Brian Krebs brings our attention to what was most likely some type of money laundering scam being run in Amazon’s print-on-demand service:
Patrick Reames had no idea why Amazon.com sent him a 1099 form saying he’d made almost $24,000 selling books via Createspace, the company’s on-demand publishing arm. That is, until he searched the site for his name and discovered someone has been using it to peddle a $555 book that’s full of nothing but gibberish.
Reames is a credited author on Amazon by way of several commodity industry books, although none of them made anywhere near the amount Amazon is reporting to the Internal Revenue Service. Nor does he have a personal account with Createspace.
But that didn’t stop someone from publishing a “novel” under his name. That word is in quotations because the publication appears to be little more than computer-generated text, almost like the gibberish one might find in a spam email.
The impersonator priced the book at $555 and it was posted to multiple Amazon sites in different countries. The book — which as been removed from most Amazon country pages as of a few days ago — is titled “Lower Days Ahead,” and was published on Oct 7, 2017.
Reames said he suspects someone has been buying the book using stolen credit and/or debit cards, and pocketing the 60 percent that Amazon gives to authors. At $555 a pop, it would only take approximately 70 sales over three months to rack up the earnings that Amazon said he made.
That is a tidy little scam; if not for the fact that Amazon sent the 1099 to the wrong person, we would never have even heard about it.
And clearly Amazon had no idea it was going on.
Reames told Krebs on Security that after learning of the scam, he got curious enough to start looking for other examples. “I have reviewed numerous Createspace titles and its clear to me that there may be hundreds if not thousands of similar fraudulent books on their site,” Reames said. “These books contain no real content, only dozens of pages of gibberish or computer generated text.”
When I reported on a massive piracy scam going on in Createspace back in 2015, Amazon refused to say whether they were going to take any steps to prevent the scam from happening again.
In 2015 I found hundreds of titles which combined pirated content with sound-alike titles in a fraud intended to trick students into buying the wrong textbook.
It is now 2018, and Createspace is still rife with obviously scammy titles (and as we know from David Gaughran’s work, the Kindle Store is almost as bad).
And apparently the best Amazon can do is clean up the mess after someone else points it out.