Is This Amazing Boise Violinist Actually Part of an Elaborate Scam Ring?
We first told you about this scam in September 2021. It's recently resurfaced in the Treasure Valley.
According to multiple comments on social media, this scam has appeared near Best Buy in Boise and Hobby Lobby in Nampa over the past few weeks. Before you fall for it, here's what you need to know. The original article from September is below:
We're not the nosy neighbors that spend hours pouring through every post on Nextdoor, but ever since we had a wallet stolen out of our vehicle, we've tried to stay a little more in touch with the goings-on in our neighborhood.
Said wallet incident is exactly why we joined the "Southeast Boise Living" group on Facebook. While the primary motivation was to see if any other parking lots in the neighborhood were hit by vandals the same evening, it's been a great way to connect with our neighbors.
Less than an hour after grabbing groceries at the Albertsons on Parkcenter, someone posted in the group "Someone is playing music for money at the Albertsons on Parkcenter and it is AMAZING! ❤️" The someone was a man with an electric violin and some of our neighbors mentioned they'd seen him perform outside of the Albertsons and Fred Meyer stores on Federal Way recently. As someone who grew up playing cello in our school orchestra for eight years, I was bummed I missed a fellow string performer.
Many praised how talented he was and gave him kudos for putting forth an actual effort to make a few dollars as opposed to other panhandlers who set up in the same location. Some even tossed him some cash for his talents.
That's when TikTok user, @OfficialMinegar popped in with a message that our neighborhood was being scammed out of their money by someone who wasn't ACTUALLY playing the violin. He shared this video that seems to prove that the violinist's bow motions don't actually match the sounds coming from the portable speaker the violin is plugged into. (Although, he tries to cleverly hide that by turning as he's playing.)
That's when another neighbor piped in with their experience from his "performance" at Fred Meyer. This neighbor said he watched the violinist take his bow off the violin to use his bow arm to accept a cash donation. As he was doing that, the violin music continued to play.
From Texas to Florida, Washington State to Illinois, reports of similar parking lot performances have popped up all over the country. One actual violinist was so upset by the con that she inspired her local NBC affiliate to do an investigation into it.
So, is this "violinist in Southeast Boise" doing something illegal? Not necessarily. You may feel scammed out of your money if you were paying him for having an actual talent. But if you were paying him simply for entertainment? Eh, it's your money to spend however you'd like.
We're not sure what his sign said, because it was blurry in the TikTok video. We hope that if he was asking for money to help his family, there is a legitimate need.