Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is This a Scam?

When I published my first book this Spring, I never expected this. Take a look at the email below and tell me if you think it's real:

"I just finished reading Two Scoops of Grace. Thanks so much helping me grow in my faith. Yes, I grew in my faith but I also laugh constantly.
I am the facilitator of a small (9) senior citizen Bible Study. The women are "mature" not only in their ages but also in their faith. I would love for us to enjoy Two Scoops of Grace as a group but I am facing a problem. 1) We are all on limited incomes (social security), and often find our money is gone before the end of the month. Please forgive me for being rude but since it is impossible on our incomes I am hoping that you could donate 11 copies.

I ask that you consider our request and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to call me at ***-***-****. I also ask that you include us in your prayers and I thank you in advance for your continued prayers."

At first I was touched and wanted to pack up 11 Two Scoops of Grace--which I'd purchased from my publisher (I don't get free copies)
--and ship them off to this needy lady and her class of senior citizens. Then I wondered about the legitimacy of the lady's story, so I emailed my publisher and asked his advice. He sent me an identical email another of his authors had recently received from the same lady!


My agent verified that the person listed did live at the address she put in the email. She also tried to call her, and got an answer machine. She thought that perhaps the lady was a real person who was just needy. But I thought it unlikely that:

A. Every member of her study was on Social Security, and not one could afford to buy a $15 book;
B. The church they attend does not supply Bible study materials for the classes, and
C. She would have need of so many books at the same time from two different authors.

So... I'm asking you what you think? And what would you do if you received an email like this?


  1. Very interesting. I'm glad you checked with your publisher. My mother is on social security and she can afford a $!5 book. I would write her and let her know you would have to pay for them and you are sorry that you can't buy them for them.

  2. So many want free copies because they think we're rich and that the books cost us nothing. Wrong! Right, Janette? I have been asked to send books for gift basket raffles for a cancer patient, door prizes at a women's retreat, a home for unwed moms in New Mexico, my donation to a Pregnancy care center, and people who ask for a free book because they have a need and no money. Each time I pray and ask God what to do. In most cases I send the book. I keep a stash of slighly damaged books for this purpose.

    Caution: I think Diana said some ask for free books and then sell them on-line. That was a wake-up call to me.

    In your case, I'd send one book and suggest they share it.

    May whoever reads our books be blessed whether it's a scam or not! Hugs, friend.

  3. I think it is a scam and the books would probably be sold on E-Bay or some other way. Terri's suggestion of writing her and letting her know you can't buy them for the group is good and Elaine's suggestion of sending one book for the group to share is good also.

    Right or wrong, I get rather suspicious when people come looking for hand-outs.

    I hope many people read your book, but I hope they get them the right way.


  4. Sadly we have to be cautious and wise in this world. You are a steward of the words that God has gifted you with, as well as the gift in print. If you checked it out and are skeptical then heed the Holy Spirit and reply briefly but firmly.

  5. Hi, Jeanette.
    I often get requests for free copies, and I rarely honor them. It's difficult to ferret out the scams. It's sad that we have to be so cautious, but sending out copies that we've had to pay for can get expensive. I've donated some of my books to libraries and local churches, but when I get an email request, I often respond gently that I have only a few samples and I'm not able to provide free copies.

  6. Thanks for all your comments, friends. I decided not to respond to this request, which I beleive is a scam. It's too bad people resort to this kind of thing. I have given books away as the Holy Spirit leads me, but not in response to this kind of over the top plea.

  7. The request sounded good to me, but I'm so glad you checked it out. Now it looks very bad. I would probably not send the books and then feel guilty. It's great that you were able to track down the culprit.

  8. I'm glad you checked with you agent. It sounds like a scam to me, especially when your agent had heard of another author receiving the same 'pitch.'

  9. Hmm, I might be a little suspicious too. As much as I'd like to help someone, I am often skeptical when I see things like this. Good thing you checked with your agent. Good thing, too, that you have the Holy Spirit to help you discern these things.


Oh, it's YOU! I'm so happy to see you here today, and look forward to reading your comments.