Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Scam on Musicians

I got an email the other day that was so specifically tailored and semi-believable that I actually responded. Someone (allegedly a priest, currently in England) claimed that they liked my music and wanted to hire me to play an anniversary event at a specific address in Conyers. Very nice, I responded, but since I'm a variety artist, what kind of group did you want, and what size? What did you see of mine that you liked, and I'll play that. The response came back in a totally different writing style from the original letter, using classic teenspeak (all lower case, "u" and "4" as abbreviations for "you" and "for", no real sentence construction, etc.) saying essentially that he didn't remember what he'd heard, on "some talent site". Hmmm, spidey senses tingling. Still wanted a quote.

I sent a quote for a nice party act, four players and a female singer. He responded, in a much more adult writing style this time, that the price was agreeable, and that he'd send me $200 more than I was asking so that I could advance some money to his associate here before his (the "priest") arrival. Whoa, big red flag! Not only not enough money for any caterer or florist that I know of, but I've never heard of the band being involved in money handoffs to others.

So I inquired further about the local phone number and contact name at the venue in question, so I could nail down the load-in times and electrical availability. I declined his generous offer for extra money, and said I'd be happy with just the amount I'd quoted but didn't want to handle his other business for him, that his "associate" should do that. I said that PayPal or certified cashier's check would be just fine, and as soon as my bank was happy with the transfer we could proceed. I never heard from him again.

Since then, I've learned more about this type of scam. A fake check arrives, with orders to redistribute parts of the money to other parties. The bank takes a while to figure out that the check is fake, but the victim has already given out the real money. Beware!

The Top 25 Lies

My well-meaning friends keep sending on all those rubbish hoax emails about a variety of things, from the Invitation torch virus to the Clinton Circle of Death to rants attributed to Andy Rooney, George Carlin and others. One of those stories I got recently was about Australian Santas being ordered to say "Ha ha ha" instead of "Ho ho ho", apparently composed by one of those guys who hates political correctness so much that he actually makes up lies about it. Look, if I wanted to hear crap like this, I'd listen to AM radio. I keep asking my friends to please use Google to check this stuff before remailing it, but noooo...

So, here's the deal. You can stay ahead of the crap curve by reading Snopes.com's Hottest 25 Urban Legends , a daily updated list of the fecal flood you're most likely to be sent. What the heck, make it your browser's start page. If (make that when) someone sends you yet another email about Obama being a radical muslim, or H.Clinton being a baby-eater, you can just direct them to this page for starters, and the specific page pertaining to their spam du jour. Keep yourself even further ahead of the foolish forwarders by reading the very latest reports on the What's New page.

It's like a condom to protect your brain...