Tutor Scam

Attention tutors! Please be aware of a scam that targets private tutors!

You may be contacted by a scammer who saw your announcement on this website, or on another website such as Craigslist. We have also begun seeing nannies, babysitters, and personal assistants targeted by a similar scam - see  About Check Overpayment Scams for more info.

Characteristics of Tutor Scams

  • You receive an email or text from someone who wants to hire you but can't meet with you in person. Usually they say they are travelling for business or they live overseas and their child is visiting the U.S. for a short time.
  • They usually have a very generic-sounding Anglo name, such as "Smith", but their email contains grammatical and punctuation errors that a native English speaker with the means to hire a tutor would not make.
  • They have a child, niece, or nephew who needs your services temporarily, such as a few weeks.  
  • They want to pay you in advance for the entire block of tutoring time.
  • There may be several rounds of email or texting between you and the scammer, and you may even speak with them on the phone.

How the Scam Works

  1. Once you and the scammer have agreed on your fee for the tutoring, the scammer will send you a cashiers check for substantially more than the agreed-upon fee.
  2. There will be a reason for the excess. Examples we've seen: The child to be tutored is visiting for a short time, and he says is including the child's expenses while in the US. Or the excess is for the child's travel expenses, or a nanny's wages, or someone in the US owes him money, or his company can't cut a check for a smaller amount.
  3. The scammer will tell you to deposit the cashier's check into your bank account, and once his check has cleared, he will "trust" you to send him (or someone else) the excess.
  4. Thinking you have the cash in your account now, you withdraw the excess from your account and send it to the scammer as instructed (or to some other third party he specified).
  5. In 2-3 weeks, the scammer's check will be found to be counterfeit, and your bank will deduct the amount of the scammer's check from your account. You will be liable for the entire amount.

This type of scam is called a Check Overpayment Scam. See About Check Overpayment Scams for details.

Example of a Tutor Scam Email

From: John Conroy johnconroy001 [at] gmail.com
Subject: Re: Math and Science tutoring from a Berkeley PhD (oakland lake merritt / grand)

Hi, Thanks for your reply regarding my inquiry.Am John Conroy from UK,my 15 year old Son (Mike) will be coming to U.S for his holiday,and he is interested in having Algebra Maths / English Composition lesson during the holiday.He is a middle school student,very brilliant , sharp and smart little boy.He will be meting you for 1 hour lesson per day(3 times per week) either at you house or any nearest library(Morning or Afternoon).I got a good and responsible nanny that will relocate to your area to take proper care of him and also to always drive him down to the location of the lesson.So please Kindly get back to me the following: 1.Your charges per hour. 2.Total charges for 1 month that he will be taught one hour per day in 3 times a week. Please i may not get back to you on time through mail,this is due to the nature of my job.So mobile contact will be preferable.Waiting to read or hear from you soon. Thanks. John. T:+44 702 405 4527