Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Autograph hound or hoax?

About a week ago, I got an email from 4 "fans" in Germany requesting signed pictures. I felt honored and flattered so of course I sent them some cards with my autograph! I figured it made sense: the letter sounded like it was written by teen girls who might have read my books plus most of the bios about me on the web and in my books mention that I was born in Germany. So I sent them out and returned the email promising an envelope would arrive in their mail and asking them to please let me know what they think when they get it.

So today, I got another email - this one from a guy named Piotr in Poland. He's 33 he says and has been a fan of mine for many years. Well, now, this time I sense a scam of some kind. First of all, a 33 year old Polish guy is NOT my target demo (not that men don't read my books but, um, no) and second of all, I noticed that of the day's hits on my website, someone from Poland checked me out -but not anything beyond my contact page (go, Homestead!).

I decided to do a little investigating...sure enough, this guy Piotr Haase has sent the EXACT SAME email to lots and lots of people. So...

...yes, the German fans did the same thing. [sigh] I contacted one of the blogs where the names and email were re-posted and asked the writer how she had verified the authenticity of the fans. They did write back with the correct info so she felt confident and sent them some pictures. I warned her that Piotr may be the next person to contact her - and he was!! Not long after I emailed her about this (her name is Cecilia Brainard, btw and this is her blog), she posted the SAME LETTER I had gotten and warned her about.

Now, what the heck...is there an autograph scam out there I don't know about? Is there something you can do with autographs of people who are not exactly household names? After all, if you follow the trail of these blogs the "fans" are posting on or to whom they are emailing their letters, you will discover the people they are asking are only semi-well-known (I'm speaking mostly for myself here), so what gives? What's the deal?

For your information, here are the letters I received. Fellow writers, have you gotten them? And if so, what did you do about it?

The German one--

Hello C.Leigh!We are great Fans in Germany of you and therefore we would be very happy,if you can send us 4 handwritten pictures of you.Many thanks in advance for your kindness.

Bye Bye

Anika,Denis,Bodo and Silke from Germany
Adress:Anika Eppert
Holmblick 36
D-18225 Kühlungsborn

The Polish one--
Hello C.Leigh Purtill!
My name is Piotr Haase. I am 33 years old. I live in a little village in Poland,
together with my wife Kate and two sons Albert and Adrian. We are happy and we lead quiet live. I have been your fan since many years.
I really admire you and I think you are very good in that what you do.
I was wandering if you could. Send me your autograph.
I would be grateful.
Thank you in advance.
Your sincelery
Piotr Haase

Okay -update - a third one just popped into my inbox:
Hallo C. Leigh Purtill
Ich bitte um zwei Autogramme.
Sage vielen Dank und wünsche Ihnen viel Erfolg.
Would you please send me two Autograph and Signature.
Thank you.
Monika Förster
Esmarchstr. 8
42283 Wuppertal

WHAT the frak????