It seems the world of yoga is not immune to hoax emails, scams, or dodgy dealings. In December I received an email asking if I offered yoga lessons online, either through Skype or Google Hangouts. I don’t even know what the latter one is, and have not used Skype in that way. Something about the email sounded odd, and as it was coming up to Christmas and I was really busy, I replied quickly to say I’d think about it but they could look at subscribing to established online yoga videos as another option. I didn’t get a response and forgot all about it.
Then a yoga teacher I know forwarded me an email from someone looking for online yoga lessons. She wasn’t interested in it and wondered if I might be. The email was exactly the same wording as the one I’d received! Only the name and email address were different. ‘This is all very odd’ I thought. So I searched the Internet using keywords and phrases from the email, but it didn’t come up with anything. So then I asked in a closed yoga discussion forum and within hours loads of teachers said they too had received emails recently or a few months ago with exactly the same message. (The actual text of the email is below.)
I’m not 100% sure what type of scam this might be – one person suggested that they may record the yoga teacher delivering the 1-2-1 session and then use that to make money, passing it off as their own. Another suggested that the scam often involves a complicated banking process which essentialy robs the teacher of money and/or passes your bank account details on to others. Either way, it’s one to avoid.
Back in the earlier days of the Internet there seemed to be a lot of hoax virus emails that would do the rounds, with dire warnings about a particular file on your computer etc, some more believable than others. I learnt quickly that 99% of them were hoaxes, and would check them on sites about hoax (and real) viruses, and then reply to whichever friend had sent it on to explain that it was a hoax. Some of these sites still exist, and the scams and hoaxes have developed into other areas. So if you’re in doubt about a dodgy email or message you might want to check Hoax Slayer, or Sophos’ hoax directory, and in the UK report cyber scams to Action Fraud, and also learn more about dealing with spam and scam emails on the Get Safe Online website.
Here’s the ‘Yoga lessons online’ email message: