Author Topic: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?  (Read 9963 times)  

Offline bobfrost

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Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
« Reply #75 on: October 30, 2016, 11:23:40 pm »
The coordination involved here is stunning. More than a thousand KU accounts mass borrowing and presumably paging through these books?

Just on these 11 titles, that's 11,000 books borrowed and read through in a 48 hour period.

That's four books per minute for 48 hours straight.

I'm assuming this is an automated operation, but that's also incredible. How on earth did one person coordinate setting up a thousand KU accounts? How did they handle payment etc for a thousand accounts?

This isn't something that came out of nowhere. This must have been going on at a smaller scale for awhile for the person to build to this level.

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    Offline bobfrost

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #76 on: October 30, 2016, 11:25:38 pm »
    Sorry I just don't understand how these people are making money.
     I read the article on David Gaughrans site /KU Scammers Attack Amazons Free Ebook Charts but that's about the free chart. How are they making money on a book priced at $9.99

    The books are in kindle unlimited.

    They are borrowing each title a thousand times. Each book is 3000 kenpc of baloney. That's 15$ every borrow and full read.

    They are making $15,000 on each title in 24 hours. You are looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in just those 11 titles in the top 100.

    Somehow, this person has managed to create a thousand KU accounts and is actively coordinating them to mass read pages of their KU titles. The scale of this scam is staggering.

    They aren't buying the books at all.
    « Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 11:33:21 pm by bobfrost »

    Offline ......~......

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #77 on: October 30, 2016, 11:44:14 pm »
    I'm assuming this is an automated operation, but that's also incredible. How on earth did one person coordinate setting up a thousand KU accounts? How did they handle payment etc for a thousand accounts?

    I'm assuming they're getting the 30-day free trial?

    And they're probably using prepaid cards.

    Offline Gentleman Zombie

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #78 on: October 30, 2016, 11:50:12 pm »
    Remember that big Russian scammer caught a few months ago?  He and his buddies made over 3 million dollars! They created a database of over 83,899 fake Amazon accounts that he used to publish and borrow his own books. They got away with it for two years!

    AFAIK Amazon still doesn't verify email addresses and gives away 30-day free trial KU memberships like candy.  Again, with no real security checks or verification at all.

    So this scam literally costs nothing more than computer networking & programming expertise.  A first year computer sci student can pull it off from the comfort of her dorm room.
    « Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 11:56:45 pm by Gentleman Zombie »

    Offline Gator

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #79 on: October 31, 2016, 12:11:06 am »
    The coordination involved here is stunning. More than a thousand KU accounts mass borrowing and presumably paging through these books?

    Just on these 11 titles, that's 11,000 books borrowed and read through in a 48 hour period.

    That's four books per minute for 48 hours straight.

    I'm assuming this is an automated operation, but that's also incredible. How on earth did one person coordinate setting up a thousand KU accounts? How did they handle payment etc for a thousand accounts?

    This isn't something that came out of nowhere. This must have been going on at a smaller scale for awhile for the person to build to this level.

    It's actually 50 different titles we've seen the scammer use to pull off this scam just this weekend alone.  And since he's got 10 slots in the sales ranks of #67 to #77, that's about 1,200 to 1,300 BotMobile borrows so far.  I'll bet he has even more bots to borrow his books, though.

    10 titles * 1,300 borrowed books * $15 in page reads per book = $195,000

    (Plus whatever he made on the other 40 titles that were taken down earlier.)

    Even if he didn't use the free 30-day KU trial for each of those accounts, that would only cost him $12,987 in monthly KU fees.  Nice, tidy profit, eh?

    I *think* Amazon will put a stop to this, but perhaps that's wishful thinking.

    Offline SeanHinn

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #80 on: October 31, 2016, 12:21:06 am »
    Ridiculously short sighted scamming.

    They could have gotten away with it if they were real books, with real covers.  No one would have detected it.  Invest $10k in ghost writing and covers, and hell, if any of the books were even half decent, they could have even had staying power.

    I'm more tempted to believe that this is some kind of protest, or has some other nefarious purpose.  How could they be smart enough to build an operation like this, yet dumb enough to do it so poorly?

    Prediction:  The 'Zon uses this as an excuse to completely revamp the KU program, to our detriment.  Or perhaps it's even the 'Zon doing it, to mask the real issues with KU.  And yes, I have plenty more tinfoil, if anyone wants some.
    « Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 12:23:43 am by SeanHinn »

    Offline Gator

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #81 on: October 31, 2016, 12:37:10 am »
    How could they be smart enough to build an operation like this, yet dumb enough to do it so poorly?

    Unfortunately, it doesn't take a superior IQ to build it.  Just a little skill that most computer users don't have.  A college freshman computer science student could pull this off -- if he had questionable morals.

    Offline AsianInspiration

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #82 on: October 31, 2016, 12:48:15 am »
    Unfortunately, it doesn't take a superior IQ to build it.  Just a little skill that most computer users don't have.  A college freshman computer science student could pull this off -- if he had questionable morals.

    Common sense doesn't require IQ either.

    But what you said is totally not true. As someone who have taken more than a year's worth of computer science in University, I can tell you that I have no idea how to do something like this. Or, well, I can guess/understand how it works, but the actual process of doing something like this requires A LOT of different skills not taught in University, period, whether you're 1st year or 4th year or whatever. Now, someone with some computer science knowledge could probably learn enough to do it by themselves if they really wanted to. But you won't be able to do it just with stuff learned in school.

    Offline Abalone

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #83 on: October 31, 2016, 12:51:01 am »
    I reported Donkey and Meadows around 11 PM and it's still up.

    Offline AsianInspiration

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #84 on: October 31, 2016, 01:14:11 am »
    I think The Clever Man is making a statement about Amazon. The two paragraphs that are repeated (guess I shouldn't copy them here) could be interpreted as such.

    Curious, I ended up reading it. This guys' not a bad writer, it's actually kinda interesting :D Maybe not worth 9.99, but I'd borrow it if I had KU :D

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #85 on: October 31, 2016, 01:19:10 am »
    Curious, I ended up reading it. This guys' not a bad writer, it's actually kinda interesting :D Maybe not worth 9.99, but I'd borrow it if I had KU :D


     :'(   :-\  :-[   :-X

    Offline 555aaa

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #86 on: October 31, 2016, 07:22:59 am »
    Just a thought - these borrows could come not from scam (computer generated) accounts but from hacked low-activity accounts. They just need to be tied to real people who aren't using Amazon very much. You go to your hacker buddies and "buy" about a thousand legit accounts with passwords, hopefully ones that are inactive, sign them up for the 30 free day trial, do the borrows & reads, and then cancel the KU membership. Nothing shows up on the account owners credit card statements and the borrows all come from real, legitimate accounts. There's a market in hacked accounts for things like this.

    I think it's deliberate that they're obviously scam books and if the borrows come from real accounts, it'll be hard for Amazon to not pay out. As Gator said, the accounts can also be from real click farmers with real credit cards, which is totally "legit" and is still very profitable for the farmer. When I say legit, I mean that there is a real person with a real credit card as the account owner. The account owners get paid to read.  They're not reviewing, they are only "reading" and I don't see that as a violation of Amazon's TOS. It's still quite profitable for the organizer to do this. The low-tech method here only takes being a good organizer.
    « Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 07:26:31 am by 555aaa »

    Offline CozyReads

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #87 on: October 31, 2016, 07:45:49 am »
    I don't think these books are the typical scammer titles hoping to make a quick buck off of junk. These "books" are too in-your-face (you don't get much more visible than the Top 100). And if you read the titles and repeating paragraphs, they're clearly parables about Jeff/Amazon's business practices and how they're hurting authors and other vendors. I wish I would have saved the paragraphs from the books that have already been taken down. When you read between the lines, it's ironically humorous.

    Offline Bickernicks

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #88 on: October 31, 2016, 08:08:24 am »
    Quote
    Unfortunately, it doesn't take a superior IQ to build it.  Just a little skill that most computer users don't have.  A college freshman computer science student could pull this off -- if he had questionable morals.

    Aaahh..How about just a kboards author? :-P

    There is drag and drop automation software out there (https://ubotstudio.com/) that makes setting up accounts, clicking through things brutally easy. Watching the Indian guy go to work on this threads Silicon Valley video seems odd. They would just do it with automation software - but I get that it's easier to just SHOW a guy doing it for the TV show.

    How many kboards accounts do you want? (if I had questionable morals) ;-)


    Offline PhoenixS

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #89 on: October 31, 2016, 08:12:43 am »
    Just a thought - these borrows could come not from scam (computer generated) accounts but from hacked low-activity accounts. They just need to be tied to real people who aren't using Amazon very much. You go to your hacker buddies and "buy" about a thousand legit accounts with passwords, hopefully ones that are inactive, sign them up for the 30 free day trial, do the borrows & reads, and then cancel the KU membership. Nothing shows up on the account owners credit card statements and the borrows all come from real, legitimate accounts. There's a market in hacked accounts for things like this.

    I think it's deliberate that they're obviously scam books and if the borrows come from real accounts, it'll be hard for Amazon to not pay out. As Gator said, the accounts can also be from real click farmers with real credit cards, which is totally "legit" and is still very profitable for the farmer. When I say legit, I mean that there is a real person with a real credit card as the account owner. The account owners get paid to read.  They're not reviewing, they are only "reading" and I don't see that as a violation of Amazon's TOS. It's still quite profitable for the organizer to do this. The low-tech method here only takes being a good organizer.


    Whether the reads are technically legit or not doesn't matter. What little content the books have are from public domain works, which aren't eligible for Select.
    "The only books ineligible for enrollment are those for which you do not have exclusive rights for the primary content of the book (i.e., this content is in the public domain or others may also have the right to publish this content)."
    https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A6KILDRNSCOBA

    Plus, poor reader experience plus attempt to manipulate the ranks and page reads system by content-stuffing. Amazon has every right to not pay out on books that so blatantly violate their T&Cs for Select no matter what or who reads the books.

    And if Amazon doesn't pay out, and the farmer is paying actual live clickers, that's going to be an expensive nose-thumbing at Amazon. I'm betting it's bot-driven. The cost of a host of server farms able to mask IP and identity can easily be spread across multiple scam attempts through multiple accounts. Amazon may well slap down the account these particular scambooks originated from, but if the scammer has 80,000 Amazon account emails to choose from, that's a lot of whack-a-mole to use to obfuscate future uploads and more subtle scamming attempts.
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    Offline kdiem

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #90 on: October 31, 2016, 09:30:36 am »
    A few things cut for brevity in quotes, marked with ellipses.

    Ridiculously short sighted scamming.
    ... 
    I'm more tempted to believe that this is some kind of protest, or has some other nefarious purpose.  How could they be smart enough to build an operation like this, yet dumb enough to do it so poorly?

    Others have said how easy it is to automate some things, so I'll skip that. They're raking in a far bit of cash in a very short time, allowing them to pull up stakes and start elsewhere any time law enforcement or the legal system get too close. Also, why would doing it for cash and doing it to make fun of Amazon be mutually exclusive? I mean, (Dr.) Chuck Tingle's got a whole empire built around butt-centric parodies.

    ...  Or perhaps it's even the 'Zon doing it, to mask the real issues with KU.  And yes, I have plenty more tinfoil, if anyone wants some.

    Don't wear the tinfoil hat! Real science has proven it to amplify transmissions, rather than blocking.  :D MIT students can't possibly be wrong or subverted - here's a link to the study: http://web.archive.org/web/20100708230258/http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/.

    (In case anyone can't tell, my last paragraph was meant as humor. Please don't beat me up.)

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    Offline Melody Simmons

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #91 on: October 31, 2016, 11:39:07 am »
    Questions:

    Are any of the books still there because on the page indicated by the OP I see some well-known bestselling author names?

    How does one identify the scam books?  Only by checking reviews?  I mean how can someone say for sure there are exactly 4 scam books in the top 100 or something?  Did they check each book?

    Offline Athena Grayson

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #92 on: October 31, 2016, 11:42:50 am »
    Common sense doesn't require IQ either.

    But what you said is totally not true. As someone who have taken more than a year's worth of computer science in University, I can tell you that I have no idea how to do something like this. Or, well, I can guess/understand how it works, but the actual process of doing something like this requires A LOT of different skills not taught in University, period, whether you're 1st year or 4th year or whatever. Now, someone with some computer science knowledge could probably learn enough to do it by themselves if they really wanted to. But you won't be able to do it just with stuff learned in school.

    It's all database-based. Hosted on cloud databases, like the guy in the article did.

    *You* don't necessarily do it. Any of it. Let's face it, the top-level bottom-feeders are already skipping town on the Zon. They took what they were doing and packaged it up and are now selling it to other, later-to-the-game scammers. Joe Bagoscams has bought a pre-packaged package deal where he pays a few hundred for the software--or a login and password from a previously-successful account, a few thousand for the training vids, and a few bucks for the actual content. Joe punches a button and boom! suddenly his four publisher accounts have 150 scamphlets each. Priced at 9.99, every borrow gets a big lift from the algos, because the zon wants people to think about buying a 9.99 book. You run the programs exactly like the training vids tell you to, and stop them as soon as your time or quantity's been reached. You pull the books and shift the publications tot he next account. You stay under a certain threshold where the zon considers it a "cost of doing business" loss and you collect your money in 15k chunks because Amazon eats a 15k loss, but you're running 4 accounts, so you're making 60k a month and amazon is still eating it as the cost of doing business.

    Sure, the books are obvious, but don't forget, this is volume talking--quantity over quality. You don't just open one scam publishing account, you open three or four. You upload a hundred fake books. You have 86,000 fake KU "reader" bots. You make a hydra, which has many heads. Reporters and flags go up eventually when *authors* rather than readers notice, but in between the time it takes for those flags to accumulate enough to trip a trigger, you've already rolled up the tent and are halfway down the road to the next town while the good folks in River City, Iowa are still waiting to hear their kids play the Minuet in G. Torches and pitchforks will never run faster than trains out of town, and human complainers or the occasional bleary-eyed subcontractor who might actually look at the ranked titles will never be able to outrun or out-report the crap tsunami.

    What this should tell us is that, given the obviousness of the titles and covers, hardly any actual humans look further past the top 100 list, otherwise the reports would have come in earlier.

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #93 on: October 31, 2016, 11:45:35 am »
    Questions:

    Are any of the books still there because on the page indicated by the OP I see some well-known bestselling author names?

    How does one identify the scam books?  Only by checking reviews?  I mean how can someone say for sure there are exactly 4 scam books in the top 100 or something?  Did they check each book?

    I think they're all gone now, at least from the top 100. Those *books* where just one or two paragraphs repeated over and over.

    Offline Melody Simmons

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #94 on: October 31, 2016, 11:48:45 am »
    I think they're all gone now, at least from the top 100. Those *books* where just one or two paragraphs repeated over and over.

    Thanks.  I've seen some amazing covers on books and once you read inside they turn out to be rubbish.  So I guess the only way to know is to read the preview.  But some books do not display any inside-preview.

    Offline jchance

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #95 on: October 31, 2016, 01:33:58 pm »
    That was too fast and hard, too visible, to be scammers out to make money. Because you do not draw attention to yourself like that if you want to get away with it. You stay under the radar.

    I suspect at least some of that was the indie's version of Anonymous flipping Amazon the bird. I think the indie version would have a an apropos name,don't you?

    That was . . . Pseudonymous.

    Offline Cherise

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #96 on: October 31, 2016, 01:44:32 pm »
    ...if you read the titles and repeating paragraphs, they're clearly parables about Jeff/Amazon's business practices and how they're hurting authors and other vendors. I wish I would have saved the paragraphs from the books that have already been taken down. When you read between the lines, it's ironically humorous.


    Interesting. And frightening. Because the people who think that are mostly trade publishers. This does not bode well for indie authors, if it starts any kind of firestorm.

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #97 on: October 31, 2016, 01:48:31 pm »
    Thanks.  I've seen some amazing covers on books and once you read inside they turn out to be rubbish.  So I guess the only way to know is to read the preview.  But some books do not display any inside-preview.
    These aren't merely crap; they are all the same 2 paragraphs repeated over and over.
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    Offline JRTomlin

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #98 on: October 31, 2016, 01:49:29 pm »

    Interesting. And frightening. Because the people who think that are mostly trade publishers. This does not bode well for indie authors, if it starts any kind of firestorm.
    Actually it is slanderous nonsense.
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    Offline KelliWolfe

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    Re: Movers and Shakers taken over by Spammers?
    « Reply #99 on: October 31, 2016, 02:24:50 pm »
    It's nothing but Aesop's Fables sliced up and run through a synonymizer app. We've seen similar things before, this just seems to be a lot less sophisticated approach to generating the book text than the ones we were seeing a few months back. Most of them put enough effort into it that software detection would have posed a decent challenge.

    This seems to be someone who plonked down the money for the scripts and tools to become a KU Black Hat, but got bored with the instructions halfway through and just winged it and did the least amount of work to do what they thought would make a bunch of money really fast.

    The ones who are making money are the ones we're not seeing. I wanted to see if there was a lot of this stuff hiding in plain sight. I figured these guys are sharing tools and they probably use the same dictionary approach to naming their books. One of these was "The Clever Man" so I went to the Kindle Store and searched for clever. It returned about 1200 results. I found a bunch of scamplet-type books left over from KU 1.0 that are still hanging around, and books stolen from Feedbooks.com and just given new covers as camouflage. Amazon's website is painful to work with for this kind of thing and I gave up waiting for all the crap to load in their pages, but I made it from page 76 of the results to the mid-30s. I was only looking at the books that had Amazon's stock cover designs, too. I have no doubt that a lot of these guys are using stock images for cover art to make their books harder to pick out.

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