Music Teacher Scam – Beware!

Music teachers should be aware of this music teachers’ cheque (check) scam that did the rounds a while ago. I’m quite impressed that Google (well, my Gmail account) initially correctly picked this up as spam – I only spotted it when I randomly checked my spam mail folder, which I rarely do. Don’t get caught out by this one – have a read of what happened.

The scam goes something like this…

  • You receive an e-mail from someone out of the blue wanting a block of music lessons for their son / daughter while they’re on holiday. In my case they wanted 2 x 1 hour lessons per week for 6 weeks, at my then rate of £20/hr that would be £240 total. This instantly looked suspicious since 2 x 1 hour lessons per week is pretty intensive.

  • They ask to pay in full, in advance by cheque (yes, unusual for someone you’ve never met!) and ask for your address details to post it to.

  • There now seems to be a few variations of what happens next. Either they’ll send you a cheque for more than you were expecting and come up with some baloney for why you should cash it anyway (like, hold it for their child to purchase their ticket for the return journey, or some other hogwash). So you bank it. OR they send you the correct amount. Either way, at some point they’ll ask for some or all of the money to be wired back to them (lessons cancelled, they’ve built their own plane and don’t need to buy a ticket any more – whatever, they’re scamming lowlife).

  • You faithfully transfer the difference back to them.

  • Obviously it was a fraudulent cheque and eventually it bounces – but this can sometimes take months! Not a lot you can do, you’ve lost your money to a scamming scumbag who just took you for a ride.

How to avoid being scammed as a music teacher

  • As a general rule of thumb only accept cash or credit card payment until you know or have at least met the person. If it sounds too good to be true, like advance payment for lessons from someone you’ve never met, it almost certainly is too good to be true!

  • Find out their full address and phone number. Speak to them over the phone before booking anything in. These people are normally frightened of actual conversation with a human being so you’ll quickly work out what’s going on.

  • If it sounds suspicious don’t take any block bookings to start with – just go for individual lesson payments until you establish they’re actually legitimate students.

Here’s what the mail trail looked like for reference – obviously substitute the names / e-mail addresses with whatever address they decide to make up at the time.  Same scam appears to be used for violin teachers, piano teachers and all sorts of other professions:-

“On 27 February 2013 12:40, Andrea Barton <> wrote: Hello, I am writing to know If you can teach my daughter private drum lessons for 6 weeks starting from March 11, 2013. My daughter’s name is Mary, she is 15 years old ,I just don’t want her to be less busy when she arrive in the Country for her holiday so I just want her to get hooked up with one thing or the other, since she has not in the school. You know what I’m talking about. It can be private lesson. Let me know how much you charge per hour and let me know the total for 12 lessons. You can take her on any day convenient for you for 2 hours lesson 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. Have a nice day. Best regards. Andrea Barton”

==== I reply, yes you can have lessons, give lesson rates etc. ====

“On 28 February 2013 11:24, Andrea Barton <> wrote: Hello, Thanks for the mail..This is this is agreeable to me, and we can talk further prior our arrival to your area for the lesson. So your total teaching cost is £240 for 6 weeks tutor. I will arrange for a home stay nearby your home for my daughter for the period of the lesson. My daughter will be around in a few days after we’ve got concluded. As i said, all arrangements for my daughter to join you in your location has been made before. She is a beginner, she has not experienced much but she is a very fast learner and will not portray any difficulties while you coaching/teaching her.Like i sad, i have someone that will always drive her to your location for the lesson. I will like you to know that we are paying you by a check drawn from a bank in your Country, since this requires honesty and transparency, i have a customer in your country who will be sending you the payment on my behalf and he has promised to issue a Check to send to you in respect of the payment of the lesson for my daughter, in other words, i will ask him to issue you a Check that can be cleared at your bank instantly since it is within your country because it’s easier this way. This saves us time and because i want you to receive your fees before my daughter’s arrival at your location so that she is occupied immediately she arrives and does not lose any day of lessons except you not capable or physical fit to teach her for that day and due to incomplete arrangements between us. I will order him to issue the Check out to you at once and once you have received the Check and been cashed, you can schedule the time and day of the lesson for my daughter. So, i will want you to send me your full name, full mailing address and phone number both home and office as soon as possible so that i can ask my customer to have the Check sent to you on my behalf. I will be waiting to read from you back soonest to confirm that you got my e-mail. I await your urgent response with your full information for the payment of lesson! Andrea”

Here’s a few links to reports of similar scams:-

Last updated: 28 May 2019
Originally published: 6 Feb 2013