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Spam emails: What to look out for

What are spam emails?

Spam emails, also known as junk mail or phishing emails, are sent by unknown third parties. They tend to be unexpected emails that you have not requested.

They can be difficult to spot as the sender mimics an organisation that you are already in regular contact with, such as your bank or building society, work associates or groups that you are affiliated with. Emails are being sent to members from senders purporting to be looking for a music teacher to provide music lessons to their son or daughter.

If in doubt

If you are in any doubt about the authenticity of an email that you receive from our Music Directory, please contact us for clarification by telephoning 020 7221 3499, or emailing us at [email protected].

Always be wary of any email that asks you to pay money or requests your personal information, such as your name, password, telephone number, home address or bank account details.

How to spot a spam email

On first glance the spam email may look like the emails you normally receive through the Music Directory or to your normal enquiries email address. However, on closer inspection, there are things you can look out for:

  • the email address is slightly different to the address used by your affiliated organisation or it is from an unusual email domain
  • there are normally errors within the email, such as spelling or grammatical errors
  • the email requests you to do something and this ‘task’ is often a request for money at the outset, or eventually becomes a request for money
  • the email requests your personal information, for example, your
    name (or account user name), password, home address, bank account details or telephone number

Social media

Sometimes, scammers will make an approach via social media. Often these messages will have the identifiable features listed above. Examples we've seen on social media include a musical commission for a child's birthday and a request for lessons on a temporary basis, similar to the example given below.

If you are unsure, you might wish to reach out to colleagues or trusted groups such as the ISM's Facebook group, to see if others have been sent a similar message.


The below examples are emails received by members who have a profile on our Music Directory. The wording of these emails differed slightly but the ‘scam’ of requesting teaching was the same: the scammer says they are emailing from abroad and that their child is travelling to the UK to stay with someone, while they receive lessons; the scammer says they will pay for the cost of the lessons and the cost of another expense (normally travel or accommodation costs); the scammer requests the music teacher to refund the surplus funds to the person the child is staying with.

Initial email:

Are you available to tutor my lovely daughter? kindly get back to me with the details requested so that we can proceed from there as soon as possible . I've arranged with a caregiver in UK that my child is coming to stay with him for her period of tutoring.I want you to get back to me with following details:

1) your present residence address and telphone.

2) total cost of tutoring for 2 months (1 hour per day and 2 days /week)

3) your years of teaching experience.

looking forward to a favorable reply from you you soonest.

Regards to you

God Bless

Follow up email:

“It is my pleasure to have my daughter under your tutelage, i want you to know that i am doing all i could to make sure that my daughter see the best of you when she arrives for the lessons. So she will be coming for the lesson starting from 10 May,If you are not comfortable with this starting date you can let me know so that we can fix other date convenient for you for the lesson. I want to alert you on the delivery of the cheque to your address in U.K any moment from now, as i was told that the cheque will sent out to your address as i said to you that my attorney will sent out the payment before travel out for her vacation,Although the cheque is more than your total teaching cost, i am very sorry for the inconvenience.
My attorney included my daughter’s traveling expenses to your UK on the cheque to avoid delay in traveling plans and other preparation for the lesson. According to my attorney, it will only take your bank 24 hours to clear the cheque for you since it within U.K cheque. Once you have cash the cheque at your bank, you are going to deduct your total cost for lesson, please, you will assist me to send the balance to the Caregiver who will be taking care of my daughter during her stay in U.K for the lesson. The remaining money will be send to my Caregiver, will be for her feeding, travel expenses to U.K and other commissions. Hope i can trust you with the balance? I would have love to pay the caretaker myself but he is out of the U.K and he will not be coming until it's a day before my daughter arrive to U.K and as you can see my attorney will leave U.K any moment from now for vacation.I will be more than grateful if you can render this assistance and I won't mind paying you extra £50 as compensation for your efforts.I will want you to keep me posted as soon as the cheque arrives so that we can proceed on the next step.

Thanks for your consideration!”

If this email conversation was continued then the potential next steps anticipated by the scammer is that a cheque is sent to you. The source of the cheque often appears legitimate. You cash the cheque and pay the difference between the amount for lessons and the remaining amount on the cheque to the scammer. Though the email suggests that the cheque will clear in one day, once you pay the remaining money the cheque will be rejected by the bank and you will lose the money you paid.

These types of emails are a common scam found on the internet and you should be vigilant of any emails that you receive which look suspicious or request your personal information or money.

What the ISM will do

We are working to ensure our Music Directory is as secure as possible. However, because spam emails are hard to stop, as it is difficult to trace the source of the email, it is important that you also remain vigilant.

Where to report spam emails

Spam emails can be reported to us (or the organisation that the email is purported to be from) so we can look into the matter further.

They should also be reported to the police.

Where to go for more information

Reputable national sources to obtain more information about spam emails are:

UK Government

Action Fraud (UK Police)
Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)