There’s a little listserv on an arcane topic that I’ve been part of for at least fifteen years; the founder/leader died back in 2005, but it continues, and occasionally someone new shows up.
A Canadian chap had tossed out a story idea consistent with the group topic, and over the next couple of years turned out a pretty decent story, vaguely erotic but not enough to upset anyone’s applecart, and after he finished it, he vowed to make a book out of it. Which he did: he hired an editor to go through it — a wise choice, we all thought — then went the self-published route.
Response was good enough for him to start thinking in terms of “sequel,” and while I’d read the serialized version, I figured the least I could do is buy one in hardcopy. I contacted him offlist; he said he had a few copies on hand, and quoted a price. Fine, said I, what are my payment options? Apparently what gets to him fastest is MoneyGram, the successor to the old Travelers Express Company.
This next bit of history matters more than I thought it would:
In November 2012, MoneyGram International admitted to money laundering and wire fraud violations. MoneyGram services were used by unrelated parties involved in mass marketing and consumer phishing scams that defrauded thousands of victims in the United States. As a part of the settlement, MoneyGram created a $100 million victim compensation fund. MoneyGram also retained a corporate monitor who will report regularly to the United States Department of Justice for a five-year trial period. If MoneyGram fulfills its obligations under the settlement, prosecutors will seek dismissal of the charges of aiding and abetting wire fraud. MoneyGram also terminated any agents complicit in the 2009 scams and invested more than $84 million in improvements to the company’s consumer anti-fraud systems and consumer awareness education.
And apparently they’re taking no chances in 2014, because it took me half an hour on their Web site and another ten minutes talking to an actual rep for me to fail to persuade them to accept my payment to this Canadian guy, inasmuch as well, no, we’ve never actually met, and national borders are involved.
I said screw it, went to his publisher, and ordered a copy from them.