Vigilance Required to Catch Fraudulent Orders

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Perpetrators of fraudulent order schemes are becoming increasingly sophisticated, as evidenced by the frequency and variety of scams reported by ABA member bookstores. Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule for identifying a fraudulent order, but booksellers are being urged to err on the side of caution.

Among the most easily identifiable scams are orders originating in Nigeria or another African nation for large numbers of medical books, textbooks, technical books, or bibles. A stolen credit card is usually offered as the means of payment.

However, a number of Web sites have recently reported receiving fraudulent orders for popular trade titles, sometimes with expedited shipping, and with domestic billing and shipping addresses. Director Len Vlahos sent the following warning to participating stores: "While international orders for large numbers of Bibles and medical texts still need to be avoided, you should also now widen your radar to include orders that may seem suspicious to you for other reasons.... If an unknown customer several states away is ordering multiple copies of one or more titles with expedited shipping, you should question it. Communicate with the customer, and communicate with the bank."

Vlahos encouraged booksellers to contact staff for a second opinion if they have doubts about a particular order, although he noted, cannot be a final authority on which orders are fraudulent and which are not.

In addition to Internet scams, ABA members have also reported receiving bogus orders coming in over teletype relay services designed to allow hearing-impaired people to communicate over the telephone.