The Belly Dance Lesson Scam: How To Spot It & Not Get Taken

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.

scam 5

scam 3

 

 

 

 

 

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.

scam 2

 

 

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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.

  • The best tactic is not to reply. You can report it to the Federal Trade Commission here.  If the person sent it from a gmail account, you can report it here. Report scam emails from Yahoo addresses here. This violated the Terms of Use for both email services. 
  • 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!

scam 6

Be on the lookout for these. Tell a friend, share this post and help protect our community from scam artists and financial predators.

Mahin (119 Posts)

Professional instructor and performer of Middle Eastern belly dance, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and author or the “Daily Bellydance Quickies”. Belly Dance Artrepreneur, Workshop instructor, performer, event producer, and bellydance writer.

  1. Kat Lebo
    April 28, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I usually respond that they are very late in getting to me about this offer. They should have been sending the bridesmaids to my classes regularly for at least 6 months to a year prior to the wedding. I then advise them to start sending the prospective dancers to my classes immediately (and I give them the start date of my next beginner level session) and if they will send me the names and addresses, I will contact the bridesmaids personally and offer them each a discount on the classes.

    Funny how I never hear back from anyone…

    Reply
  2. Martisa
    April 29, 2017 at 5:33 am

    I tend to agree with ignoring the scam and even blocking the email. My experience has told me that if I engage someone who is sending a scam email on any topic, that person is just going to continue. If they get upset, they may even web scrape or type false blogs about a person, just to damage their online reputation. We don’t know the mental state of every scammer. There is little legal recourse. So I would tend to just not respond, or use the settings to block the scammer’s email. If they get no response, they are likely to move on to the next person. As a senior citizen, I have been the recipient of a variety of scammers, and ignoring them seems to work best and if they still won’t go away, blocking or reporting them is effective.

    Reply
  3. Carol Tandava
    May 4, 2017 at 10:15 am

    From what I understand, whatever credit card number they give is stolen, so ScamWarners suggests getting that information from them and then sending it to the authorities or to the ScamWarners’ admin, along with emails from the scammers. That will flag the number and put it out of commission for good.

    http://www.scamwarners.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=23020

    Reply
  4. Melanie
    May 7, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    The e-mail:

    Good Morning, This is James, I will like to know if you do Dancing training and do you accept credit card, I would have call you but I am hearing impaired, How much is three days a week, for one month. Mon,Wed,Fri by 10am for 10 people and I just had an ear surgery and I have been advised to stay off the phone till I’m fully recovered.

    Best Regards.

    The answer:

    No credit card. Cash only. Kruggerands preferred but will accept American dollars in small denominations, unmarked bills. Charges for ten people for a one hour lesson is $300 per psychiatric hour per person. Students are expected to provide the teacher with venue, masseuse, skin specialist, and a case of diet Dr. Pepper per each session. 10:00 a.m. is not acceptable. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are not acceptable. Availability limited to the day after the Houston Astros win the Superbowl against the Utah Jazz. Sorry about your ear. Try sticking something in it.

    Best regards.

    Reply

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