Bad people are out there – and some of them have their sights set on the the bellydance community. In particular, I’m talking about scam artists. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of people posting about this on Facebook, asking if a request for services they have received is legitimate. I have been getting these for so many years, I was really surprised that so many dancers had never seen or heard of it before. So as a public service to the bellydance community – I thought I’d get this on the record so we can spread some education and awareness and be on our guard against those that would design to steal your money out from under you.
How To Spot The Belly Dance Scam
In general, the communication comes as an email, although in the past 3 months I have also had several come as text messages. The wording is almost identical, the most current version requests choreography and lessons for a “flashmob” bridesmaids’ performance. In years past, they were more often a request for dance lessons for a child visiting from abroad, usually several lessons per week for a few weeks. Here are some screen shots of ones I’ve received in the past few weeks.
One laughable giveaway is that they often ask you to choreograph a John Legend song, “All of Me”. And exactly *why* are you coming to a bellydance teacher for that? Hmmm.
How Does This Belly Dance Scam Work?
It’s not immediately obvious just how this ruse works. They ask for a price for lessons for the bridesmaids and want to pay by credit card. The twist comes when they ask to add the driver’s fee to the charges, because this poor guy just can’t take credit cards. And you’re willing to help them out, right?
Once you’ve given the money to the driver, they reverse the card charge and – voila, they’ve got some of your money! I have gotten that far in the discussion with one person. I knew already that it was a scam, but I was just curious to probe the situation to see what more I could learn about it. Here’s a shot of the email conversation where they bring up the driver’s fees.
What Should You Do?
So now you know. What should you do if you get one of these propositions? Belly dancers that have been fielding them for years have taken a variety of approaches.
- You can have some fun stringing them along if you like. One dancer on Facebook said she demanded to be paid in birdseed, which made me laugh out loud – literally! I used to do this sometimes, but the entertainment value has long since dried up and I refuse to give them a second more of my precious time and attention. If you’ve got the itch to mess with them – go for it – but please also report it.
Here’s a fun response from Amity of Raq-On that she generously let me share with you!