Friday, September 20

how an innocent piano teacher (me) almost got scammed

wow. I feel like I just dodged a really large bullet. 

This is the story of how I almost got scammed.
It all started this week when I got an email from a lady named Jenny saying (in broken english) that her daughter was coming to stay in the area for 4 weeks. She wanted to keep her daughter busy by having her take piano lessons twice each week for an hour each lesson.
I immediately thought, "awesome! that's some good money right there, even if it is only 4 weeks."

We emailed back and forth and after a few emails I started to notice that she wasn't answering any of my questions:
where are you from?, how long will your daughter be here?, etc.
I still didn't think much of it, until she said: My agent will be mailing you a check today with the total amount for the lessons +the piano books+ my daughter's travel expenses (lodging, airfare, etc.) + $50 extra for your efforts. You will cash the check and then my daughter will pick up the extra money from you.
**red flags**
Why in the world would I need to be in charge of passing on extra money for your daughter's "traveling expenses"?

So I emailed her back and said I didn't feel comfortable with receiving extra money and that I just wanted the payment for the lessons.
She responded with: My agent sent the check in the mail. Please notify me when you receive it and cash the check. My daughter will come to the lessons and you can give her the money. blah blah blah.
She basically disregarded everything I had just emailed her.

So I emailed her this: 
I'm sorry, but I will NOT ACCEPT EXTRA FUNDS TO GIVE TO YOUR DAUGHTER. Since you aren't answering any of my questions, I don't think this is going to work out. When I receive the check, I will destroy it. Your unwillingness to respond to my questions is not compliant with my policies as a teacher and I will not be teaching your daughter. Thank you for your understanding. 


And she hasn't responded since.
(I'm pretty sure if it was legit, the person would've emailed me back and said okay we will just pay you for the lessons.)

So i have been investigating the situation and I googled "scam where you get sent a check" and all sorts of articles popped up, all reminding me of her emails and the wording and what she wanted me to do. The reason why I didn't think anything of it in the beginning was because she would be sending me money and it was hard for me to imagine how it could turn into a bad situation or a scam. It's not like I would be wiring money or sending money to someone.
BUT in an article online I read, it says 
"You don’t have to wait long to use the money, but that doesn’t mean the check is good. Under federal law, banks have to make the funds you deposit available quickly–usually within one to five days, depending on the type of check. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check. It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered and the check to bounce.
"You are responsible for the checks you deposit. When a check bounces, the bank deducts the amount that was originally credited to your account. If there isn’t enough to cover it, the bank may be able to take money from other accounts you have at that institution, or sue you to recover the funds. In some cases, law enforcement authorities could bring charges against the victims because it may look like they were involved in the scam and knew the check was counterfeit."

So if I would've cashed a check from this lady and some girl (disguised as a piano student) or her "guardian" came to pick up the money for her "travel expenses", if it turned out to be a fake check I would have to come up with the money for the bank. 

Holy moly. That was a close call.

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