I have a rather expensive lens posted on the "I Want To Sell" forum. In response to my posting I was contacted via PM by an individual who is requesting that I provide him the serial number of the lens. No offer, no declaration of interest, nothing else, just a request for the serial number. According to the Nikonians directory, this individual has zero posting history.
I don't intend to reply to this request because it doesn't pass the smell test with me. Why on earth would someone want to know the serial number of my lens? Perhaps trying to establish if it's a US version? Maybe it's a method of his to search for his stolen lens? Or is it some sort of...what? I'm truly at a loss here. Any ideas? Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
I'd reply and ask why. Eliminating the possibility of the lens being gray market is one possibility, but why not mention that? I can't imagine searching for a stolen lens online by asking every private seller to provide a serial number.
For older lenses where there are several different versions, I will cross reference serial numbers to http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html just to double check things before purchasing. But I wouldn't ask that for a current model AF-S lens (I assume this is in reference to the 24-70 f/2.8).
And if you determine he's legit, I would still only give the first few digits of the serial number, omitting the last 3. that should give him enough information to determine what he's looking for (US or not, year produced, etc.). If he buys it, he'll get the lens and all the digits. I see no valid reason to provide a full serial number to someone asking out of the blue. Smells like a scam to me.
There is a web site that logs Nikon lens serial numbers and makes an attempt at calculating from this how many have been made. (I don't think it is reliable but interesting nonetheless). I think this is it:
Perhaps this potential buyer is trying to asses whether the lens is from a particular batch, thinking this will provide info on the quality of the lens (early manufacturing, recent manufacturing, place of manufacture, etc.). Just a guess.
Even if his intentions in this instance are not diabolical, I think the conclusion of your smell test is appropriate. What kind of a buyer will he be if he is not communicative even about this?
On another note - some unsolicited advice. For an expensive item like this, when using PayPal you should ship it with signature confirmation in order to get PayPal's seller protection, for whatever that's worth.