While we’d all like to think we’re immune to online scams, sometimes our excitement about a large book order can cloud our common sense.
Last week, an author sent me an email asking if I could provide him with a quote to ship a few hundred copies of his book overseas. He said he’d received an email from a potential buyer. I immediately knew it was a scam because he had almost no information about the alleged “buyer.” He wasn’t too happy when I asked him a few questions about the email, and then revealed he’d almost been scammed.
A few days later, I got a similar email. I’ve received several emails like this one in the past and I always delete them.
Subject: Order to Australia
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 00:29:06 -0400
From: Joe Malley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am interested in purchasing some of your products, I will like to know if you can ship directly to Australia, I also want you to know my mode of payment for this order is via Credit Card.
Get back to me if you can ship to that destination and also if you accept the payment type I indicated. Kindly return this email with your Website.
I await your quick response.
92/674 Musgrave Road
Coopers Plains 4108
Tel :- +61 7 3276 1626
Fax:- 61 7 9253 6910
How can I tell this is a scam?
1. It came from a free email account. Any real company that plans to distribute our books would have a real email address, sent from their own company’s domain.
2. Praying I don’t offend anyone here but…all the Australians I’ve met speak and write excellent English. Obviously, English isn’t this guy’s native language. This tells me the email wasn’t really sent from Australia.
3. Again, his English is very poor…yet his name is Joe Malley?
4. He doesn’t name any of our “products.”
5. If he really looked at our website, he’d know that we do ship internationally and that we accept credit cards.
6. He asks me for my website. That means he’s never been to my website and he has no idea what I sell. So, why does he want to order something from me?
I googled one line from his email (“I am interested in purchasing some of your products, I will like to know if you can ship”) and found numerous posts from people who have received emails with the exact same wording. However, the sender often uses a different email address, different name, different address, phone, etc.
Basically, this is how the scam works:
The scammer convinces the victim to sell him a large quantity of a certain product. He offers to pre-pay for shipping, but he wants to use his own shipper. He then tells the victim to send him a money order for the difference in shipping. Of course, a few days/weeks after the products have shipped and the money order has been sent, the victim hears from their merchant account service that the credit card transaction was fraudulent. So, the author has been scammed out of cash, a large quantity of their books, and the very expensive foreign shipping charges associated with books they sent to Australia (or whatever country was involved).
You can Google this phrase to see how many others have been targeted by this type of scam:
“I am interested in purchasing some of your products, I will like to know if you can ship”
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing emag for writers that features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is one of the top-rated POD publishers in the industry.