Anton Gunter, managing director of Global Freight Services in Telford, said that over the last 12 months the firm had become aware of a significant increase in the number of international fraud cases involving the shipment of valuable art work.
He is now warning artists across the county to be on their guard and said other small businesses should also be mindful of similar scams.
“Artists up and down the UK are being targeted by fraudsters portraying as genuine art collectors,” he said.
“It’s the biggest scam we’ve seen in the shipping industry for many years and we want as many small business owners as possible to be aware.”
Fraudsters involved in the scam are contacting artists and, in some cases, placing orders for art work worth thousands of pounds.
They are then convincing artists that they have organised shipment of the goods through a genuine freight company and are requesting artists then make an up-front payment to reimburse the transportation costs.
Mr Gunter said: “We have been contacted by numerous artists across the UK who have fallen victim to this type of deception and we want to make sure it stops.
“As a company you should never arrange for goods to be shipped before receiving payment from a customer or until you are in receipt of a legal document which outlines when payment will be made.
“And, if businesses are ever asked to reimburse costs for a shipment which has been arranged directly by the customer, this should set alarm bells ringing and they should seek advice.
“We know from conversations we have had with artists that this type of scam has left many of them feeling distressed and concerned and we hope by raising awareness we can reduce the number of victims.”
Global Freight has been working with businesses for more than 20 years helping to import and export goods to and from countries all over the world.
It has a successful track-record when it comes to assisting artists who require their work to be shipped abroad.
Any artists or businesses concerned they may be at the centre of a shipping scam should contact the police or Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk