‘A scammer wrote to me, and this is my response’

piano scam
piano scam

Has a company treated you unfairly? Our Consumer Champion is available to help. For how to contact her click here.

I would like to give away my late husband's Yamaha baby grand piano to a passionate instrument lover.

He passed away three months ago and I will be moving to a house with much less space, so I can't keep it.

However, I don't think he would have been happy for me to sell it. I am hoping to give it away to someone who's a passionate instrument lover.

JL, via email 

Dear reader,

I said I was sorry to hear that your husband had died and asked for some more details about this piano, which I assumed you were keen to give away to a fellow Telegraph reader.

Your email struck me as unusual, but it's not the first time a reader has offered to give away a musical instrument to another via this column. The world is full of kind people, and readers of this column seem to be particularly generous.

Last year a kind woman offered a second-hand trumpet to a young girl whose mother was struggling on a single income and benefits, who had featured on this page. It was such a lovely gesture.

You explained this was a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano GC1, with dimensions 5.3 ft (161 cm) long by 4.9 ft (149 cm) wide.

It was about five months old and in pristine condition, you said. It was being stored in East London by a removals company, along with the other items which you'd cleared out of your marital home.

You explained to me that the moving company could deliver the piano anywhere, but the beneficiary would need to pay the moving costs.

When I emailed the removals company for a quote I was told the fee for delivery to another London address would be £431, payable either by bank transfer or cash on the day.

By now what had previously been a seed of a feeling had become an overwhelming sense that all was not as it seemed here.

You sent me pictures of the piano, which showed a Yamaha baby grand piano wrapped in plastic. Having researched the price, I'd expect you to be able to sell in “pristine” condition for something in the region of £15,000, a sum which struck me as huge to give away.

Widows downsizing from their marital homes are usually keen to hang on to every penny they can.

I Googled the removals company you said was storing the piano for you, ABC Piano and Moving, and found a legitimate-looking storage and shipping company website.

However when I entered the purported location of the facility I found it belonged to a different storage firm.

This struck me as odd, but it was my next discovery that crystallised my fears. Far from a grieving widow hoping to find a loving home for your dead husband's piano, you were in fact an evil scammer hoping to extort someone vulnerable and gullible out of their hard-earned cash.

This ABC Piano and Removals website, which was clearly created by you or your criminal colleagues, contained convincing photographs of “employees of the month” wearing company-branded gilets.

However, when I Google image-searched the photographs I found they had been stolen from a legitimate US-based removals firm with a similar sounding name.

I have contacted the real firm to let them know so they can take action to get this imitation website taken down. I am also liaising with the relevant authorities to get the website permanently removed from the internet.

Some people reading this may be wondering why I bothered to respond to your email at all, given that it whiffed of a scam from the outset.

So allow me to explain: The lengths you have gone to here to extort people whose only crime is to be too trusting makes me feel sick.

After you were stupid enough to write to a Consumer Champion like me with your nasty little ruse, the least I could do was to use my powers to attempt to block you, and educate my readers about the tricks scammers like you use to fool them.

Email fraudsters like you are costing victims millions of pounds every single day and contributing to Britain's worsening mental health crisis.

So if this article saves even one or two potential victims from being stung, it'll have been worth writing.