U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested a 22-year-old from Italy who allegedly made $80,000 over the last year playing violin in shopping center parking lots. The man said he was doing it to support his children. The problem is, he doesn’t have children and was pretending to play the violin while a recording played through a speaker.
According to ICE, Giovanni Radu was in the United States under a nonimmigrant status and violated the terms of his admission.
“This individual flouted the limits of his immigration status, and our officers have done an outstanding job of imposing the consequences of his choices,” ERO Miami Field Operations Director Garrett Ripa said in a statement. “The U.S. will not be a haven for those who take advantage of the immigration system.”
According to law enforcement, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office confronted Radu after they received complaints that he was aggressively panhandling. He had a sign that said his hungry children needed food. Radu was arrested in a T.J. Maxx parking lot and now faces a long list of charges including organized scheme to defraud, failure to register as a charitable organization and battery on a law enforcement officer.
This isn’t an isolated incident. Police have warned about these types of scams happening around the country. Sometimes people pretend to play and say they need to support their children. In other cases, they have their children play as they supervise.
There are many videos on social media of people confronting the artists. They will ask them to unplug the violin from the speaker and play acoustically. Others will call the parents out for teaching their children to make money in that manner.
Some people who play violin have posted videos of the fakers, pointing out how their fingers don’t match the sound, or how they’re moving the bow incorrectly.
It’s not necessarily illegal to fake playing violin and ask for money. But in the case of Radu, it is illegal to accept charitable donations for children he doesn’t have.