Edmonton

Edmonton musician warns fellow artists of Instagram scam

An Edmonton singer is warning fellow musicians to beware of another kind of artist on social media — the scam artist.

'They said they love my music and they wanted me to write a song for their son'

Lindsey Walker was contacted to write a birthday song for a little boy named Solomon. (Peter Evans/CBC)

An Edmonton singer is warning fellow musicians to beware of another kind of artist on social media — the scam artist.

Lindsey Walker was contacted by a stranger on Instagram on Dec. 28 and commissioned to write a song for $200.

"They said they love my music and they wanted me to write a song for their son for his third birthday that was coming up in a week's time," the folk and roots musician told CBC News.

"I was pretty excited about that. I thought it was like such a really beautiful idea. There were no red flags at first."

But Walker soon learned from friends that she was being scammed and that fellow Albertan musicians had already fallen for it.

The scam works like this: the con artist appears to send the money by e-transfer, but it's much more than the agreed upon amount.

The victim is then asked to send back the difference before they realize the original payment never went through, potentially putting them out thousands of dollars.

"I think it's really troubling that someone would want to take advantage of a group of people during a pandemic that are already just trying so hard to just get by financially," Walker said.

Police quite familiar with scam

Edmonton police said the type of fraud, known as an overpayment scam, isn't new to them.

"The EPS advises all sellers or service providers to be wary of any buyer that sends a transfer, money order or cheque for more than the cost of an item they are selling or a service they are providing," police spokesperson Carolin Maran said in an email.

"If they do believe the transaction is legitimate and the overpayment was made in error, always check with financial institutions to make sure the payment has cleared before sending back any funds," she said.

"Also, if the buyer asks for return payment by cash, cheque, money order or commercial wire service transfer, caution is advised. All of these payment methods are harder for law enforcement to detect."

This week, Walker messaged the fraudster to have some fun of her own. She said the song was ready and suggested they meet at the bank so she could be paid.  

"I can't wait for you to listen to it!" she wrote. "A lot of my friends really love the song too and think this could be the breakthrough song I've been needing to turn my life around."

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