BC rock band targeted by ‘Birthday Song’ scam narrowly avoids losing $1,000
An online scam targeting a Fernie, BC rock band cost the musicians nearly $1,000, and now they’re warning others in hopes they can avoid a similar situation.
Adam Laurin, lead singer of Mount Rushka, said a woman named Sandra from Toronto contacted the band claiming her daughter Jasmine is a big fan and asked if she could pay her to write a song for her birthday.
“This mother, who seemed completely legitimate, had a profile with followers and photos of her family,” Laurin told CBC On the coast Innkeeper Belle Puri.
“As a new band we obviously want to dress to impress and we loved that they loved our music so we sat down and talked about it and said it shouldn’t be too difficult. Let’s do that for Jasmine.”
Laurin said Sandra sent information about her daughter – favorite TV shows, her cat’s name, her love of mermaids and more. The band wrote the song and recorded a video singing it.
“Everything seemed pretty normal,” Laurin said.
But then things took a strange turn.
CLOCK | Adam Laurin describes how the scam unfolded:
The band sent the song to Sandra, who originally agreed to pay them $300 for their work. She told them she was so impressed that she wanted to send $500.
Instead of sending an e-transfer, Sandra had her “secretary” send a photo of a check from a company — for $1,500.
Bassist Alanna Laurin, Adam Laurin’s wife, submitted the check using her bank’s online photo deposit facility but stayed in touch with Sandra, who claimed the secretary messed up the amount.
Meanwhile, Laurin searched for the deal whose details were on the check and learned it probably didn’t exist.
“The address didn’t match, and red flags everywhere, and it looks pretty photoshopped.”
The band contacted the bank to let them know. Sandra then asked her to send her back the “overpaid” $1,000. Luckily they didn’t.
Although the band didn’t lose any money, they put time and effort into writing and recording the song.
“Why would anyone go to the ends of the earth to have a band write, prepare and record a song for an imaginary person?” asked Laurin.
“It was also really heartbreaking for Alanna and I that someone would be out there doing that.”
He said they filed a report with the RCMP and began sharing their story in hopes others would not fall victim to a similar scam.
Tips to avoid scams
According to the BC RCMP’s website, anyone offering goods or services online is subject to a scam like Mount Rushka’s.
Typically, the scammer will say they made a mistake and ask for the funds to be returned to them.
In the worst case, the victim does not realize that the check is fake and transfers the “overpaid” amount.
Anyone posting an ad online is advised not to accept payment over the asking price.
Police say certified checks, travelers checks, gift checks and money orders can all be fraudulent. Canada Post Money Orders have security features, including beaver-shaped watermarks, and a $999.99 limit.
Fraudulent checks should be reported to the police, the RCMP says.