1. A person e-mails the store asking if they can place a large order. Sometimes it's multiple copies of the same book; other times it's just a long list of high-priced books. It's nearly always textbooks. They ask that the order be shipped to an address that is usually on the other side of the country. The name of the caller does not match the name of the recipient.
2. Bookseller asks for payment. (Suspicious, the bookseller has not actually ordered the books yet.)
3. Person calls the store to give credit card information, usually over some sort of VOIP service. Phone call is very static-y, with frequent gaps and delays. Person on phone usually has a strong accent.
4. Card is declined. Person says they'll call back with another number.
5. Several hours or possibly a day later, person calls back with a different credit card number. This, too, is declined.
6. Bookseller gives up and when the person calls for a third time, tells him that the books are now out of stock.
Here's what I don't understand: what is the point of this? At first I thought the goal was to use a stolen credit card to get free books, but why someone would want such obscure textbooks I can't imagine unless the goal is to resell them.
Then I thought perhaps the recipient is another random address, since the names don't match - but again, what would be the point? The person with the card doesn't get the books or the cash in that scenario.
It's something I plan to ask other booksellers about when I go to Winter Institute in a few weeks.