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Author Topic: Suspicious contacts  (Read 1374 times)  

Online Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Suspicious contacts
« on: April 27, 2018, 09:18:50 AM »
I've just had this email message via my website 'contact'. There was a name and email address. Looks a bit suspicious that they don't even give the title of the book. I have not replied.

Message: Hello,

I am having issues checking out your site. I cannot find any information pertaining to your book.  I hope you can offer me some help. Sorry to bother you.


I also had this one via Goodreads.

I am interested in reviewing your latest book. Can you please send me a review copy to ............@gmail.com? I accept PDF, MOBI and EPUB. I don't have a Kindle Unlimited account. Thanks. name

The person has their profile set to private.

I have not replied to this either.

I was wondering if anyone else has suddenly been targeted  ::).

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Offline Victoria Wright

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2018, 09:33:31 AM »
I also had this one via Goodreads.

I am interested in reviewing your latest book. Can you please send me a review copy to ............@gmail.com? I accept PDF, MOBI and EPUB. I don't have a Kindle Unlimited account. Thanks. name

I got an identical message (100% word for word) on GR at the start of the month. Ignored the first one, and got a repeat about ten days later. Also ignored that, haven't heard anything since.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 09:36:17 AM by Victoria Wright »

Offline Victoria.T76

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2018, 11:08:27 AM »
I had the exact same message a week or so ago through my website contact form. I deleted it and did not respond.

Haven't had the goodreads one yet though.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2018, 11:09:43 AM »
I've just had this email message via my website 'contact'. There was a name and email address. Looks a bit suspicious that they don't even give the title of the book. I have not replied.

Message: Hello,

I am having issues checking out your site. I cannot find any information pertaining to your book.  I hope you can offer me some help. Sorry to bother you.

[Julie's Stock Reply to such things]
Thank you for your interest in our publications. If you are having problems accessing the site, make sure you have entered the address correctly. (insert link to page here). If you have a question about a specific title, please let us know.[reply]

Quote
I also had this one via Goodreads.

I am interested in reviewing your latest book. Can you please send me a review copy to ............@gmail.com? I accept PDF, MOBI and EPUB. I don't have a Kindle Unlimited account. Thanks. name

The person has their profile set to private.

I have not replied to this either.

I was wondering if anyone else has suddenly been targeted  ::).

[Julie's stock reply to such things]
Thank you for your interest in our titles. At this time, we limit review copies to recognized reviewers and book bloggers. If you would like to be added to our list of potential reviewers, please provide the following information:

Your name
email address
mailing address
phone number (if outside the U.S.)
Name of your blog or website where you post reviews
preferred formats
preferred genres

Please note that, due to the high volume of requests we receive for free books, we cannot offer review copies to everyone that asks.

If you have additional questions, please let us know.[reply]

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Online Ann in Arlington

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2018, 11:17:56 AM »
[Julie's Stock Reply to such things]
Thank you for your interest in our publications. If you are having problems accessing the site, make sure you have entered the address correctly. (insert link to page here). If you have a question about a specific title, please let us know.[reply]

[Julie's stock reply to such things]
Thank you for your interest in our titles. At this time, we limit review copies to recognized reviewers and book bloggers. If you would like to be added to our list of potential reviewers, please provide the following information:

Your name
email address
mailing address
phone number (if outside the U.S.)
Name of your blog or website where you post reviews
preferred formats
preferred genres

Please note that, due to the high volume of requests we receive for free books, we cannot offer review copies to everyone that asks.

If you have additional questions, please let us know.[reply]

Those are pleasant words that come out of your typing fingers. I sorta wonder what's going on in your head, though? :o ;D

(But maybe better not to share it here! ;) )

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Online Jan Hurst-Nicholson

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2018, 11:34:08 AM »
[Julie's Stock Reply to such things]
Thank you for your interest in our publications. If you are having problems accessing the site, make sure you have entered the address correctly. (insert link to page here). If you have a question about a specific title, please let us know.[reply]

[Julie's stock reply to such things]
Thank you for your interest in our titles. At this time, we limit review copies to recognized reviewers and book bloggers. If you would like to be added to our list of potential reviewers, please provide the following information:

Your name
email address
mailing address
phone number (if outside the U.S.)
Name of your blog or website where you post reviews
preferred formats
preferred genres

Please note that, due to the high volume of requests we receive for free books, we cannot offer review copies to everyone that asks.

If you have additional questions, please let us know.[reply]

Thanks. This is ok for people looking for freebies, but what I'm more worried about is replying if they are phishing for my email address. It might lead to all sorts of scams or even a virus  :o.

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Online MarkParragh

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2018, 12:18:46 PM »
Just got the same message myself through my web site's contact form.

On its face, it makes no sense. She (the name given on mine is female) is on my site. The "information pertaining to [my] book" is right in front of her.

I can't see what someone would accomplish by this except getting an email address associated with the owner of the web site. And it's clearly specific to authors. So is someone trying to make a list of authors' email addresses for marketing purposes? Seems a lot of trouble to go to for not much return.

Is it possible to use the email in some kind of attack on the site, to take control of it and lock the owner out, for example? I have no idea, but my plan is to ignore it...

EDIT: Interesting. Did a google search on the email address included in the message. The top two results were Facebook and LinkedIn profiles that matched the name given. They belong to a Portuguese woman who appears to now be working as an Event Manager at a venue in Macau of all places. She and her husband make a handsome couple, and they have an adorable looking baby, so there seems to be a real person at the other end of that email address. But I can't see anything that would suggest a reason why she would be sending the same message of unwarranted confusion to a whole bunch of indie authors.

Now I'm wondering if someone has managed to take control of her gmail account and is using it for some kind of skullduggery.  This is what happens when you write spy thrillers...
« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 12:39:23 PM by MarkParragh »

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2018, 12:26:07 PM »
Probably just spam. Not the tasty kind of Spam though.  :P I've been getting a lot of these strange offers lately, too. We have our information out there so yeah...I think they just target at random. Just say no, OP!

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Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2018, 12:26:41 PM »
Thanks. This is ok for people looking for freebies, but what I'm more worried about is replying if they are phishing for my email address. It might lead to all sorts of scams or even a virus  :o.

If you reply via the Goodreads website, it'll go through their messaging system and won't reveal your email.

As for the contact form message, do you use WordPress? In the Feedback section of your dashboard, you can see all messages and each sender's IP and email address. If it's a legitimate looking email, I wouldn't worry about phishing. (I've even had genuine messages from odd looking emails, so that's not necessarily a catch-all method.)

I'm no expert, either, but in order to be phished, I think you have to click a link within an email. I think you'd be okay to reply. Maybe someone else who knows better can weigh in?

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2018, 12:59:55 PM »
Those are pleasant words that come out of your typing fingers. I sorta wonder what's going on in your head, though? :o ;D

(But maybe better not to share it here! ;) )

People are always so surprised I can be pleasant lol

95% of those type of messages are in fact SPAM. The reason for my stock replies, however, is for the 5% that are actually real people. For example, I've had a website for over a decade and there have been occasions where it has gone down for various reasons without me immediately knowing it (nothing nefarious. Usually just the host company doing some sort of an update or a technical issue with some code). So I've gotten random weird messages that the site isn't available, and the site actually was not available! Or it was a dead link because I moved a page and didn't fix a link somewhere. I also get random requests for free books that aren't actually scammers, just people with low impulse control lol

So I have stock replies for an assortment of scenarios, which I use when those scenarios arise. If it is a scammer, they realize they aren't getting anything and go away. If it is a real person, then they don't think I ignored them and go away thinking negatively about the company.

I guess I just deal with enough people who are not internet savvy that I recognize that sometimes those spammy sounding messages are harmless.

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Offline Elizabeth Barone

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2018, 03:02:24 PM »
People are always so surprised I can be pleasant lol

95% of those type of messages are in fact SPAM. The reason for my stock replies, however, is for the 5% that are actually real people. For example, I've had a website for over a decade and there have been occasions where it has gone down for various reasons without me immediately knowing it (nothing nefarious. Usually just the host company doing some sort of an update or a technical issue with some code). So I've gotten random weird messages that the site isn't available, and the site actually was not available! Or it was a dead link because I moved a page and didn't fix a link somewhere. I also get random requests for free books that aren't actually scammers, just people with low impulse control lol

So I have stock replies for an assortment of scenarios, which I use when those scenarios arise. If it is a scammer, they realize they aren't getting anything and go away. If it is a real person, then they don't think I ignored them and go away thinking negatively about the company.

I guess I just deal with enough people who are not internet savvy that I recognize that sometimes those spammy sounding messages are harmless.

This is my thinking, too. Not only are there people who aren't technologically savvy, but there are also a lot of non native English speakers whose messages might sound oddly formal but are genuine readers. It never hurts to err on the side of caution, but I think it's also safe to assume those messages are harmless and send them a quick reply like the ones you shared.

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2018, 04:02:50 PM »
People are always so surprised I can be pleasant lol

95% of those type of messages are in fact SPAM. The reason for my stock replies, however, is for the 5% that are actually real people. For example, I've had a website for over a decade and there have been occasions where it has gone down for various reasons without me immediately knowing it (nothing nefarious. Usually just the host company doing some sort of an update or a technical issue with some code). So I've gotten random weird messages that the site isn't available, and the site actually was not available! Or it was a dead link because I moved a page and didn't fix a link somewhere. I also get random requests for free books that aren't actually scammers, just people with low impulse control lol

So I have stock replies for an assortment of scenarios, which I use when those scenarios arise. If it is a scammer, they realize they aren't getting anything and go away. If it is a real person, then they don't think I ignored them and go away thinking negatively about the company.

I guess I just deal with enough people who are not internet savvy that I recognize that sometimes those spammy sounding messages are harmless.

It never hurts to always be professional. Those are great responses, reasonable and to the point. Though, with all the Createspace accounts getting highjacked, I realized I had my email, though spelled out with (dot), on my submission pages for reviews and articles on my blogs. I have gone and fixed those to on-line question/request forms so my email doesn't show. Email addresses are becoming like SS#s. Whole accounts can be taken over with a password and email these days. Internet is being built on emails now. Cautious is always forearmed. ;-)

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2018, 05:01:24 AM »
My feeling is, it's never wrong to be suspicious. Do as Julie does, have nice rote responses, and deal with things in a way that doesn't upset people. Except spammers. Always upset spammers.

Hm. Writing Rule #3:  When in doubt, be like Julie.

Also, now I want Spam for breakfast.
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2018, 06:57:55 AM »
Hm. Writing Rule #3:  When in doubt, be like Julie.

Even my manager at work now says "Life is easier when I listen to Julie."  :P :o ;D

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Offline mike h

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2018, 09:36:44 AM »
I replied to both of the suspicious emails as if they were legit and gave them the link to my current Instafreebie giveaway. Saw no harm in helping them. If it is piracy stuff, any freebie is open to the same.

Offline Lisa5

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2018, 11:58:29 PM »
Just got the same message myself through my web site's contact form.

On its face, it makes no sense. She (the name given on mine is female) is on my site. The "information pertaining to [my] book" is right in front of her.

I can't see what someone would accomplish by this except getting an email address associated with the owner of the web site. And it's clearly specific to authors. So is someone trying to make a list of authors' email addresses for marketing purposes? Seems a lot of trouble to go to for not much return.

Is it possible to use the email in some kind of attack on the site, to take control of it and lock the owner out, for example? I have no idea, but my plan is to ignore it...

EDIT: Interesting. Did a google search on the email address included in the message. The top two results were Facebook and LinkedIn profiles that matched the name given. They belong to a Portuguese woman who appears to now be working as an Event Manager at a venue in Macau of all places. She and her husband make a handsome couple, and they have an adorable looking baby, so there seems to be a real person at the other end of that email address. But I can't see anything that would suggest a reason why she would be sending the same message of unwarranted confusion to a whole bunch of indie authors.

Now I'm wondering if someone has managed to take control of her gmail account and is using it for some kind of skullduggery.  This is what happens when you write spy thrillers...
A way to collect free recently published so potentially hot ebooks free to then give away for free on a pirate site where they make money from advertising on the site is my guess with that form letter.

It's possible to take over the site if you have a password that bots can guess using a "dictionary attack" so have a good password. And don't click on links from people you don't know because that's another way to get hacked.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2018, 12:02:50 AM by Lisa5 »

Offline Rod Little

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Re: Suspicious contacts
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2018, 04:04:48 AM »
I replied with my bank account number and passwords. Oops.... was that a mistake?

haha, kidding.

I think I would not send a free copy of your book (these can be linked to pirate sites), but no harm in replying with info and a link to Amazon or other retailer.  Just provide your website and retailers.

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