Wednesday 14 May 2014

Beware Pirate Scam Sites

As part of my marketing strategy, I have a couple of saved web searches which let me see quickly what is being said about Armada Wars and Steal from the Devil. Something I have noticed becoming increasingly more prevalent in the search results is a particular type of pirate site offering a "PDF copy" of SFTD.

After I found the first one, I filed a DMCA notice. But before that notice could even be processed, the site had been taken down by the host company for breaching their terms (i.e. for being pirates).

By modifying my saved search slightly, I found a good half a dozen more similar sites. One thing has become clear as I examined them: these sites are not simply pirate sites; they are scams.

The scam goes like this:

  • The scam site "scrapes" stores like Amazon for trending and popular digital items;
  • A product page is made for each interesting item. This often includes bogus information such as a "stock" number which changes at random every time the page is loaded (how exactly would one keep a stock of eBooks anyway?)
  • Clicking on the link to "Download the PDF Now!" opens a new window which requires the "shopper" (read: cheap, gullible future con victim) to complete an "offer" first;
  • Assuming the "offer" points to a genuine site, and not a nest of malware, the scam site owner profits from farming out a paid task;
  • The "shopper" gets either nothing, a PDF full of junk, or a download that turns their computer into a zombie or holds the personal drive to ransom.
I can understand why people wouldn't want to invest $4.49 (£2.99) in an untested author. But there are other ways to get Steal from the Devil for less, and even for free. I'd much rather people put it on their Kindle wishlist and wait until it's on offer, than pull the double-whammy of circumventing my rights as the author and putting their own computer at risk. It's just the better option all around!

In short, I would rather take a hit to my own royalties than see the scummy, thieving, pretend pirate sites cream a neat referral profit by exploiting readers.

Seriously. Wishlist. Discounts and giveaways are announced on Twitter and/or Facebook, so just give me and Armada Wars a follow/like.

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