Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yet Another Piano Lesson Scam Email

Earlier today, a teacher from British Columbia forwarded me the latest version of the classic piano lesson scam email they had recently received:
Hello Teacher,
I am Paul Wayne, I am 59 years of age , I will like you to know that i got your e-mail as a private teacher and i will like to know if my daughter can join your private class. My daughter name is Lucia, she is coming over to your country for long vacation starting from 7th of March, 2011 and at the same time i like her to get lesson in with you, she is 16 years old, she is a beginner, first language (English), best hobby(reading). I hope you will accept her as your student?. So I'll really appreciate it if you could be a part time teacher for her during her stay...You will be teaching her for 45 minute lesson a day for 2 days in a week which will be for just 8 weeks. So, kindly let me know your charges cost per week in order for me to arrange for the payment before she travels down to the States. I would also like to know if there is any Text Book you will recommend for her as a beginner so that she will be reading privately at home after the lesson during her stay.
Please Advise back on;
(1) Your charges per 45 minute lesson a day, twice a week for 4 weeks?
(2) The Day and time you will be available to teach her During the week?
(3) Tuition address?
I will be looking forward to read from you soonest.
Best Regards

If you get an email such as this, do not respond to it. You will get a cheque in the mail for a large sum, followed by a series of aggressive calls and emails asking for the difference between what they sent and what your rate would be. If you send the perpetrator a cheque for the difference, the original cheque will bounce.

Fortunately, the teacher who forwarded this letter wisely did not respond. However, I have heard that music teachers do sometimes respond to these emails, and I know of at least one person who has lost a sizable amount of money from an email such as this.

To get an idea of the stakes, lets's assume that one does respond, and offers a quote for 8 lessons at $45 per lesson plus $50 for sheet music, which would add up to $410. When they receive a check in the mail for $5000 and the perpetrator apologizes for the mixup and kindly, then aggressively asks for the difference, one would wire them $4590, then get an unfortunate call from the bank a few days later, informing them that the $5000 check previously deposited has bounced. By then, the perpetrator will have received the amount and disappeared.

Music teachers who are members of registered music teachers' associations and directories are particularly at risk for receiving these pesky emails. Don't respond to them.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Chris. People need to know the the web isn't always what you might want it to be.

    I was thinking just now whether people have nothing else to do. Earlier today there were 11 spam comments on my blog, followed by 18 more from the same source.

    Everyone get out your spam blockers!

  2. Anonymous4:17 PM

    hi! i recieved this email today, and (stupidly)responded. But then suddenly realized that it was not right. what should i do now? i suppose i should expect something in the post but should i just ignore it????aah

  3. If you respond, you'll get the bogus cheque right away, followed by a panicked call to return some of the money at once. When you get the cheque and phone call, it would be best to contact your local police force right away and inform them of the scam-in-progress. Don't under any circumstances deposit the cheque or send the scammer the partial rebate.

  4. Anonymous5:27 AM

    yeah for sure. thanks.
    to any other teachers watch out because the email i recieved was very well written and just like lots of genuine requests i've received. admittedly, it slowly unravelled over the course of the dialogue and now i'm just receiving short emails saying 'can i have yr bank details'. hehe