Saturday 28 March 2015

Another Scam to Avoid...

You may remember that I posted an article a while ago about a site claiming to allow downloads of a pirate copy of List of the Dead, before I had even finished writing it.

Thanks to Google Alerts, which I use to notify me automatically when people write about the Armada Wars universe, I have now identified another scam. This one is similar but much more sophisticated.

Google Alerts found what it thought was a genuine link (now removed), to a site called When you click the link, it takes you through a series of redirects (one page forwarding you to another page on a different server) until you land on what appears to be a discussion forum. In this case, the topic under discussion was Steal from the Devil, and the thread starter said they were looking to download it cheaply.

That was my first clue, since it's only $2.99 (£2) on Kindle anyway.

The thread continued with various short, random posts about how good the book is (or not), with one person "recommending" that the best place to get it is a pay-for-content site called Book Library.

For some reason I accidentally closed the tab and had to click the link that Google sent me again. You know what happened? It took me to a thread on a different "forum". With a different name, page style, thread title, and users. But the same basic discussion with another random assortment of praise/criticism and one poster recommending Book Library.

Closed tab, tried again. Same thing! A third "discussion" on a third "forum".

Again. Again. Again.

This time I followed the link to Book Library, and what do you know? It takes you to a pirate download site, which requires registration. Oh right yeah... I'll give you trustworthy guys my personal details and I'm sure I'll get the download I wanted instead of a horrific computer virus that holds my files to ransom. Winner!

Way back in my web design days this kind of scam was used to get disproportionately high results from search engines. These so-called discussion forums are being dynamically generated to generate traffic for the pirate site.

The pretend forums are using a contrived template discussion and populating it with books which people might want to get hold of (in this case Steal from the Devil). The positive comments are there to pamper your ego and validate your choice of book. The negative or neutral comment is there to create the illusion of a balanced reality. The original post is written in a way that means you can easily sympathise and cast yourself in the role of someone who wants to pay, but pay less. The reference to Book Library is there in the vain hope that you'll be duped into thinking you're being sent to a legitimate eBook lending site.

But it's all bollocks. It's just to get you downloading whatever the hell they're pushing because for them traffic means revenue.

Again, my advice is to avoid these scams like the plague. Obviously there is a financial incentive for me to say that, but I have to stress that the Armada Wars eBooks are currently an Amazon exclusive. That is the only place where you are guaranteed to get the book you wanted, and not malware.

Please do not fall for that scam! Be alert, be safe.

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