Sunday, 1 May 2016

Amazon scammers – can they be stopped?

I was shocked to read that Amazon scammers have come up with an ingenious way to steal money from the authors in the KOL programme.
I'm sure that most of you already know about this but I will attempt to give you a brief explanation of what they've been doing.
The success of this scam rests on the fact that Amazon don't actually know how many pages a reader reads in order to pay per page – all they know is where the reader stopped and they pay the author for those pages.
The scammers have been producing books with three thousand pages and only the first fifty or so are actually part of a book, the rest is gobbledygook. They then invite the reader to click to the back of the book in order to be in with a chance to win something fabulous. This then shows in the Amazon algorithm as the reader having read all three thousand pages. The only cost to the scammer will be for the covers and the payments to the people who do the clicking. They also have to set up a couple of Amazon accounts. They put up twenty-five different versions of the same bogus book – they make them free as soon as they are loaded which means they don't get the same scrutiny of a paid book.
The scammers pay people in less regulated countries to borrow twenty-five books a day and click  to the end of each. They keep these scam books live for four days and then remove them before the complaints reach Amazon, and then sit back and wait for the money to roll in.
According to reports they can make $60000 a month doing this . Although complaints have been made to Amazon they have been ignored until this began to impinge on the royalties of some big-names.
Someone suggested a relatively simple solution. This being that Amazon should limit each subscriber to the KOL system to 14 books a week, thus instantly removing  the scammers.
I hope that they set this in motion immediately. The fact that the money lost was money that should have gone to authors and not Amazon  is probably why they haven't bothered to step in up to this point. It would appear that some of the scammers have actually been earning author bonus payments – that is truly disgusting.
The previous system of paying a set amount for each borrow after 10% of the book had been read was changed because of a different scam, as well as the fact that authors complained it discriminated against those that wrote longer books. These scammers – probably the same ones who are doing the current one – published books only a dozen pages long and the front matter was more than 10% of the contents so they always got their payment.
I expect that when this new scam is stopped something else will replace it, but I can't believe it will be as costly to the authors of this particular one is.
I'm hoping that now big-name authors have become involved Amazon will move fast to close the loophole.
 Fenella J Miller


  1. Interesting post, Fenella,
    It's a real muddle! I've never been in favour of this complicated payment by Amazon for so many page read. It's hugely confusing for one thing. All I know is, that my eBook sales royaties have dropped considerably over the past year or so since it came in. I wish they'd go back to paying basic royaties on the individual book sales. The system of paying for pages read has confused me from the word go, and it's now not as easy to check individual book sales out, as it used to be. Maybe I'm a bit dense, and please tell me if I am, but if this scam is going on, then Amazon MUST do something to stop it being possible. after all they put the whole system in place in the first instance. I'm not happy bunny at all if Amazon is continuing to allow scammers to ride rough shod over us hard working authors, coining in on what we are missing out on Grrr.

  2. Jan, for me the simple pay per borrow worked best - I could see at a glance how many books were borrowed.They don't count sales towards the author bonus anymore either which is silly. Thanks for dropping in.