If you are running a music studio, music school, dance school or indeed any other childrens enrichment establishment you need to be on the lookout for this SCAM. I have seen it several times at our studio, and know of one of our music studio customers who lost several thousand dollars to one just like it.
It all starts with an encouraging email like this:
BEWARE! Some emails are more convincing than this, but here is what you can expect if you follow through...
Subject: voice lesson
Date: May 11, 2017 at 8:37:28 PM EDT
How are you doing today ?
I got your details while surfing the internet.
I would like to make personal VOICE LESSONS schedule for my
children. They are three females and one male with
ages of ages 18,20 and 22.
I would like them to be coming two times in a week for 12 weeks.
Let me know when they can start as well.
Kindly let me know the cost for each person and the total cost for
that and also the types of payments that you accept.
- A friendly and convincing "customer" will schedule lessons and will need to pay up front using their credit card. Usually this will be an unusually large amount - in the thousands of $
- The logistics will be unusual, and perhaps they are out of the country but they have hired a driver to bring the kids to the lessons. In any event there will be third party involved
- The charge goes through fine and you are flush with cash. They just ask that you pay the driver, who needs a money order or bank transfer which they can't do themselves, but it is included in the credit card payment you took so that's ok - right? - WRONG - This is where you know 100% it is a SCAM
- The kids will never show up, and after a few weeks you get a chargeback notice on the credit card. It turns out the card was stolen.
- Now your cash is gone, you have a small chargeback fee to pay, and you are out the amount you sent the "driver" using a non reversable money order.
At YourVirtuoso we have fraud prevention processes we run for the music studios who manage payments through us, but however you handle music lesson payments and autopay, you need to be suspicious whenever you get an unusual request for services, and keep your wits about you.
Music studio management can be challenging. A good enrollment tracking system like YourVirtuoso helps, but you are the first line of defense against these scammers.