Last Friday I went to Five Below to do some Christmas shopping and as I drove by Target and TJ Maxx, I heard a familiar sound. A violin instrumental version of the song "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. I looked for the source and sure enough, I saw a familiar sight.

This same time last year, I encountered the exact same scenario except instead of being outside of TJ Maxx, it was in the parking lot of the Wesleyan Park Plaza Kroger. I sat in my car waiting and watching to see if he was legit or not.

NBC2 News Youtube
NBC2 News Youtube

Violin Scammers in Kentucky and Indiana Parking Lots

A man with a small speaker attached to an electric violin stood with a sign asking for money to help with rent and food. I watched as someone tossed money in his violin case and the man took a second to nod and thank her. This took his attention and bow away from the instrument, however, it somehow kept playing.

WBKR-FM logo
Get our free mobile app

Probably because the man was not actually playing the violin, he was just pretending to. To a person quickly coming into and out of stores, it would be easy to see him and think he was an accomplished musician. Sometimes, they can really be animated and tricky with how they "play" the violin. If you watch long enough though, you will see that their movements don't line up with what they are playing.

A friend of mine told me that she saw a girl playing who took a second to scratch her nose in the middle of a note which totally gave her away. I had another friend who gave a girl some money, and when she reached to get it, the violin music kept playing even though she was not.

NBC2 News Youtube
NBC2 News Youtube

Unfortunately, I can assure you, this is a total scam. In fact, it's happening all over the country. While searching to find out what the deal was with these "performers," I came across countless youtube videos of folks exposing these individuals. Now, I am not here to assume what kind of background they have or whether they are in desperate need of financial help, but it kinda grinds my gears that they are pulling one over on people.

 Don't Be Fooled by Fake Violin Players

If shoppers want to give money to someone essentially playing a song from Spotify in the parking lot for them, by all means, go for it. However, I hate to see people who may think they are tipping a musician for their hard-earned skill set get bamboozled. It's also disrespectful to the musicians they are stealing from and passing their talented performances off as their own. People work for decades to master their musical craft, and here these people are just hopping out and pretending.

The violinist in this Florida news report shares some signs for people to know whether a person is actually playing their instrument or not.

How to Tell if Someone is Really Playing the Violin

1. The music will NOT be perfect. Especially in hot or cold weather. There will be wrong notes and mistakes.

2. They are holding the strings of the bow. Like the woman in the video above.

3. Their fingers are too far down on the "neck" of the violin. Or moving out of sync with the music.

4. The bowing movements are either too fast or too slow for the music coming over the speaker.

5. They stop to scratch their nose and the music keeps going.

OK, so that last one is pretty obvious, but you never know! Hopefully, these tips help you from being fooled the next time you encounter a "busker" in the wild. Have you ever seen one out and about? Did you know immediately they were fake, or did it take a minute to realize what they were up to?



Who Had the Best 10 Year Run in Rock History?: Roundtable

More From WBKR-FM