TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After a video went viral showing a man pretending to play the violin at the Broadway Market Center and asking money for it, KETK investigated and found out there is more than just one person scamming people across the state.
What some people are calling talented musicians is just a ring of scam artists, traveling across the state, playing their instrument to already orchestrated music.
“I didn’t want my home to be taken advantage of,” said Jewel Kirkendoll, a talented violinist in Tyler.
These performers are setting up in parking lots and pretending to play music as customers walk by and drop music in their cases.
“People who aren’t familiar with music they hear it and say oh my gosh, it’s beautiful,” said Kirkendoll, “In reality, the track he was playing was doing all the work, he wasn’t even playing.”
Kirkendoll confronted a violinist located in the Broadway Market Center and asked to turn off the music then perform with her.
“I got my violin out and I asked him if I could play with him, and he was like yeah sure,” said Kirkendoll, “He didn’t play, so I said is it because you don’t really know how to play, and he was like yeah, I’m so sorry.”
She then posted the video to Facebook which went viral.
‘”I just don’t like other people that lie, it hurts me, I just want to protect my community, I love this place, I’ve lived here my entire life and I just don’t want those people taken advantage of,” said Kirkendoll.
Spotted months apart, he wasn’t the only one seen in the Ross Parking Lot. A different person was seen bearing the sign, ‘Need to help my mom with rent’ and pretending to play a musical instrument.
The city says anytime someone is asking for money on private property it is up to the property owner on whether to have them removed or not.
“If the business wants them warned off the property, they can be entered into criminal trespass files,” said Andy Erbaugh, Tyler Police.
“People don’t think that stealing from artists is without consequence. They think it’s a victimless crime, they really do,” said Kirkendoll.
People like Jewel devote time, heart, and money into playing the violin and hope there will be justice for those being deceitful in the community.
“If you do it enough, you’re gonna get caught by somebody, whether that be the law or an angry citizen, whoever, you can’t get away with it,” she said.
One of these ‘parking lot players’ gave a response, admitting to doing wrong and saying he won’t be back to Tyler to perform the act.
“I am sorry if I did offend you or any other musicians out there. I have no right to impersonate talented people. I am an immigrant and it’s hard to find jobs that don’t require work permits. Please understand that it’s the only way for me right now. Violinists are amazing and they sound heavenly. It’s the fastest way to make small cash. I will make sure not to come to your town or ever do this as soon as I get my work permit,” he said.