There are several scams that commonly target music teachers. These include:
- "Free" grand piano
- Wanting to pay for a large number of lessons up front
- Warnings that your Facebook page violates T&Cs (not specific to music teachers, but included as this one is rife!)
A few red flags to look out for when gauging if an initial email is a scam include:
- The email address doesn't match the name of the person
- An attractively large amount of money / value is being offered
- The English is usually quite poor (not from a native speaker)
- It is trying to induce fear of bad consequences if you don't respond (in the case of the Facebook scams)
These scams particularly ramp up in late November / early December in the lead up to Christmas. If you receive a scam message, just delete it. You might also like to report it to Scamwatch
The "Free" Grand Piano
The adage that if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is definitely applies to this common scam. This scam offers a free grand piano, often because it belonged to the sender's spouse who has passed away. You only need to pay for "shipping".
Should you respond, often the piano is already enroute somewhere, and you are advised to contact the "shipping company" directly and pay them for the delivery. This shipping company is bogus, and once you have paid, they will ghost you.
Music Lessons with a Driver bringing children
This scam may be a little harder to spot in their first email as it can be a very generic enquiry about music lessons, though knowing nothing at all about you is often a red flag as that means that what you teach and where you are doesn't matter to them. If you answer their enquiry the response has telltale signs:
- A large number of lessons requested, with a particularly odd way of distinguishing the gender and ages of students
- An odd request for what to learn during the lessons. Often they won't specify an instrument, but ask about generic music concepts.
- There will usually be a sob story about illness that will include the fact that a driver will be bringing the students to lessons.
Don't waste your time answering an enquiry like this. If you do, you will find they will want to use a specific method of payment, which is where the scam lies. They will either want to use a credit card or ask you to sign up to "Clover Go". There are two possibilities for how you can get scammed with this one, depending on how they want to manage payment:
- They will want to transfer you a month or more of lesson payments for multiple children, sometimes having more than 1 lesson each per week, and will also give you the payment for the "driver". They will ask you to send the payment to the driver, all before lessons commence. Once you pay the driver, they will reverse the transaction they made to you, and you will wind up out of pocket for what you paid the driver.
- In the case of the "Clover Go" app that the scammer wants you to use, the potential trap is unwittingly getting yourself stuck on a contract for hefty processing fees that will cost you a fortune to try to terminate.
This one was not immediately obvious (though being so generic did raise red flags); their response showed that they didn't actually read my email, but simply moved on to cutting and pasting the next part of their script:
Hello, My name is Suzanne Coburn. I will like to know if you can take my kids for Music Lessons, are you the owner and do you accept credit card as mode of payment?.
Thank you so much for the prompt response, I want to make an appointment for Music Lessons ( guitar ) for my kids.Gary and Mary. Boy age(17) and Girl age (13) 45 minutes lesson, once a week. Am in the hospital recuperating the diagnosis of the lung cancer so at this point i really want the best for my Kids since i lost there dad two year ago.
Kindly get back to me with the total estimate for 3 months Music Lessons for my kids and what credit card merchant service do you use to process credit card payment in your studio?.
Thanks for the reply, you don't need to travel to them, they will be coming to your studio for the lessons and they are both sharing the lesson. Kindly get back to me with the grand total cost for the kids lesson ASAP.
Like said earlier, i will be paying through my credit card and my credit card does not work well with Paypal and square merchant service so i don't mind if you can setup a new merchant service with Clovergo merchant and i don't mind paying for the setup fee. All you need to do is to click on this link https://www.clover.com/get-started
Just fill out this form on there website and register with them don't worry i will be paying for the setup fee alright.
God bless you
Facebook Page Warning
This one has evolved, initially from Facebook pages that called themselves something along the lines of "Community Support" and a string of numbers tagging you in a post on their own page claiming that something on your Facebook page violates the terms of service and that your page would be shut down. At present it is presenting as Facebook accounts masquerading as Meta Support (or today "Artificial Intelligence" and using the Meta logo) sending your page a private message warning that your page is likewise violating the terms of service / copyright / trademarks.
They try to trick you into clicking a link, which could result in them stealing the log in credentials for your Facebook account and taking over control of your Facebook page.