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Email scam plays on musicians' dreams


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A Calgary band that thought it had landed the gig of a lifetime is warning other musicians about an internet scam.

The Mocking Shadows, an R&B and ska jazz band that has played small venues around the world, received an email earlier this month offering them a slot at a festival in England in June.

The correspondence from Rev. Dr. Mike Gary of the Heritage Music Company invited the band to perform at the Heritage Music Awards and Festival, and offered to pay airfare and hotel for band members.

"We promote and give international exposure to musicians and entertainers all over the globe," the email said.

A subsequent contract offer of about $17,000 for a performance of half an hour raised warning bells, so the band's manager called the London venue listed on the paperwork.

"They looked at their schedule and they had no idea what I was talking about and said they couldn't help me out and that was the end of the conversation," manager Jon Pettigrew told CBC News on Tuesday.

When Pettigrew called the promoter, he was asked for more information: "He wanted my work address, along with my home address, my phone numbers and any relevant banking information."

That's when the band ended communication — which is what the RCMP says is the best thing to do.

"You should always be asking yourself whether or not this sounds too good to be true and in all scams, whether internet-based or otherwise, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said RCMP Sgt. Patrick Webb.

Webb said new scams appear all the time but the basic details remain the same: requests for personal information or money.

Other musicians scammed out of cash

The Mocking Shadows didn't lose any cash, but say other musicians approached by the same company have been swindled.

The contract sent to musicians includes a line that says a U.K. work permit will be "handled by artist," which has resulted in performers forking over hundreds of dollars to the promoter to cover that fee, said the band.

"They're targeting the wrong people here because musicians don't have that much money anyway," said Jory Kinjo, the lead singer of the Mocking Shadows. "They're playing on the hopes and dreams of people and they can really break the spirit of a band."

Other variations of the email include offers to perform in California and other venues in London, England, according to an online forum for musicians.

When CBC News tried to contact the Heritage Music Company on Tuesday, emails bounced back and the phone number listed did not appear to be working.


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