), and agreeing to the terms and conditions of the contest, probably assigns them unlimited usage rights to, if not outright ownership of, the image.

If the images are good enough it's possible they'll place them on stock sites in hopes of making money selling rights to your images.

If, in the unlikely event you eventually sell usage rights of one of the images to someone else for a good price, guess who just might come after you for violating a contract in which you assigned exclusive rights, if not outright ownership, to them?

  • A contract requires some form of consideration. If they come after you, get a decent lawyer and countersue. – R.. Jun 20 '18 at 18:53
  • @R.. in an ideal world, yes. But getting a lawyer and suing someone sitting across an ocean is going to be both expensive and a real headache. – Mindwin Jun 20 '18 at 19:14
  • @Mindwin On the other hand, if someone in the same country as the photographer were to buy exclusive rights to an image from the "contest" organizers, they'd probably decide to go after the photographer in their own country violating the perfectly legal rights they purchased before they'd go after the "contest" organizers overseas. Or the company that bought the rights from the photographer to an image he no longer owned might attempt to recover their loss when they are issued a "cease and desist" order by the legal owner of the image. – Michael C Jun 23 '18 at 8:53
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Is this normal business conduct and am I safe to consider participation?

I'm sorry, but why do you want to win this "competition"? You received an unsolicited message, asking you to upload one of your images to some site you have never heard of, and then they ask you to pay for the privilege?! Why are you giving this any consideration? Move along.

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  1. A pure and simple a case of classic “Bait and Switch”, the best you can do is to report them to the Better Business Bureau of the state where their corporate headquarters are located. In case the are actually located in an EU Member State, which I doubt if they aren't plain dumb, you can report them in 10 minutes thru Internet and in English (with digitally signed receipt of the submission and its content), for both cases, directly to the EU Customer Affairs Commission or its Permanent Office and to the same agency or permanent office in the Member State (Netherlands). Netherlands will do the actual investigation but the EU will make sure that they proceed at least, if not better, that what the EU Regulations and Directives require. Consumers and Users are over protected by the EU Regulations.
  2. And don’t forget to demand that the company and any third party involved to return the originals of your pictures and require them to deliver to you, no later than fiveteen days from your ddemand, a notarized certification issued by the secretary and the chairman of the board stating if the photos and derivative work have been only used by them and stayed at all times under their sole possession, in case that anyone else, person, company or any other entity, could have been able to gain access the photos or the derivative works in any way, shape or form and for any purpose, they must enclose in the certification an specific statement including the contact data of everyone of them that must include at least: their name, street address, phone, email and contact persons. They must also include in the certification a statement declaring that they have securely destroyed all the originals and derivative works, digitally stored, printed or otherwise reproduced copies, and any backups of them in the hand of anyone including them. They must append to this certification the notarized copies of the pertinent agreements of the board where each of them were designated as the current serving secretary and chairman of the board.
  • Where do all of the "musts" in your point #2 come from? That all seems very specific with a lot of hard requirements. – mattdm Jun 29 '18 at 1:40
  • I don't think that making legal-sounding demands without any actual backing of law for those specific demands is a good strategy. – mattdm Jun 29 '18 at 2:09
  • @mattdm The musts are obligations the photographer has the right to impose on the scammers so they learn not everyone is naive and they will sweat their scam. Moreover if they don't comply or if they plainly lie, it will not only allow a civil case against the company but a civil and penal case against the company and the whole board. In Europe ask for moral damages, and in the US ask for punitive damages. Just in case that make them rethink the risks they are taking personally. – abetancort Jun 29 '18 at 2:11
  • Where do these "rights" come from? Are you asserting that these specific things are granted in a law or international treaty? Or are you suggesting that they are basic human rights somehow? – mattdm Jun 29 '18 at 2:21
  • They are granted in different laws that transpose E.U. regulations and directives to member states local laws and some also are reflected in international multilateral treaties to which both the Netherlands and now the E.U. are signatories. In the US most of them have become part of common law due to case law. – abetancort Jul 24 '18 at 20:45

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