Scams for writers are just as rife, all you can do is be informed and carefully check the offers. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
I've entered several contests with entry fees, but the fee use was carefully listed - x amount for prizes, x amount for the judges time, x amount for use of the facilities. You still have to be careful and make sure it's reputable.
I remember one contest that took everyone's money - but refused to accept artwork that wasn't from the club members. (And you could tell who was in that particular club, EVERY accepted image was of the same vase of yellow roses!) In that instance, calling the attention of the facility hosting the show got money returned. It's usually not so easy.
Our local museum used to rent for a pretty modest fee one of their small halls for artists to show and sell their work, which was a sweet deal - except this attracted scammers. These people would rent the hall, and then charge the hell out of the artists, and demand a percentage of sales. Fortunately, the museum staff was good about catching those.
Actually there are a lot of contests that require an entry fee, especially if they are awarding cash prizes or having to pay for jurors travel expenses. But a lot of these just smell like scams and I know exactly what you are talking about. I get at least half a dozen of these e-mails every day, asking me to have a show in Italy for $400 entry fee per piece. That's not including the 75% commission they take, shipping, taxes, import/export/VAT etc. It's obvious that it's spam because they usually know nothing about your artwork. For instance I don't have originals. I'm a digital artist. They send me "invitations" to "original only art shows". If they knew anything about me or who I am, they wouldn't bother to send me these things, they'd know I wouldn't bite even if I was as stupid as they take me for.
There are a lot of art scams out there, period. Have been for years. A good place to check for them is ebsqart.com's forums. They have one specifically for scams and spams. It's interesting to see how many people get "customers" who want to pay them by money order for $1000 more than what the print or painting they want costs, and for you to send them the change as cash or check. I wish I could say no one is that stupid, but some people are just that naive and fall for it. Sad but true.
Some people are so eager to have any kind of art show that they'll jump at the chance to have an exhibition in Italy even if it costs them $700 per piece. These people know that, they know how sensitive and often starving us artists are, and they prey on that like any good scammer does.
It's a big bad world we live in, you just have to be smart enough to spot the BS.
I know about legitimate contests asking for entry fees, but most of them state that the awards will eventually consist of an established sum of money and don't just lure you in with the idea of a possible cash prize yet undetermined. And thanks for the link, I'll check that site right away
There is so much of this going on and so many people desperate to make extra cash.Quite frankly unless you know what goes on(like your informative article)we are all basically sitting ducks waiting for our feathers to be plucked.Thank you for this article and I will definitely be keeping my eyes open.