Tutoring Scam

I recently posted an ad offering tutoring on a certain, well-known classifieds website. I received a response (below)

from bally lilian
to MarsIAm
date Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 6:30 AM
subject Math Tutor (West Village)
hey, I want to know if the lesson is available.

Against my better judgment, I replied.

I am available. What type of tutoring are you interested in?

Her reply about two hours later.

This is Lilian Bally.I am from London,my son will be coming for an holiday in the U.S,and i want him to be busy throughout..Therefore, i just want to know maybe he can always come to you and teach him great things on every afternoon. If this is possible,i will want you to get back to me with the cost of your teaching for the MONTH …He will be coming to your housefor 1 hour each afternoon, I have someone that will always drive him down to your house.. His name is Dan,he is 14 years old. I will want you to calculate 1 hour per day for Monday,wesnday,Friday for the whole 1 MONTH,and get back to me so that we can arrange on payment.Kindly get back to me with……1.YOUR CHARGE FOR AN HOUR….2.TOTAL CHARGES FOR 1 MONTH THAT HEWILL BE TAUGHT 3 TIMES PER WEEK..3.FULL NAME AND ADDRESS WITH ZIP CODE….4.YOUR PHONE NUMBER…don’t hesitate to e-mail with your total charges.Thanks and waiting to read from you. here is my mobile number +44 703 181 2292

Full address with zip code? I send a vague response.

Hi Lilian,
Thanks for the quick reply.
Wednesdays are not a good day for me, unless you are willing to meet later in the evening. Fridays I can meet after 2, but not every single week.
I charge $##/hour. $##*3/week*4/month = $##
I do not tutor at my house, as I have a roommate who is very busy. I tutor at the Starbucks at [location].
Thank you,

Here’s where it gets good. Lilian’s reply 5 hours later:

Thank you for the email.He will come soon that is why I’m making all arrangement.My Son`s is very Brilliant in Education,I just want you to help me tutor them…I want him busy when he comes to the USA.I’m glad the way you have kept me posted on the (tutoring) and more so you have accepted the offer and It is okay by me,I have make contacts with my son concerning thearrangement of the tutoring which he told me is ok by him and I want you to know that I am going to pay for 3 hours a week for a month which should be $## like you said.Also I want you to know that my client who is in US will be sending you my salary payment which I want you to know that the rest of the money will be used to get all there needs…and very close to your location and any other arrangement for the lesson,as soon as you get the check cash and deduct the cost of tutoring of the lesson and $50 for your running around.You would send the remain balance to my Son Nanny . pls kindly get back to me with your full details so that the payment can be issue to you soonHope to read from you soon

I really had to think about what was the best way to respond. This is what I came up with.

Thank you so much for the offer. Before we can proceed, however, I have a few requests.

I have a strong preference for my payment: I would like the check to be in the form of a giant novelty check, such as the ones Publisher’s Clearing House or the lottery gives out.

Please scan and attach your most recent monthly statement from your bank, ensuring that the name of the bank and the full account number are visible. We must establish that you have sufficient funds to pay me should we have any problems with the check.

I ask that all new tutees provide three references, at least one of which should be professional. Additionally, I will need 2 copies of a head shot of yourself, as well as a full body shot (nudity preferred).

For both religious and health reasons, I will require that at all times there is a screen between myself and your son to protect my modesty. A suitable screen should be at least 6 feet or two meters tall, by at least 3 feet or one meter wide. It will be helpful if there is a slot of some kind such that we can pass learning materials back and forth.

Additionally, I will require that you send me record signed by your son’s physician that he is up to date on all of his vaccines (polio, rabies) as well as a toxicity screen and white blood cell count. I hope it would be possible for me to request that your son dresses himself in natural fabrics and does not apply any deodorant, hair products, or body scents. My psychic has given me strict instruction that I cannot compromise my immunity during this month.

You will need to apply for a New York City permit to receive instructional services in a commercial/residential zone. These forms are easily available on the New York City Mayoral Office website, and only take about 20-30 minutes to complete (not including the essay portion, of course). Due to zoning regulations, it may be necessary to pay for a license as well, which usually range between $300 and $2000. I am afraid we cannot proceed unless we agree to abide by the necessary laws.

It is imperative that these steps are completed before we can enter phase three of our tutoring contract. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

I, too, hope to read from you.

Take that, Lilian Bally.

*Thanks to The Good Reverend for reminding me of the necessary components of tutoring.



  1. Mike Smith

    What kind of scam is this? I actually just received this email as well and I responded to the questions like a moron. Is there anything I should be worried about?

  2. Mars

    Hi Mike,

    Admittedly, they are trying to scam you, but they don’t speak English that well and they aren’t very smart.

    Basically, as you can see they will write you a check, and they will ask you to write a check for the difference. Obviously their check will bounce, and presumably if yours doesn’t they have succeeded in stealing from you.

    Just don’t write them a check. You are welcome to do what I did, and that is to tell them to SHOVE IT.

  3. bob

    Thanks for posting this. This same person contacted me and after googling her e-mail address I found your post! Was so glad I saw this before replying!!!

  4. Cheryl Lee

    I have received almost the exact same emails. At first I felt it was legitimate, but many red flags came up. What kind of a person would want a total stranger picking up his so called son at an airport? What kind of total stranger would you send a $2000 check to? This guy is a creep and needs to be stopped!

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