Yamaha Piano donation

If you get an unsolicited email that offers to give away something valuable for free and it’s not from someone you know, it’s probably too good to be true. This is very likely to be the case when someone says they are giving away a late family member’s grand piano–emails of that sort are a common scam. Some versions may even attach photos of the supposed piano, but they’re probably stock images or ripped off of somebody else’s listing. If you are told to reply from personal email or a different communication method, that is a red flag as well; scammers do this to move the conversation away from UVic email to avoid detection.

If you reply to indicate you’d like the piano, you’ll be told to contact and pay a “moving company” to ship the piano from out of town, but the moving company will turn out to be fake and you’ll never receive a piano after you’ve paid up. In general, it’s extremely risky to pay a random person or moving company for a piano (or other item of value) sight unseen; the item may not actually exist or not be what you were expecting.

Watch out for versions of the scam that impersonate real people at UVic. If the email was not sent from a UVic email address, or you’re instructed to contact an email address that is not from UVic, you can be certain the email is a scam. If in doubt, don’t reply to the email–to determine the email’s legitimacy, contact the person through another method that you know is safe (e.g.: using the contact information on their directory entry or by asking in person). Sometimes, one name will correspond to a real person at UVic but the other one will not, which is another sign of a scam.

A typical scam email offering a free piano

From: Paulina Hagerman <s*********8@gmail.com>
Subject: Yamaha baby grand 05/13/2024

Notice: This message was sent from outside the University of Victoria email system. Please be cautious with links and sensitive information.


I’m offering my late husband’s Yamaha Piano to any music enthusiast who may appreciate it. If you or someone you know might be interested in receiving this instrument for free, please feel free to reach out to me.

Warm regards,

A piano scam with photos attached, impersonating a real UVic employee but mentioning a person who doesn't actually work at UVic

From: [impersonated UVic employee] <[redacted]@gmail.com>
Subject: Yamaha Piano donation

Attachments: [Three thumbnail images showing a Yamaha baby grand piano from different angles]

Dear Student /Staff/Faculty,
One of our staff, Mr.Stephen Whitehead. is looking to give away his late dad’s piano to a loving new home. The Piano is a 2014 Yamaha Baby Grand size used but still new. Kindly write to him to indicate your interest on his private email( [redacted]@mail.com) to arrange an inspection and delivery with a moving company. Kindly write Mr. Stephen Whitehead via your private email for a swift response.

[impersonated UVic employee]
Assistant to the Dean