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Scams, scams, and more scams

Dear MassageLady-- I'm a new massage therapist (well, relatively new, one year out), and I just got what looks like an amazing business opportunity. Is it too good to be true? I'm still

trying to work out the numbers with them. I got an email from an elderly hard-of-hearing woman who is going to be in and out of the hospital for an extended period of time, and will have her daughters and granddaughters staying with her to care for her as she recovers from multiple surgeries. She wants to buy them each a couple of massages per week for the duration of her recovery (6 weeks), and would like to pay upfront. At $100 for each 60-minute massage, and 6 people getting 2 massages per week, we're talking over $8,000. I'm over the moon! But here's the rub. She would like me to set up rides for them with Uber, and add that cost to the price I'd charge her (and I'd pay the Uber drivers). She is very hard of hearing, and so I can't just call her to talk. I've never done anything like this, but it could really bring in a lot of money which I could seriously use. What do you think? Am I being taken for a ride, or am I helping out a really kind old lady who wants to treat her girls well while she's in recovery? Sincerely, Could Really Use the Dough

Dear Dough; I am writing this from my lovely oceanfront villa in Arizona, which you are welcome to purchase at a substantially reduced rate. [I'm sorry, I had to]

This, you dear, naïve thing, is one of the very oldest of scams. There is no deaf old lady. There are no loving daughters. And there is--and I can not emphasize this enough--no money. Not for you, anyway. It works like this:

The "Deaf Client" scam (with many variations)

  • The "client" emails or texts you, often using lots of detail or odd wording

  • They say they need multiple appointments in a short period of time

  • They insist repeatedly on using a credit card (sometimes a cashier's check, which will later turn out to be forged)

  • They will not engage in person (on the phone, for instance), often claiming deafness

  • They want to pay up front for all services

  • Once you agree, they will say that they want you to accept the payment, PLUS some other amount, which will need to be given to someone else (transportation is most common)

  • Sometimes, they will simply overpay without warning, and claim it is a mistake, and ask you to send them the extra as a refund.

  • If the therapist actually refunds/pays the "extra", the clients will disappear, the email/text will bounce, and the therapist will find that the credit card was stolen (or the check was a forgery), and they are out the amount they "refunded"

How to avoid being scammed? It's pretty easy, and This Author has literally never had this one technique come back and bite her on her formidable (yet adorable) butt. Write this sentence, and send this link: (By the way, go ahead and click the link to see the article. It's pretty good) "Your request sounds a lot like this scam that is going around." That email sender will disappear faster than cans of White Claw at a sorority party that's been raided by the cops.

Why do massage therapists fall for such ridiculous scams? Because we're nice. You don't go into massage therapy as a career because you're a hard-hearted cynic, generally. You're kind and caring and you believe the best in people. And no, of course This Author does not want you "toughen up," but it is important to pair gentleness of spirit with wisdom and caution. Slip your rose-colored-glasses off sometimes; protecting yourself isn't a sign of hardness or cynicism. Our very first obligation as massage therapists is primum non nocere, or "do no harm." That includes to yourself. One of This Author's favorite sayings is an old Islamic proverb: "Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel."

Sincerely, The MassageLady

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