Lately there's a strange scam afoot: people faking that they are playing the violin, asking for money. Instead of actually playing, they are miming to a hidden soundtrack.
So what exactly is the scam? Beyond the obvious insult to real musicians and real buskers, some of the buskers ask for donations and use credit card skimmers to steal personal information. They also manipulate emotions with an exaggerated sob story, posting signs asking for money to deal with hard times: needing money to help their mother pay rent, for example, or to pay medical bills or to support a family.
The problem is, they are not musicians at all, they are completely faking the violin-playing.
The scam inspired a recent Violinist.com discussion about fake violin buskers, making me wonder, how widespread is this? News stories about it seem to come from all over the U.S. (here's another story, from Arizona) and beyond.
All of this, of course, is bad news for real buskers hoping to earn a little extra money during the holiday season. While the difference between a real player and a faker would probably be extremely obvious to readers of this site, apparently some people are more easily fooled.
With this scam gone public, people will be suspicious of "fake violin buskers," possibly casting a wary eye real players, who are actually busking.
So here are my questions for you this week: Have you encountered any of these scammers yourself? Has this been in the news, in your own community? What are your thoughts about this scam? Does it harm real musicians? Please participate in the vote and share your thoughts.
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