Hucksters are calling bookstores, pretending to be authors, and then hitting them up for money, reports the LA Times. For example, someone might impersonate an author that will be reading at the store in a few days, asking for cash to get his car out of the impound lot. Big-hearted bookstore employees have fallen for the scams a few times, but no more: "They draw you in, and later you just feel so foolish."

A similar trap almost caught Diesel's Evans, who was holding an annual summit of cookbook authors at his store in Oakland's Rockridge neighborhood. A few hours before the event, someone who said he was Eric Gower, author of "The Breakaway Cook," called.
"If it was Eric Gower," said Evans, "it was a highly altered Eric Gower. He was calling to say, 'I can't be there; my car was stolen. I left my keys in my car with my computer, and when I came back from getting something to open it with, there was nothing but broken glass. And the computer had all the pictures I have of my mother."

...the caller was inconsolable: "Then he very quickly changed gears to, 'So I need you to send $150 by Western Union, and I can give you all of the information.' He sounded freaked out, maybe he's high strung — you know how chefs can be."

There are a bunch of these hoaxes occuring, often including the "pictures of my mother" line. WTF? Is someone out there teaching a class?

Hoaxes Hit Bookstores[LA Times]