Police Urge Nationwide Caution if You See Violinists in a Parking Lot
There's a nationwide scam that has been occurring in parking lots of shopping centers, and police agencies want you to be aware of it.
Let's say you are making a run to Walmart or Target, and upon pulling in you see someone in the parking lot playing the violin. You walk closer to the violinist and notice that they have a sound system attached, along with a sign asking for money for various reasons. At that point, you might be compelled to listen and even toss them some cash.
I can remember seeing a violinist like this a year or two ago at Target on Evansville's east side. The guy was really good. He was getting a lot of attention from people in the parking lot, and I am sure received some cash donations as well. As I was writing this, one of my co-workers, Leslie Morgan shared with me a similar experience she had not too long ago in Owensboro:
I saw a man and a woman playing the violin with an amp at the Kroger on Frederica St. in Owensboro. It was weird but sounded really good. If they hadn’t been across the parking lot, I probably would have given them some money. They sounded amazing.
Violinists like this might put out beautiful music and their sign/story might move you, there might be more than what meets the eye there.
Police Issue Warnings On Violinist Scammers
There are a lot of talented musicians who perform on the streets for tips. However, there are also some really good scam artists out there as well. There have been reports nationwide of violinists performing in parking lots of local big-box stores and supermarkets. These people are playing an electric violin over a PA system with signs asking for money for various reasons ranging from rental assistance to needing money to cover medical expenses. The thing is, they aren't actually playing the violin, the audio you are hearing is from a track that is being played through the PA system. On top of that, in the majority of these cases, the sign/story that these artists have is false too. It's all a sham to hustle you to give them money by using intimidation and distraction techniques.
Reports in many states including Texas, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and many cities in Florida. Perhaps the people that were spotted in Evansville, Indiana and Owensboro, Kentucky were both a part of this scam.
While it is not illegal for someone to pretend to play an instrument and ask for tips, it is illegal if the store that they are playing in front of asks them to leave and they don't. At the end of the day, this is all a hustle to get money. In any event, police urge people to think twice about who they donate to in situations like this.