Inside a multimillion dollar fake Kindle book scam #1yrago

Posted on Saturday, October 7th, 2017 at 20:16


Vancouver-based engineer-turned-“entrepreneur” Valeriy Shershnyov published thousands of titles in the Kindle store, “books” of typo-riddled nonsense that he upranked with a system of bots that gamed Amazon’s fraud-detection systems, allowing him to sell more than $3M worth of garbage to unsuspecting Amazon customers.

Shershnyov failed to put a password on the online database where he tracked performance of his books and bots. The database was discovered by MacKeeper Security Research Center, and analyzed by investigative journalist Zack Whittaker, who has laid the scam bare, with facts, figures and methodologies.

Shershnyov paid people a few dollars to write his books through services like Fiverr, then, after they were listed on Amazon, he briefly freeflagged them, allowing his bots to mass-download them, shooting them to the top of the Amazon charts (his bots anonymized themselves using Tor, so Amazon couldn’t see that all the downloads were coming from the same place). He spread out his books among multiple publisher accounts, which meant that when Amazon shut down one of the accounts, the rest could continue to pay out for him.

None of the books were hugely successful – at most they made a few hundred dollars – but Shershnyov injected thousands of books into the Kindle store, and the profits mounted.

This is why Indie authors struggle to get visibility on Amazon these days. Following cases like this they changed the rules and systems to try and stop this from happening. But those changes also mean authors require more verified reviews to be promoted (although verified reviews are also easily gamed by unscrupulous writers).

This is why Indie writers that write content you enjoy need you to review and share what you have read. I know it’s not always easy to do straight away, but if you can, you can fight scammers like this from stealing sales and page reads from good writers.

Be an Indie hero and share your indie reads, movies, music, art. Tell people what you like, and it will help writers find readers and vice versa.

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