Written by Laurie Niles
Published: June 18, 2014 at 6:11 PM [UTC]
Heads up: the scam spam for music teachers might be getting slightly more clever.
I received one the other day, and it was a little harder to immediately discern it as spam. In these days of very casual e-mail correspondence, I've had some e-mail queries that are brief and lacking in things I'd consider important: identifying oneself by first and last name, telling me about your student, saying who referred you, etc. Nonetheless they turned out to be legitimate requests. In my very diverse city (Los Angeles), I can't always assume that slightly poor English = spam. Also, in the case of this e-mail I recently received, they'd taken care to have a fairly non-spammy-sounding name and e-mail address. Also, they actually ask for qualifications, which is a new element in the scam and designed, no doubt, to make you think they are serious.
Here was the first e-mail:
Do you offer private music lesson locally? Please tell me your present teaching location and your past teaching experience.
"Tell me your present teaching location" is suspicious; they don't know it? Though it's clever, because usually even in the same town, a prospective student wants to know exactly where you are. And of course there are the errors in English -- maybe just a non-native speaker, but also maybe a spam-bot. Out of curiosity, I thought I'd see if this was spam or not, so I wrote a brief response, indicating the city where I live and asking, why do you want lessons? Here was the response:
Thank you for the email. Will you be available to offer private tutoring for my daughter for 6 weeks starting from June 30, 2014. Her name is Lynn, she is 13 years old ,I just don't want her to be less busy when she arrive in your location for her holiday so I just want her to get hooked up with one thing or the other. Let me know how much you charge per hour and let me know the total for 6 weeks lesson. You can take her on any day convenient for you for 60 minutes lesson a day, 2 time per week for 6 weeks. You can just take her at your convenient schedule. Please tell me your past teaching experience and make up lesson. I hope to read back from you soon.
More specific, which makes it interesting. They give a date, they give a name, they talk a little bit like a parent would. But it has that familiar non-English-speaking spam tone, plus the big-time math problem we see in the conventional spam. Also "your location."
I wondered what else they'd say. I sent a reply: "What is your name? Where do you live? Where are you going on holiday? What piece does your daughter play? What instrument does your daughter play?"
I am presently in Ukraine with the family business, i want you to know that my phone has been having some problems. I will get it fixed in the next few days, or else get a new one, but in the meantime it isn't working. I just want to let you know so that you don't wonder why I'm not calling you back. I am sorry for the inconvenience. I want you to know that you will be meet with me prior our arrival to your Country to talk about what course of action would be best for my daughter. I want you to know that my daughter is coming over to your Country for an holiday and at the same time i will want her to get private lesson with you to keep her busy when she arrives there, she will be available at any time schedules for the lesson, so i will want you to create a schedule that will work best for you. She will be living close to your home, i have someone that will always drive her to your teaching location for the lesson. She will be coming with the materials she will need for the lesson, she will be practice in the place where she is staying so I would also like to know if there is any Text Book you will recommend for her. And 2 times per week over 6 weeks. I would be happy to discuss lessons in more details once we arrive in the Country for the lesson. If you are ready to welcome her in your private class, please give me your tuition price.
Well there you go.
Nonetheless, I found it to be slightly more sophisticated than ones I've seen in the past. As soon as you realized that something is a spam scam, stop responding. Certainly never under any circumstances give out bank account info, etc., to someone who wants to "pay in advance" from overseas, that's the crux of the scam. Also, don't accept a banker's check from a stranger; it's phony, and they often ask you to somehow give them an advance on the money they've "given" you. Here's a good primer on how to identify these scams, from from the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
As soon as I asked for Names, phone numbers and addresses, the inquiries stopped.
Also, I don't go onto paysites without first vetting them AND making sure that I am not on a spoof site. It is surprising how many big companies have common misspellings which are actually spoofed! Firstniagara misspelt as firstniagra comes to mind.
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