December 2014

Beware: Violin Teacher Email Scam

December 17, 2014 18:22

Recently, I received a message through, supposedly from a father seeking violin lessons for his 12-year-old daughter. It started sounding like a scam I read about here on, so I'm posting about it to alert others of possible scams. The following is our entire email correspondence, with details redacted with [brackets].

Hi there,
How are you doing today and I hope you are having a great day? My name is [sender], My wife and I are looking to hire a qualified Violin coach for our daughter, her name is [student] and she is 12yrs old. What we want for her is just a general brush-up with her with the instrument and in any areas she may have difficulties with. If you are available and willing to take her kindly get back to me with your rates and hopefully an arrangement can be made then. Where are you located?

Hi [sender],

I received your message via regarding violin lessons for your daughter [student]. I am located in [city area] near [university]. My rates are [rate]. I will either travel to your home or meet you at the [university] for lessons. Please let me know if this is something you would like to do, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

[recipient], Violin

Hello there [recipient],

Thanks for your email and I hope you are having a great day? I'm delighted to know you are available to coach my daughter with her Violin lessons, We live in England(Kent), I'm into Real estate and construction work here, My daughter [student] will be relocating temporarily to my sister's house in [city]. less than a week from this date and I'm hoping the lessons can be held privately at any venue you provide for [student] to meet with you. What we really want for [student] is just a general brush-up and tips in any areas she might have difficulties with the instrument and [student] has had a few Violin lessons here in England but nothing too concrete I must say so I guess you will be taking her partly as a beginner too. [student] will be coming along with her Violin and music book but you can also go ahead and bring any that you think will be helpful too, I would like the lessons to hold two times a week for 1hr each day of the lessons for a total duration of five weeks in all, how much would that total to? Thanks again for your email, Pls do get back to me with the total amount for the above duration mentioned above and we can proceed on arrangements then.

Mr. [sender]

Mr. [sender],

I can certainly make that work for [student]. Since it is [rate] twice a week, it will be [rate] x 5 = [total] USD total. I currently have openings in my schedule Mondays and Wednesdays at [times] or earlier. We can meet in the practice rooms at the [university] starting the week after Christmas. Will this work?

[recipient], Violin

And here comes the kicker.

Hello again [recipient],

I'm delighted to know we are in agreement here and I'm happy to know you are able to coach [student] with her lessons..I am also fine with starting first week of January.. What we really want for her is just a general brush-up with her Violin and in any areas she might have difficulties with. [student] will be coming along with her Violin and music book but you can go ahead and bring any that you think will be helpful. My wife and I discussed about your rates and at this point, I'm most delighted to say we have a deal.

I want you to know that my wife and I had initially hired a private coach for [student] and he was supposed to coach her for three months which we already paid him upfront for but just before we concluded on lesson days and time, he lost his wife and decided to quit teaching and take proper care of his family but he has long agreed to have my money sent to any alternative teacher who'll be handling [student] with her lessons. Now I could have had my sister receive the funds on my behalf and pay you daily or weekly as the case may be but the thing is, My sister at this time is 8 months pregnant with her first child and I don't think her husband will appreciate me giving her any extra activities if you know what I mean.

So i'll instruct to have the funds issued and sent out to your location but I'll need you to have your costs for [student]'s lessons as agreed at ([total]) deducted from the funds received which totals $2,850 [note: WAY more than I asked] then have what's left sent out to [student]'s travel agent as the funds will be used in securing her flight tickets/BTA and travel documents as this is highly required upon her arrival at the American airport according to the American Immigration rules as applicable to an international student. I'll provide you with traveling agents details to send the balance after you receive payment.

If this works with you [recipient], I'll need you to provide me with your full name as to be written on the payment,your contact address(where the payment will be sent to) and your phone numbers to call you and I'll instruct to have the payment issued and sent out to your location asap. Truthfully,I must say [student] is excited about meeting you as she has been telling her friends over the phone about her new coach in the states, have a great one and I'll wait to read from you and i can make relevant arrangements then.Also anytime or day of the week that suits you best for lessons works just fine with us as [student]'s schedule for now is fully open.

Mr. [sender]

Although believable up to this point, I decided to Google "violin lesson scam" and found out this is a pretty common one. Basically, you receive a large (fake) cashier's check, deposit it into your bank account and deduct a significant amount to send back to them. By the time their check bounces, you've just given a scammer thousands of dollars. (To be honest, at first I was just uncomfortable with the liability of being entrusted with such a large amount of money, coupled with the responsibility of caring for this world-traveling 12-year-old. I mean, that's a lot to entrust a stranger with, don't you think?)

This is the response I sent back:

Mr. [sender],

Is there a reason why your sister's husband is unable to handle payment in person? If this will be impossible, then I'm sorry to say I will have to recommend a different violin teacher.

[recipient], Violin

I'm glad I didn't give him much information at all, since we were corresponding over the Internet. Thankfully, no harm was done!

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