Booksellers are suckers

June 13, 2008

So I experienced my first bookstore scam this week, and after a little googling, I realized I am not alone.

The other day I got a frantic phone call from someone who claimed to be a local author I know and then basically tried to scam me out of $250. I’ll let you read the details of the scam here. Thankfully the scammer hung up on me when I started asking too many questions, but I will admit I was looking at the Western Union website and actually considering sending him the money. (bookseller=sucker)

So besides feeling strangely honored that someone would take the time to study my website (I can only imagine that’s how they found the information to do the scamming) and consider me scam-worthy material, it did leave me feeling a bit uneasy for the rest of the day.

In typical Christine fashion I had to get to the bottom of this story, so I spent an hour looking up phone numbers for Philadelphia impound lots (where Mr. Scammer said his car was being held) and then calling around trying to speak to someone who worked there. I really needed to know if it was true that this guy was not able to access all the cash he claimed he had in his car, and I was told that it was, in fact, impossible that he wouldn’t be allowed to get his belongings out of his car. Once I heard that, I emailed the author directly and told him I was dubious about the situation but still hoped he was OK. I was very surprised when the author emailed me back immediately and came into the store within the hour to assure me that it was not him, that he was in his house in Greenpoint and nowhere near a Philly impound lot. I think he was just as shook up as I was about the whole thing, if not more.

I just think it’s interesting that these scammers are specifically targeting booksellers, taking advantage of the personal relationships we form with authors and customers. It’s a good story no matter what, and now I can laugh about it. Especially since I didn’t lose $250.

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