Piano Selling Scam
Nicole O., California
Hello fellow teachers! I was recently the target of an elaborate piano selling scam and wanted to share my experience. This is what I reported to econsumer.gov just now:
I received an email from Lina Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org) about her late husband’s grand piano that she was giving away. She wanted to know if I would take it or if I knew someone who would take it.
I emailed back asking for dimensions, moving instructions, etc. She responded quickly with beautiful photos of the grand piano from three angles. It was set in what looked like a living room. She included information about the brand, tuning history and location of the piano. The grammatical errors in her writing should have been a clue.
She said the piano was in Johnson City, TN and if I was interested I could have it moved to Santa Monica, CA. I wrote back saying that the cost to move it wouldn’t be feasible for my student’s family. She wrote back quickly with a contact email and website for Gregories Moving which happens to be in Johnson City, TN.
I emailed the “company” and included the Reference Code that Lina gave me. The moving company quickly responded with details about the piano and how much it would cost to move it from their location to Santa Monica. $680 for a 10 day delivery. I forwarded all of this exciting news to my student’s mom and she quickly responded with a “yes, we want it!”.
She contacted the movers and set it up for delivery. However, when she asked for their mailing address, the non-English speaker on the phone (she said he sounded Philipino with a fake southern accent), insisted that she simply send the money via Venmo to his personal account.
This, along with many other red flags pointed to a scam. The good news is that she did not send any money.
This was the second scam of this kind that I was a target for. And unfortunately, I went down a similar rabbit hole with the same student’s family. The bummer in both cases was the emotional swing of excitement, disappointment and anger.
Be on the lookout for this type of “too good to be true” opportunity.
It is a pretty well thought out scam until you get on the phone with the mover. Frustrating to be on their reel.
Original discussion started October 10, 2020