by Sue Basko, esq
Two recent major music scams are operating out of New York City. Both are aimed at the Black hip-hop or rap crowd and are being done by Black men. Both scams are taking place on the internet. The scammers are reaching out to people on social networking sites, such as Linked-in, Reverbnation and other sites.
Scam artists work by selling you a dream -- a dream of easy fame and fortune. Before you sign any contract or agree to any deal, or upload anything online or click any online agreement or terms or contract -- have it checked out by a lawyer.
People tell me they cannot afford a lawyer, and yet the same people are contemplating sending hundreds or thousands of dollars to some scam on the internet. How does that happen? The scam artist is very skilled with flattery and also with making you believe you two are planning something wonderful and secret together. Talking to a lawyer, especially talking to me, might be a big downer because I am going to tell you the whole thing is a scam and there is no magic money out there just calling your name.
Scam #1 - "MUSIC MANAGEMENT scam " (I am purposely NOT naming the name of the man/ company running this scam. I want him to stay online until authorities stop him.) He says he is "Def Jam A&R," or other A&R, a music producer, a guy who can get you "signed" with a big record label contract. He uses typical drug dealer hip hop imagery, such as a photoshopped pic of him standing in a dark luxurious room. Under the chair is a box overflowing with money and two assault rifles. You are supposed to believe this is a legit businessman, and some people fall for this.
What Happens: He tells you you are wonderful and he wants to sign you to a management contract. He gets you to send him money, supposedly for services. He says he will write you a press release, but all his own online stuff is misspelled and with sloppy sentence structure. He says he'll make you a website, get you photos, and find you a record deal within 6 months. He says you can pay extra money to have your video on his website.
What to Do: Don't Send him money. Don't sign any contract. If you already did, talk to a lawyer, report it, or just move on and get wiser.
Scam #2 - "TOUR scam " - A guy reaches out to you and asks you to "audition" to be on a tour with some very famous music acts. Then they say you have to pay significant money to "lock in" your spot. The whole thing is fake and they are taking people for thousands of dollars. Word is that one of the men working the scam is a convicted rapist. So beware.
What to Do: Don't give them your money. Don't deal with them. Report it to police asap. If you feel more comfortable doing so, report it instead to IC3, the internet crime complaint center.
What the Two Scams Have in Common: Reaching out on the internet, using famous names to lure you, making you "audition" or send in music and links and say you are competing, possibly making you pay money each time you "move up" the audition ladder - meaning they take you for higher dollar amounts in increments. There may be "contracts," and they are terribly written and contain no actual names or contact info of the scammers.
How to Avoid All This: Never sign a contract or get into a deal without consulting first with a lawyer. If you think you can't afford a lawyer, how is it you can afford to send money to a scam artist?