Protect your massage therapy practice from both scams and the potential for viruses to enter your computers via scam emails.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is aware of the emails massage therapists are receiving from those who claim they got the person’s information from our website.
Some spammers collect some contact information from our website, but they often just use AMTA's name to imply legitimacy. We have heard from massage therapists who are not AMTA members and received the same e-mails.
The scam usually takes the form of a request to schedule several massages on an upcoming trip to the U.S. In a series of communications, the massage therapist indicates their fee, the scammer sends a check for much more than the fee and asks the massage therapist to return the overage. The checks massage therapists receive are fake, but may initially be accepted by their banks. Weeks later, the therapist is told by the bank that the check was fraudulent, and the massage therapist must cover the amount of the check with the bank and also loses the amount sent to the scammer.
Another version of this scam involves massage therapists who are contacted to provide massage therapy for a movie or TV project. It begins with a resume inquiry to be considered as a massage therapist for the crew of the show. The inquiry states that the massage therapist will be paid a high sum, often $1,500 per day, and that they will stay in an expensive hotel at no charge to them. A check is sent in advance, and the massage therapist is told to deposit it through an ATM and to use part of it to pay for something to be sent to the people who claim to be hiring them. The check is fake and the therapist loses both the amount for the purchase and any additional money they may have spent.
Related: Fraud Alert: Fake Checks Used for a Variety of Costly Scams | NBC News
These email scams are a major international problem that affect professionals in many fields. International, national and local law enforcement officials are seriously challenged in trying to stop these crimes. AMTA cannot control or police this type of activity, but is proactive in maintaining security measures on our website.
Bait and Switch Scam
This bait and switch scam is through a radio station that contacts massage therapists and offers them a 15-minute interview on a national streaming radio show. After completing the recording of the segment the “producers” say they had a very positive response from the interview and make a sales pitch to do more interviews if they pay $500 for each one. No evidence is provided that there is a big enough audience to justify the expense to attract new clients.
Scam Phone Calls
Scammers have added phone calls to their email tactics—don’t be fooled.
If someone calls you to book several appointments and pay upfront, you can be pretty sure it is a scam. Most likely any credit card they give is stolen, and they want your account number to continue their theft. It’s a good business practice to not accept this type of prepayment. If they mention paying a driver, you can be certain it is a scam.
Call local police if you receive these calls. However, the caller may not be in the U.S.
Guidance to Massage Therapists
When a massage therapist receives an e-mail from outside the country, from someone they do not know, who wants to arrange for several massages during a U.S. trip, it's probably a scam.
- The best defense is to delete the e-mail immediately, without responding.
- Scammers often embed viruses in the e-mails that will pull personal information from the computer of someone who opens the message. They also harvest email addresses to sell to other scammers.
- If the email uses AMTA’s name, it does not guarantee the e-mail is legitimate.
- Legitimate emails through AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist locator service indicate they have come directly through AMTA. This is the only way for someone to email a member through the locator service.
- Enable privacy settings on social media. Only connect with people you know and trust, and privatize your personal and contact information. Learn more about privacy controls and social media.
- If before seeing a client a massage therapist receives a check for more than the amount agreed upon, they should assume it's a fake check and never send money back to the person sending the check.
- Alert the FBI office immediately by filling out the form at IC3.gov. Report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at FTC.gov.