Good morning and welcome to the first Monday Blogs post of 2018. Today, we’re talking about book scammers. These are individuals who promise to purchase a large number of your print books, to help set up a library system in a third world country and end up not closing the deal unless you cooperate with their “system.”
One of the first things all authors need to remember is that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. This is the situation I faced during early December. I received a private message on my Facebook fan page. An individual with limited skills with English claimed he wanted to purchase 2,000 “pieces” of my books. I’m sure you can see my reaction. I read that message a dozen times without thinking about responding. Each time I finished reading the short message, my heart beat a little faster but my sensible head kept saying don’t commit to anything, don’t believe this is true.
My next step was to respond to the individual. Part of me strongly believed this was a scam but another part kept thinking it’s just a scam. So, since the person contacting me indicated they wanted to purchase my print books, I referred him to our CFO, who handles that, and immediately let my publisher what was going on. I even indicated that I wasn’t a hundred percent certain this wasn’t one of those annoying scams but was mentioning it because it could be true. Of course, she was like me—cautiously optimistic.
Over the next week, my publisher and the CFO went back and forth with not just the person who contacted me but also another person. In the end, ten days after this started, we were told that because we weren’t cooperating with their method of payment (partial on one credit card an individual in Alabama was going to “pick up”) and the rest of the payment for the books on another credit card that had yet to be acquired and would be shipping the books directly to them rather than having their trucker come to our address to pick them up, they withdrew the offer. I then received another PM from the originator of the scam saying that because my publisher didn’t cooperate with their method of purchasing books for the new libraries in Nigeria, they couldn’t purchase them. By this point, the initial promise of 2,000 pieces had been reduced to five of each of my print books.
A very small part of me was disappointed this didn’t go through. The rest of me was relieved that I had correctly thought immediately this was in all probability a scam. I was very bothered by the fact that these individuals refused to pay a legitimate PayPal invoice and instead were demanding that we take payment on two different credit cards that had to be acquired by two different people in another state, or that they needed print on demand books ready for delivery a day after making the order. All of these red flags were warning signs of a scam right from the beginning. Their insistence of having a physical address to pick up the books screamed trouble. Needing to pay with two different credit cards that it seemed didn’t belong to the people using them was another red flag.
So, while I didn’t get a really big sale right before the holidays, I also feel I dodged a very tough bullet. Indie authors need to be aware of this scam. We work hard for every sale. In my case, with 37 books in print, that would have been a very nice royalty payment, but every communication both I and my publisher had with these men indicated it was a criminal act, and one where we would have come out in a very bad place.
This is definitely a situation of author beware. And another beware situation is that Santiago M. Love (more than likely a fake name) closed his Facebook profile within minutes of me reading his final message to me. This individual and his associates are probably operating under other names, making this same offer to other indie authors.
Don’t fall for something that looks too good to be true. Make sure the people are legitimate. Do your research on libraries being opened in a third world country that has never had them. I did, but after the whole thing fell apart. The country in question has had libraries since 1963. A one second Google search would have given me that information at the start of this fiasco.
About the K.C. Sprayberry
Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story.
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