TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A few years ago a video of Tyler went viral showing a man pretending to play the violin and asking for money for it. Since KETK’s investigation of this issue a few years ago, this fraud has become a growing problem nationwide and professional musicians are not very happy with it.
Douglas Hansen has been a violinist for over 15 years and you may have noticed him playing his violin in front of Tyler’s La-Z-Boy.
âIt’s a painful subject for a lot of us because I’m here in 100 or 40 degree weather, playing the violin to help make ends meet,â Hansen said.
He shares that it’s disappointing to see people enjoying art for financial gain over the holiday season.
âIt really doesn’t irritate me at all. These guys don’t play music. They have an electric violin connected to a mic amp and they move their fingers, but if you actually watch them, none of their movements match their music, âHansen said.
The Tyler Police Department says they are aware of the fraud activity that occurred over the past year. These performers were set up in parking lots outside stores like Ross and Best Buy, pretending to gamble as customers walked by, putting money in their suitcases.
So far, there have been no reports of such activity this holiday season, but police are warning East Texans to be careful giving people money.
âJust be aware that if you see someone soliciting on the roadway, they can only do it with a permit if they decide to do so. We need to know that mainly because it’s dangerous for that person. We don’t. don’t want someone hurt while they’re on the road, but it’s against the law to do that, âsaid Andy Erbaugh, chief information officer with the Tyler Police Department.
The city says that whenever someone asks for money on private property, it is up to the owner to withdraw it or not.
âIf you have someone in a parking lot approaching customers you can let management know and if they say they allowed them to be there the police can’t do anything about it. If they don’t want them there, then we can go out and have them warn them about the property, âErbaugh said.
Musicians like Hansen have devoted their time, money and passion to playing the violin, hoping the warnings will do justice to those who claim to play.
If you see suspicious activity like this happening in our community, you can call the Tyler Police Department’s non-urgent number at 903-531-1000.