The top 5 scams massage therapists need to watch out for

Faceless unknown unrecognizable anonymous man with digital tablet computer browsing internet.

Have you ever received an email or a phone call that didn't sit right? There was something strange in the way the person asked you a question or the offer on the table just seemed too good to be true? 

Sadly massage therapists seem to be the target of some common scams. Below we will outline 5 different scams we have come across in our research so you can spot the scammer and protect your massage therapy business! 


1. Rotten refund 


Perhaps the most common scam seen in recent years is an email or chain of messages that at first seem like a fantastic opportunity! Someone is getting in touch to arrange a series of massages for a group but they live out of town or out of the country and need to pay by credit card or cheque. The con is they will overpay and ask you to take a cut for passing the cash on to a driver. Afterwards, the payment will bounce for being fraudulent leaving you seriously out of pocket and possibly caught up in a money laundering case. 


Facebook post from Annette Rainbow about scam involving over payment


It is worth noting some of these can be genuine opportunities and clients can be unaware of how best to book a series of treatments in one go. However, there are a number of giveaways to tell who is bogus and who might just be a bit clueless! 



Facebook post from Katrina Corral about arranging massages for large groups



Anyone who is not willing to speak on the telephone is a big giveaway, after all.... 



Facebook post from Diana Pacifico Morro about speaking on the telephone for a large payment



It is worth keeping in mind that these scam artists will stoop extremely low in order to win your trust. 



Message from scam using cancer treatment to win trust

Message from scam artist using cancer treatment to win trust



Explain to the client that given the unusual circumstances you will need to ensure a few things are in place to secure the booking. Ask to speak on the phone, or better still Skype or another video call service. State it is always nice to be able to introduce yourself face to face as to not scare off any legitimate clients! Ask to take credit card details upfront in accordance with your cancellation policy but state that payment is preferred in cash on the day. Any mention of paying a driver or overpayment, back away and report it to the police. A group of construction workers is a common scam so be extra vigilant if this crops up.


2. Caught out by a complaint 


Jennifer received this slightly suspect looking email... 



False complaint scam email sent to Jennifer Coyle



Luckily Jennifer contacting the BBB direct who were able to confirm it was a scam. 


Facebook post from Jennifer Coyle about a false complaint scam


Whilst emails like this can appear to be official on first glance always do your due diligence before clicking any links or sending away any personal information.


3. False advertising 


In recent years this next scam has claimed lots of victims but there has been some good news too! 


Facebook post from Victoria Borrill about being scammed out of £2000 for false advertising spots



Reiki master Mark explains how it works in this short video. 





Massage therapists have also been targeted with offers of connecting therapists to different communities including police and other emergency services, LGBTQ and the NHS. 


 Facebook post from Sue Jaycock about false advertising scam



Unfortunately, this is a scam, taking money for advertising that never materialises. One scam artist was successfully sent to jail but there will be copycat cases out there! 



Facebook post from Leanne Richardson about another false advertising scam


4. Social media services 


We all know finding the time and energy to market your massage therapy services on social media can be difficult. So it is easy to see why this would make massage therapists an easy target for a scheme based on offering marketing services for your website. These offers can also present themselves as something entirely different to begin with. 


Tamika received this message online. 


Message sent to Tamika Barnes on Facebook about marketing services online posing as a client referral



At first, this could seem similar to the examples above, however when Tamika took the call things took a different turn. 



Facebook post from Tamika Barnes about a scam where someone is offering their marketing services to gain access to website


It speaks volumes about a person if they present an opportunity to you as one thing and quickly change tactic once they have you on the phone. This is a massive red flag and whilst, in this case, it is fairly easy to spot the scam it raises an interesting point about allowing people access to your website and social media accounts. 

However tempting an offer might be, never give access to your website or social media accounts without ideally meeting in person, checking their credentials and making sure their business is legitimate. You could end up with your website being hacked, your reputation damaged and some serious costs both financially and in terms of time when you have to recuperate your online presence, 


5. Dodgy directories


Many massage therapists reported receiving messages offering to include their massage therapy business in a directory, bringing them lots of new customers and starting off with a free trial. Sounds good right? But there's a catch ..... 



Facebook post from Richard Watson about directory messages which charge to reply



The scam is you are being charged extortionate amounts to reply! 

Other directories will start off with a free trial, then introduce a charge promising more leads are on their way. With no guarantees and a likely scam, invest your time and money into more productive marketing strategies. 


A final note - not all scammers are strangers! 


Sometimes scams can come from unlikely scenarios.... 


Facebook post from Erin Finn McDermott about attending an event in exchange for a booking


Networking with other professionals can be useful however there are time wasters in all walks of life! Whilst it is healthy not to give into cynicism, a little caution can protect you from those who would take advantage of your time, expertise or resources. If an opportunity like this presents itself go for it BUT don't be afraid to call someone out! Mention your busy schedule and ask for the booking upfront. If they keep avoiding making an appointment, get in touch to say you are looking forward to their event and that you need to get them booked in. If they still won't book, don't burn bridges but get in touch to say something has come up and you will no longer be able to attend. This way you avoid creating bad blood and you don't waste your time.  


Some massage therapists can beat themselves up about the time they spent on these scam emails and it is easy to feel annoyed and drained by these experiences. But these things do happen to us all! Learn from every experience and try not to give in to the negative energy! 


Facebook post from Ashley Bowman about receiving her first scam email as a massage therapist


Have you encountered any of these scams in your career as a massage therapist? Are there any scams you have experienced that aren't on our list? Please help us to support our fellow therapists by sharing your experiences on our Facebook thread!


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