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Scammers target local bands - don't get ripped off

by John Fitzgerald, Founder, Local Band Network

There has been a lot of fraud activity lately targeting members of the Local Band Network site (as well as other local band sites). As if making it as a local band is not hard enough. There are people out there preying on bands' excitement to get booked. Since I sent out an email to the thousands of bands registered on localbandnetwork.com I have received a few responses from people that have been taken and at least 30 responses from people that were targeted but saw through the ruse.

Here are some tips for recognizing this fraud and avoiding it. Below the tips is a transcript one of the LBN members sent me showing the back and forth.

Signs of potential fraud:

  1. Poor grammar, misspelled words, weird capitalization.
  2. Huge sense of urgency. They want this to happen fast.
  3. They want you to travel a long distance even though they have never heard of you.
  4. They want to buy large amounts of merch. (I know your CD is great but when someone wants to buy 30 of them before the show you should be nervous.)
  5. They won't return phone calls.
  6. They don't answer your questions about the gig.
  7. It's for a "bachelor party" for 300+ people. Come on. How many bachelor parties are that big? Make sure the number of people makes sense.
  8. They are willing to pay any price you quote.
  9. They want to add in other services and have you pay them by wiring the money.
  10. It involves wiring money. Period.

How to avoid being a victim of a local band scammer:

  1. Check THEIR references. Many people check yours before they hire you; you should do the same.
  2. ALWAYS have a signed contract and payment at least 30 days in advance. sample contract
  3. Use PayPal.
  4. Hire a manager who can remain objective.
  5. If you must take a money order, only cash it at the place where it was issued. They seem to like the US Postal Service money orders. Take it to the post office to have them check it for fraud.

Share your experiences here

Now, the email I got and transcript of a fraud. Note the warning signs of fraud.

This is part of what they call the “Nigerian 419 scams”! They call it “419”, because that is the number relating to the criminal code that prohibits the country’s people from participating in this type of activity! The gist of the scam is to book great sounding and high paying gigs out of town with your site members then send payment up front in the form of U.S. Post Office money orders and even cashier’s checks. [This is a band’s dream to get a high paying gig out of town and be paid up front, so it would be hard for the average band to turn down. And because most Americans believe that a Post Office Money Order is sort of money in the bank in a sense, this payment will create excitement.] The part that most band guys (and the average person) will miss is that the payment will include an enormous overpayment that the scammer will justify in some way. This payment would cause most band guys to feel lucky and spend some of the money right away. Of course, in the end, the payments are fake, but very hard to detect. The bands on your site are expected to cash or deposit these checks in their own bank accounts. The scammers will even convince the band guys not to cash the payment at the Post Office (The Post Office would surely catch it right away, because they now have fraud scanners at most counters). Most banks would not detect that they have been given fakes unless they have been tipped to be aware, especially if the check is deposited thru an ATM. Meanwhile the scammers contact the band and create an excuse to receive back some of the overpayment {If you read my email transcripts you’ll see the set up for the refund}. Once the scammer has convinced the band guys to refund the overpayment, the scammer will say that he is out of the country for a short period of time, and ask that it be sent to a so-called friend or relative at a U.S. address through Western Union. The scammer claims he will get it when he returns. They are not friends or relatives! [This friend or relative gives the scammer a valid address to use. Yet that so-called friend/relative is also being scammed too, but in another way, and is not aware of the band scam at hand. They are just receiving money from Western Union and sending it to the scammer. They are caught up in those “I need a place to deposit money in the U.S., and I will give you a percentage if you send me back my money” type of Scams!). So the scammer expects your band to Western Union the overpayment. Which might be okay with most band guys, because the band guys would still have an enormous pay left over at hand, or so they would think! Because after a couple weeks the banks would verify the money orders/checks are fake and go after your band members for the money and prosecute them for Federal fraud. Furthermore, guess what? The bands have spent a portion of the money, so now the bank will be trying to prosecute, plus get back the money they paid out to the check casher. If you don’t comply with the scammers they are known to email you with insults if you have cashed the payment but will not agree to Western Union the money. They laugh that you will be going to jail! If you refuse to participate from the beginning, in most cases they will move on, because they are in Internet Cafés, and would have to pay for wasting time on smart people. I advise that you tell all your registered bands to not accept upfront payment in the form of money orders; not to accept any overpayments; not to move on an agreement over the Internet until it is Officially verified as legitimate, etc.--- Cash Money is King (but these days you might want to even take a closer look at the bills). I have been running businesses on the Net since 1997, so it was easy for me to be spot the tell-tale signs. But this attempt was still very impressive by using local band network! They also target other unsuspecting businesses and people who use the Net a lot. Okay, I have put together a good example of how the scam is being used on the “local band network” site. These are transcripts from the actual email encounter. Watch the obvious, intentional miscommunication and avoidance on the part of the scammer. And notice bad grammar, or strange grammar that they will commonly use which should set off flags. I will be referred to as “Anonymous”, and my comments on the scam's progress will have an *asterisk by them in the transcripts! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Sat, 19 May 2007 12:56:16pm FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Hello, I was searching for a band that will perform in my friend’s bachelor's party and I came across your advert on the Local band website, please I will like to know the style you play, the party was scheduled for the Last Saturday of June 06/30, and also there is another party on the last Saturday in July 07/28. Please let me know if you have an open on any of those days. This is a private party and the bands are not allow to come with their fan, and your band will be performing in the front of 350 guests I will furnish you with more information as soon as I know you have an open. Can you perform on an event that will last for four hours long with breaks? I will appreciate it if you can respond to this mail as soon as you can. Regards, Ted



ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Sun, 20 May 2007 11:23:30pm

Hi, I'm kinda in a hurry! I will email you again tommorrow! We do mainly top 40, old school R&B. My music works with ALL audiences who want to party and have a good time! Will email again with more!



ANONYMOUS> wrote back NEXT DAY: Mon, 21 May 2007 10:41:36am

Hey Ted, yes we are available June 30 and July 28! A lot of the events we do last 4-6 hours, so no problem, as long as we get time for breaks! I'm not sure what type of music you want, but we do music that all crowds like, especially if they are dancing and partying! It's top-40 R&B, Pop, Rock, Island, etc. People of all groups have had the chance to experience the band, and in each case, they are always satisfied! (I can give you venue names or references if needed). Our rates can be reasonable, but everything is based on travel, dress requirements, event size, and amount of time spent at the event! The website (current being rearranged) is www.anonymousband.com

Email me back with location, dress requirements, times, etc. Or Please call me at anonymous#, or anonymous#2 to discuss further! Thanks for checking us out!


*[At this point: I am really a little excited about this opportunity and he can tell.]


Mon, 21 May 2007 2:55:43pm FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com


It's good to read from you, the party is going to hold in Jacksonville, and you have to dress coporate. The

performance time is 6:pm, and you have to be here by 5pm. Do you sell cd's? let me know what it's going to cost me to have you on that day. Regards, Ted.

*[Wow, this sucker makes this crap sound real. You think he is a sucker with money to spend!]


ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Mon, 21 May 2007 9:25:00pm Hey Ted, Yes I usually sell CD's and stuff at our shows (to answer that question).

Now I want to get a little more specific and serious about an event like this. I would love to travel to Jacksonville, heck I went to College in a City near there and haven't been back that way in about a year. But these are the things to keep in mind when hiring a band in our situation. Our minimal costs are based on the following:

*Transportation to get the Band and all equipment from my City in Fl. to Jacksonville! (It's approximately 300 miles one way, don't forget.) This would include any vehicles and gas.

*Housing for while we're there. We'd definitely need a place to rest from the drive, eat, and change, etc.

*Each of the 5 to 6 Band members (TBA) has their fee for playing the show that night with me.

Now I know that everyone would have a good time and be talking about the event for years, but it's not the cheapest thing when you are trying to make an event like this memorable. We have figures for what it would cost, but I would rather you give ME an idea of what you expect to spend, or what you are budgeted for getting a good band to travel that far and put on an unforgettable night! That way, if we are not in your budget, we can save a lot of time. Yet if your figures show you are already financially prepared to make this a good night, I will send you an actual numbers breakdown that would be in the contract. And we could get the ball rolling ASAP! It's obvious that this would cost in the thousands, right? I guarantee We will look and sound the part of the professional entertainment you need, if you are serious about making this happen. And the July 28 event would cost in the same general ball park, give or take! So if you are ready to move forward, then give me an idea what you want to spend on good entertainment. By the way, I could include a DJ and sound man that travels with me in this deal for the same price! And the band has references (black and white-- young and old folks) that will tell you that my band is worth your money!

I would love to talk about this over the phone, if we can. I would like to tell you a little more about us and learn a little more about you and what you expect from us! The sooner the better, because we will need planning time.

call me! We can make it happen!

*Now at this point I’m taking him serious but curious on why he seems dumb about how booking works, so that’s why I’m throwing the specifics at him to make sure he understands how my band works. I still don’t suspect a Nigerian Scam at this point though! I kinda think it may be some punk kid feeling out how to market his own band.

But I’m ready to play to the end.


Tue, 22 May 2007 3:18:03pm FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

I’ll love to have you here, let me know what it’s going to cost for the transportation. I can book an hotel for you before you arrive let me know how many members of tha band that will be coming, and

how many rooms do you want me to reserve for you? Let me know what it’s going to cost me if you will include a DJ and a soundman with you to the occasion. I will want you to name a price so that I’ll pay; I know it’s going to cost more than a thousand. Let me know what it’s going to cost me to have you on that day. Regards, Ted.


ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Wed, 23 May 2007 4:36:51pm TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Ted, you asked for the best and this approximately what it would take to have The Anonymous band come to Jacksonville and do what we do [assuming that we will setup an average staged event]:

We would need to leave Our City early Saturday morning June 30, 2007 and arrive before 11:00am. We would meet you, or whomever will be in charge, at the designated Hotel where we would check in the Rooms. We would then go to the performance location and map out the show setup. The sound crew/DJ would then stay and be completely set up way before 3:00, while the band would go back to the hotel to get dressed and return by 4:00 to do a sound check. Then we'd start the show at 6:00.

*We will need to have for 1 night at least 5 Hotel Rooms to house 6 band members, 2 roadies, sound man/DJ, and driver. Or you could just get 3 large hotel suites with multiple rooms/beds and 1 regular hotel room.

*We will need Transportation for the band, crew, and all equipment to travel approximately 600+ miles round trip. This includes transportation for people, the P.A. system equipment, Drums, Bass/amps, Guitars/amps, keyboards/amps, luggage, etc. that we use, and a designated driver.

*PRICE for The Anonymous Band to perform in J-ville (6 musicians): $2600 *PRICE for the complete services of our roadies, sound/lighting man crew, and DJ to travel to Jacksonville with us: $1200 (bundled necessity) *PRICE for Transportating the band, crews, and All equipment to J-ville and back (Gas/Rental Vehicles): $2,300 *PRICE for either 5 Hotel rooms, or 2 large Hotel suites with multiple rooms/beds and 1 regular room: This would be left up to you to provide, just as long as the accomodations are decent.[If we have to set reservations, then that would be added to the total price!]

If you are able to handle the cost, then let us know and I will have the contract sent to you with all the arrangements specified. We would then need half the total paid to us before June 15, 2007. Or 25% of the total if you would be willing to directly pay the transportation company that we will rent from by the June 15 date! And also show that the Hotel was paid/reserved for by that time! We definitely would need a deposit before we went that far to J-ville!

***Things I need to know right away***: Where exactly will this party be held? What is the exact address and name of the venue? What kind of music do you want played? What specific songs will you want played? Who exactly are you in relation to this event? Will the crowd be predominantly White? Black? Young? Old? Is the groom black, white, young, old?

I have opened for the Spinners, Najee, and played on the bill with Frankie Beverly, and Kool and the Gang! And in June we will have played on the bill with The Stylistics, Charlie Wilson (Gap Band), and Angela Winbush at Mango Festival! 80 percent of my audiences are white, yet my material works with absolutely every audience. We will be worth every penny of it! By the way, we sometimes charge just a little less than your price for events right here in Our County, so your price is as reasonable as can be! And here are some quotes from emails that I recently received related to Our band:

*[I deleted the attached references here from the original email to Ted. He must have felt that he had me hooked, I guess!]


Thu, 24 May 2007, FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Just calculate the performance fee alone, and I will provide transportation for you right here. I am no more interested in the DJ. Let me know what the total amount will cost and include the contract. Regards, Ted.

*[I felt that I may have sounded greedy in the prior email, so I willing to slow down!]


Thu, 24 May 2007 5:43:07pm ANONYMOUS> wrote back:

Hey Ted, I really appreciate you finding us and I would love to be able to make this event happen. We met and decided, Assuming this is a real deal, we will travel to Jacksonville and play this show for $2800! Now that's if You provide the hotel accomodations and the transportation to J-ville for the band members, plus their luggage, and instruments.

That just leaves the P.A. system, and the sound people that we need, which is a whole seperate cost I mentioned before. Please tell me if you have figured a way around that.


*The name, phone number, and mailing address of the person responsible for paying the band and all the accomodations. *The name of the person the event is being held for. *The physical address of the Party, including the zipcode. *The exact date and start time for the event. *The times we are expected to show up, play, break, and finish? *The details about transportation for the band to get to Jacksonville. *The details about the Hotel accomodations for the band. *The details about transporting our sound equipment and payment for the crew, or alternate plan. *Your plans for making a %50 deposit on our services by June 15, 2007, or only a %25 deposit if transportation and lodging has been secured and verified by June 15, 2007 . *Your plans for full payment for the band after performance.

***And again I ask for the make-up the crowd! Will they be mostly men, women, young, old, black, or white?

Let me know!

Anonymous Name


Fri, 25 May 2007 3:38:49pm Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Jacksonville University 2800 University Blvd North, Jacksonville,FL.32211

You are suppose to be here by 4:pm and the party will start by 6:PM. The name of the person the evnt is being hold for is John Bennard. The payment will be made by a check and i will send it to you as soon as possible so that you'll have it cashed

before you come to perform. Provide me with your full name and contact address, so that i'll send the payment to you as soon as possible. The dates are the two dates i sent to you in the fisrt message i sent to you, i'll book the hotel in about 1 week

before the sow, and you'll provide me with the numbers of rooms you want. Regards, Ted.

*[This sucker was just rolling with me because he thought he had a sucker. I contacted the address, but I wanted the gig more than I was concerned that the address didn’t make sense. I justified Ted as a student or faculty that the College just didn’t recognize at the moment, and he was renting a facility on campus!]


Wed, 30 May 2007 Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Okay Ted, I got a general contract about this deal. Please look it over and let me know if you have questions, changes, or additions. If you okay it, you can print it, sign it, and send it back to me at my address along with the check.

I still need to know what the make up of the crowd will be, and what exactly will be our transportation to Jacksonville. I'm easy, so give me a call at anonymous#!

*[At this point, I want to believe him! I want this money! But I keep asking him to call me if this is real. He avoids that all through the emails, and he is too stupid to just tell me he would get a freaking van or bus for transportation.]


Wed, 30 May 2007 10:07:27am FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Hello friend, According to the contract the check is to be issued to ANONYMOUS NAME, and mail to Anonymous’s mailing address, and your phone number is anonymous#. Please let me hear from you. Regards, Ted.

*[At this point: He’s gets excited that I’m hooked. Darn, I wanted this to be real, but…]


ANONYMOUS> wrote back:

Yes the information is correct. waiting on you to mail to the address! Please answer the question about the type of people that will be at the 2 parties. I need to make sure our music will match the people! And also I need to know more about transportation as soon as you can let me know. The more I know, the better we can be prepared.


Wed, 30 May 2007 11:40:11am FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Thanks for the mail, the age range is 22-50 years, and they are all going to dress coporate. Let me know what you like to know about transportation. Regards, Ted.

*[Uh oh, maybe Ted he is ready to show me that he knows what he is doing! But I must test him! And he’s still avoiding the transportation issue!]


ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Wed, 30 May 2007 1:40:33pm

Well, at this point these are the things I do know: The city, the date, the times, the dress. Who the event is for and the age of guests. You agree to the fees for playing.You will mail contract and payment. You will set up the hotels. You will provide transportation.

These are the things I don't know, but really have to know: 1.Where exactly will the event be held? (physical location). 2.How exactly will we be traveling and when will we get confirmation on reservations? 2.Do you have an alternate plan for sound equipment? If not, we will still need to be able to get our sound crew and sound equipment to Jacksonville. (In other words, we have to have speakers, amps, a mixer, a sound man, etc. to be able to produce sound for the audience. So either we have to transport my people, or you have to provide a sound system and someone to run it.) You see, you can transport the band by Bus, Plane, Train, or Van, etc. with our musical instruments, but a sound system would need a seperate vehicle, such as a U-haul rental truck to transport the equipment and crew. The original price I was giving you included paying my sound crew and transporting them to Jacksonville. So that's why I need more info on your transportation plans for the band and the sound equipment in order to let the sound people what is planned.

*[I am still trying to keep this big money deal intact! But he is not realizing that he hasn’t answered the pertinent questions.]


Fri, 8 June 2007 8:27:43am FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Good Day, I am sorry for not getting back to you for some days; I have been in Barcelona Spain preparing for the whole

thing. I’ve sent the payment from you, so that there is not going to be any delay. I think you’ll received it either

today or by tomorrow, please keep and eye for it, and I’ll want you to go ahead and cash it as soon as you

received it so that we will proceed on what next to do. I included some extra funds, because I’ll be having some parties in after some weeks, and I’ll love to have you also

to come over to play at the party. Please do email me back as soon as you received the payment, so that we’ll proceed. Regards, Ted.

*[Boy, it’s about to be payday! This is actually a legitimate deal after all---I WAS THINKING. Just awaiting the payment. In hindsight, I never saw anything in this email except that he was sending payment that would arrive soon!]


Fri, 8 June 2007 8:27:43am Ted Given givented@yahoo.com Good Day, I am writing to confirm if you have received the payment by now, it is suppose to have been deliver to you by now.

Let me know. If you have received it, I’ll want you to go ahead and cash it, so that we’ll proceed on what to do next. I’ll wait to reply if you have received it or not. Regards, Ted.

*[At this point I have informed the band and we are ready, but with reservation about this Ted person. I’m thinking, “Yeah, right he wants me to believe he sent the pre-payment”!]


ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Sat, 9 June 2007 1:23:46pm

No, I haven't received anything at this point! It's Saturday afternoon, and the mailman hasn't delivered yet. Did you send it by special mail.?


Sat, 9 June 2007 3:08:05pm FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Okay, i'll wait to read from you as soon as you received it. Regards, Ted.

*[Once again he totally ignored a question of mine!]


ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Mon, 11 June 2007 11:28:02pm

Ted, it's 11:30 and I got to go to bed, but I just checked mail and found your letter when I got home! I will email you tommorrow from work about the details! Thanks, I feel better now! Ha Ha.

*[I wrote this back because man-- I got home and saw that envelope full of 7 money orders at $850 apiece! I was on top of world. Man we were preparing to put on a show! At this point I’m thinking that I am just of too paranoid sometimes!]


Tue, 12 June 2007 4:56:15am FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Hello friend, It's good to read from you, i'll want you to take it to your bank this morning for cashing, so that we'll proceed on what to do next. Feel free to ask me any questions you have. Regards, Ted.

*[He’s coming off like he knows that my fears have been calmed, and I was kinda thinking that Ted was the greatest guy on earth afterall, but I still had strange feelings as to why he wouldn’t answer my constant questions about transportation and why he won’t call.]


ANONYMOUS> wrote back: Tue, 12 June 2007 10:07:25am

Okay, I have received 7 money orders totalling $5,950--That is what you sent right? (I will cash them at 3:30pm.)I am assuming that you are paying $2800 for June 30 performance, but I need you to tell me what you want us to do with the other $3,150. I assume it will at least be for a second performance in July, but tell me exactly what you want us to do.

We will be your band entertainment for the party, and we have set aside June 30, 2007. Our instruments and luggage will be packed and ready to go to Jacksonville for your first event. We want to arrive early enough Saturday to check in the Hotel and get organized. We are expecting that you will have Hotel rooms set up for us on that day. [We will check out the following day by noon]. We expect to go to the Party location by 2:00pm and be set up by 4:00pm. I guess we will begin playing at 6:00pm and finish around 10:00pm (with breaks). We will be dressed very nice, and We will playing high-energy dance music and ballads, mostly R&B! [Parties love it, so all will go well!]

And Do you have the plans for our transportation yet? (We need that information right away. And if we have to set it up, Transportation sometimes has to be booked 2-3 weeks in advance, so please let me know how we are supposed to get the equipment to Jacksonville as soon as possible!)

Please respond back ASAP. Or please just call me at anonymous#, or give me a phone number to reach you at. We've got to meet each other finally! We shouldn't be strangers when money is exchanged!


*[I wrote this back because I said, “Oh what the heck, I will do anything to earn this $5,590. Yet I’m also thinking that I got this man’s money, but I’m not sure he is on the same page about all the specifics.]


Tue, 12 June 2007 12:08:38pm FROM: Ted Given TO: anonymous email@email domain.com

Hello Anonymous, It's good to read from you, i have another suggestion, i'll like to have the refund for the second party, do the

first one, and after the first party if i see how your band perform, i'll proceed with the second payment. Yes, we are no more strangers as you said. Don't cash the money orders from yuorpost office, i'll prefer you to

cash them from your bank and keep the money in your account, and i'll let you know how to get the money back

from you. I am in Spain as i told you now, and an international check is not allowed here, it's going to take about 30 days

for it to clear the bank and i'll not stay that long here, So the best way to have the money sent to me is via

western union, and i'll email you the name of my cousine that you'll send the money to. I will have love to received

the money by my name but i have been a very busyman here it's my cousine that'll receive the money on my

behalf. I'll wait to read from you as soon as you have the check cashed today. Regards, Ted.

I am still waiitng to read from you, i think you should have had the payment cashed by now. Regards, Ted.

*[Now I’m thinking, “ Clown, are you crazy”? Yet I can see his point. I started feeling like I have made Ted scared ABOUT ME, so maybe he should just go with one show at a time! But the “Western Union” crap, and the “Don’t cash the money order at the Post Office” crap brought to mind an old scheme I remembered in the early Internet days. I didn’t know what to do. So I decided to go to the Post Office and put an end to my suspicions.

After a bunch of crap at the Post Office I went to ano

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