[This is my weekly music column for Global News. -AC]
If there’s an angle, a loophole, a technicality, a con or fraud for any situation, someone will discover and exploit it. Whether it be the corner hustler with a shell game or a Madoff-strength Ponzi scheme, the rip-off is as old as humanity itself.
People have been trying to pull fast ones on the music industry from the moment someone used a printing press to illegally copy some sheet music. Today, the biggest music scams are happening online — and some of them aren’t as illegal as you might expect.
The iTunes credit card scam (2012)
They thought they had come up with the perfect crime. First, get some completely unknown (and complicit) artists to post songs on iTunes. Second, steal a bunch of credit card numbers and use them to set up phony iTunes accounts. Finally, use those iTunes accounts to buy crazy numbers of downloads from those unknown artists.
The result was a tsunami of royalties paid out by iTunes. When that worked, the same scam was perpetrated on Amazon.
By the time the plot was uncovered, this 11-member gang from Kent, Derby, and Birmingham, England, had netted over $1 million from iTunes and more than $1.5 million from Amazon