Friday, September 18, 2009

E-Mail Scams and Orders

As an internet bookseller, I receive book orders from a variety of sources. There are listing sites that aggregate large numbers of booksellers into a single database, plus I have a web site of my own -- Orielis' Books. Every so often I get orders directly over the phone or through snail mail.

Then there are the 'orders' that come to me directly via e-mail. These can be interesting .... they can also be potentially dangerous (if they're scams, then the goal is to separate me from my money).

I got an e-mail a few days ago from someone purporting to be from Seoul, South Korea. It was written in a typical fractured English of someone for whom English is a second language. It started this way:

Sales,
I am Dana, I am mailing in request to order some of your products for Supply to the Shipping Address Below :

Well, this is a red flag when the person writes a bookstore and doesn't mention books. So I ran a couple of Google searches. The company name implied by his e-mail address turned up nothing (another red flag), but the shipping address had two interesting hits. It turns out that an Australian publisher Allen & Unwin has a subagent located at that exact address! That sounded promising, right? They publish children's books, I sell used children's books.

Then I looked at the second Google hit for that address and all I could do was laugh. Have you ever heard of the Back Yard Chickens Forum? I sure hadn't, but apparently it is the in place for those folks who raise chickens in their back yard. At any rate, one of the posters there (Chicknwhisperer) had received the same e-mail, word for word identical with mine. Needless to say, that clinched it for being some sort of scam and I moved on. Unless, of course, this person was looking for a copy of Raising Chickens for Dummies .....

The jury is still out on the second e-mail I got this week. More later on that.

Bob

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