Police and other law enforcement officials across the country have warned members of the public about the serious issue of people pretending to play violins to solicit donations. The trend has been spotted in several states across the country, and authorities are urging members of the public not to fall for the scam.
— Montgomery County Department of Police (@mcpnews) December 3, 2021
News Channel 3 in Michigan was the latest to catch scammers in action. A concerned viewer contacted the station, based in Portage, about a man appearing to play the violin outside a Target store with a sign that read “DAD WITH 3 KIDS PLEASE HELP FOR FOOD AND RENT.” When reporters from the channel approached him, he claimed not to speak English despite the fact that his sign was in English. When pulled on this, the man packed up his violin and left the area. Prior to his departure, he put his violin down to speak to the reporter, and violin music continued to flow from his speaker.
This isn’t an isolated incident. The supervisor of Springfield Township in Michigan took to Facebook earlier in the week to warn against a similar scam happening in the area. This is a nationwide problem and we’re addressing it at our Davisburg Kroger,” said Springfield Township Supervisor Laura Moreau in her post. “These are not your neighbors in need (we’ve seen license plates from Texas, Virginia, and Illinois) and they aren’t real musicians (the violin music is recorded). Please call Sheriff’s dispatch if you see this scam and do not reward them with a donation!”
It goes further than that. Several other police departments across the country have issued similar advisories, including police in Florida. “Recently, myself along with members of the Community Policing Unit have encountered individuals attempting this scam at many local shopping centers,” advised Cpl. James Gatti with the Pinellas Park Police Department in a November Facebook post. “Please be smart and safe with your hard-earned money.” Then came the warning from Maryland police, which said: “WARNING: This is a nationwide issue, please be aware of scam violin players in Rockville and other location’s shopping centers,” the Montgomery County Department of Police (MCDP) said in a December tweet. “They are soliciting money through cash AND electronic methods.” Who knew?
I guess we all need to be vigilant! You probably never even thought that a violin-playing scam was a thing, but now that you know about it, I bet you’ll be paying more attention the next time you’re out and about. Don’t give these fakers your money! Or, you know, you still can. At least they’re putting on a show!