Art Scams and You | How to Avoid the GFX Bots and More

Are you a content creator? Maybe you’re a VTuber, a streamer, or you create videos. Perhaps you’re even a podcaster or writer. Either way, at some point in your content creation career, you’re likely to need art of some kind, whether it’s a commission of your original character, a Twitter banner, or Twitch panels. Unfortunately, there are people out there wanting to take your money, without providing a fair service in exchange! Whether it’s GFX bots or human scammers, there’s danger out there.

This article intends to raise awareness about some of the red flags to look out for when looking for art. It cannot explain all possibilities, so please always remain careful when commissioning artwork.

I should take a moment to note here that these articles are funded by the community. If you’d like to support our work, please support us at VtuberTweeter on Patreon or NookGaming on KoFi.

GFX Bots – Autodialers of the Internet

Probably the most common of the scams, the GFX bot automatically replies to comments that mention keywords such as ‘commission’ on Twitter. Note that bots can read your profile bio, tweets, and more to search for who it will reply to and which tweets. A good enough bot can automatically respond to a tweet looking for someone to commission with an appropriate response more often than not.

Some bots also directly message. Sometimes they do this when someone posts something appropriate, while others just message anyone that they have detected to be an appropriate target. For example, if you have VTuber in your profile bio, it can assume that you are likely a VTuber, and potentially one of the higher spenders on artwork.

While the previous is all about Twitter, this happens on Discord too. Bots will find and enter VTuber Discord servers, then either post messages or start directly messaging members.

You might ask why this is so bad. After all, it’s only an annoying marketing tactic. The bigger problem is that the people behind GFX bots tend to be scammers, often using false advertising and either sending low-quality artwork or no art after taking your money.

How to Find and Avoid a GFX Bot

First, it’s worth noting that tactics evolve and some are better at hiding than others. Don’t take this as your only source, but as some initial information about red flags to watch out for. It’s also worth noting that not all of these will definitely indicate a scammer.

Firstly, the name can be a big clue. They’re likely known as ‘GFX bots’ because so many of them include ‘GFX’ in either their display name or Twitter handle. Having a name more common to females is fairly common too, as is including a lot of numbers in the username or a good-looking woman as their avatar. That said, as mentioned they’ve started to evolve. These days I’m seeing more that instead have ‘VTuber’ in the name or handle or otherwise look more natural. Quite a few also have ‘Art’ in the handle or username too, which quite a few real artists do too.

The bio is often a clue too. If it mentions being a ‘professional graphics designer’ or similar, I’d be wary. A lot of them seem to use the word professional often. A bio that seems completely focused on their services is another red flag. Having significantly more following than followers is another – a lot of them follow a ton of related accounts. They rely on people who will follow back anyone who follows them to get followers and target accounts such as VTubers and streamers.

If you look at their tweets, most use similar formulas for all of their tweets and they’re usually all about promoting their services. Most include excessive amounts of hashtags and often include the @ of big retweeting accounts such as our own @VTuberTweeter. As a note on that for people who follow, @VTuberTweeter filters out hundreds of these every day, but it can’t catch them all.

Both tweets on their own profile and reply tweets often use English which clearly shows it’s not their native language. This shouldn’t be taken as a red flag on its own as there are a lot of wonderful artists from non-English speaking countries, but it’s another indicator.

With that said, another pattern that some GFX and other scam bots use is to copy a real tweet, but insert their information or images. As such, these can seem much more natural. Quite often it has multiple accounts copy the same text, so another check is to use Twitter search to see if you can find any tweets with identical phrasing.

Artwork posted is often stolen in all types of scam tweets. While you can’t know where every piece of artwork comes from, tools such as Yandex’s image search can be helpful, if not foolproof. Sometimes if you click on the tweets, you can find people calling them out in the comments too. The art often varies wildly in style as well. If they mention that the artwork is for reference, it’s time to just block them.

Direct messages are an odd one. Sometimes they message with a direct advertisement talking about their logos, artwork, and so on. More often they just message ‘Hey’ or similar. I assume they’re fishing for any response with a natural opener to try and open dialogue.

As a side note, while only occasionally related to an art/gfx scam, a less common tactic is to DM with a sob story and ask for retweets on a tweet. This can be one about art commissions, but it’s usually something along the lines of a pet/relative/etc needing treatment with a Go Fund Me/Ko-Fi/etc link instead.

Whether it’s responding to their tweet, comment, or direct message, after they’ve hooked you, a real person will take over talking to the prospective customer. Some of them are very pushy and will try and pressure you. Some will even resort to manipulative tactics such as saying they won’t be able to pay the bills or will commit suicide if they don’t get commissions.

As a note, some people will purposely misspell specific words in their tweets when looking for commissions. This can sometimes help avoid bots commenting, though it’s not perfect. Bots can search for ‘logo’, ‘logos’ and ‘l0gos’, but the creator might not think to add ‘l0g0s’ or ‘LogoZ’.

Image of commissioner trying to avoid bots added with permission. Name blanked out for privacy.

Flesh and Blood Scammers

As much as people complain about bots, please remember that humans are the ones scamming you. Some will do it more directly too, whether originally intending to or not.

If you’re looking for a VTuber model, we do have a community-sourced list of recommendations. In general, finding people’s past work and speaking to those who commissioned them is your best method of protection here. It’s not perfect though. Recommendations can be faked, and overly-positive reviews are often given. For example, I’ve spoken to people who’ve told me how amazing an artist is, but digging deeper they needed to chase for updates constantly, they saw subsequent commissions being done before their own, and there were massive delays. There have also been cases where an artist who was recommended by multiple people suddenly disappeared without completing the agreed work or sending refunds, then returned under another name.

I wrote about my experience commissioning a VTuber model, what I did first, and what I learned from it. It might be a good read generally for commissioning art.

All I can recommend here is speaking to multiple people who’ve commissioned them in the past and making sure to agree about updates and deadlines upfront with the artist. Commissioning someone who is established helps too, but would likely be more expensive than someone newer. Make sure to be aware of chargeback policies with your payment method when planning deadlines and agreeing any extensions, as you may be able to recover money if scammed. It has happened before that a scammer has extended the deadline to beyond the chargeback period, leaving the commissioner with no art and no way to recover their money. Unfortunately, being kind and understanding can harm you significantly here. It’s a common story to find someone giving a lot of chances if an artist repeatedly delays or temporarily disappears, to end up with nothing.

A fairly new concern is people using AI-generated art for your commissions. Leaving the ethical considerations of AI Art aside for the moment, you’re probably paying for someone to create custom artwork for you – not generate it with a prompt and maybe make some adaptions. Unfortunately, I don’t have many helpful tips for detecting it, aside from looking for aberrations and inconsistency, especially around the hands, eyes, and hair. This is a fast-moving area though, so things may quickly change. I have seen someone working on a tool to automatically detect AI-art, but at the time of writing it isn’t working well enough to recommend.

Special Thanks to @KotoBakana for suggesting this article.

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We have a number of other articles aimed at content creators, that you might be interested in! If you want to support the resources we use to develop and run our bot @VTuberTweeter, as well as these articles mostly aimed towards helping VTubers, you might be interested in supporting us on Patreon too!

A Twitch Journey to Partner

How And Why To Gain Followers On Twitter: Some Thoughts

Twitter Tips for VTubers

Commissioning a VTuber Model – My Experience

Art Scams and You | How to Avoid the GFX Bots and More

How To Get Free Games As A Content Creator/Press

Numbers Matter | Why It’s Okay to Try to be Popular in Content Creation

VTubers Beyond Hololive

VTuber Model Artist Recommendations

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