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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I've got some drama, and I need your advice. My books usually get a rating every few days on Goodreads, but that has changed quite drastically since April 12. In just five days, I have gotten more than 220 ratings from over 200 different user accounts on the first and second books of my series. I haven't run any promotions lately, so there is nothing to explain the sudden surge of ratings.

The ratings vary everywhere between one and five stars, but they more heavily favor lower ratings. My books have been out for over three years, and I've gotten more one and two star ratings in the last five days than I have ever gotten in the entirety of their publications. And the accounts are quite suspicious. The profile images are taken from everything including stock photos, social media posts, and even pictures taken from other Goodreads users' accounts. When you look at the accounts, you will also see that each was created in either December 2020 or January 2021. They have an average of 40-50 books rated with no reviews, and most of the accounts claim to come from Germany.

Since this has started, the ratings on my books have definitely dropped. Unfortunately, I have good reason to believe that these accounts were created by a family member who is mentally disturbed and in desperate need of treatment. She is notorious for catfishing and creating countless fake amounts online to manipulate and attack people. She's lost all of her friends over the years because they learned she catfished them into imaginary relationships. She's faked pregnancies, miscarriages, and hit an all-time low last year when she lied about having lung cancer. When another family member took pity on her and let her stay at his home, she rewarded him by secretly installing a camera in the house.

She's claiming to be pregnant again, but no one in the family is willing to give her the time of day, which is only infuriating her. And when she gets angry, she lashes out. She reportedly had a meltdown at the time this began, so it seems like a safe bet that she is the one trying to discretely deflate my ratings. Has anyone ever dealt with something like this? Is there legal action I can take?
 

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Ouch, that's a rough situation. Is there anything in the subject or content of your book that might trigger some people? I mean, it might definitely be the person you know who does these kind of things, but the internet is a weird place, and sometimes people see something in a book blub, don't like it for whatever reason, and go after that person.

You might try contacting goodreads. I'm not 100% sure how it works, if you are dealing with goodreads directly or if it is members with the librarian status. But at least there should be someone you can write to and say, hey, these are coming in and they're very suspicious.
 

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I would ask authorities if the behavior is criminally prosecutable under stalking or wire fraud laws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ouch, that's a rough situation. Is there anything in the subject or content of your book that might trigger some people? I mean, it might definitely be the person you know who does these kind of things, but the internet is a weird place, and sometimes people see something in a book blub, don't like it for whatever reason, and go after that person.

You might try contacting goodreads. I'm not 100% sure how it works, if you are dealing with goodreads directly or if it is members with the librarian status. But at least there should be someone you can write to and say, hey, these are coming in and they're very suspicious.
My books are Young Adult Paranormal Romance, falling in "The Vampire Diaries" meets "Teen Wolf" territory without any strong violence, sexual content, or traditional triggers. Thankfully, I did contact Goodreads earlier, so now I'm waiting on a response. I was expected to release another book in the very near future, but I don't to risk this new novel being attacked in the meantime. It's just so disheartening.


I would ask authorities if the behavior is criminally prosecutable under stalking or wire fraud laws.
If this persists, I will be contacting the authorities on Monday. That's a very interesting idea! The thought hadn't even occurred to me that this may very well be considered stalking or related to wire fraud. Thank you for the suggestion! 👍
 

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You might want to Google both the stalking laws and wire fraud laws (state and/or federal) for your state. Also, if you meet with authorities, it's good to go in prepared, everything written down, screen shotted etcetera. Note the dates and places on every item you can.
 

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It's strange that she picked up on you from so many authors on goodreads including me.

I think the best action is to contact goodreads. They can find out about her fake accounts and kick her out right away with no problem. Good luck!
 

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This will probably be an unpopular opinion and ignore me if you're not feeling me on this, but pursuing this is a waste of your time and it's going to go nowhere slowly. Wire fraud and cyber stalking may technically be happening, but in a way that could be prosecuted? Probably not. Real stalking and serious scams often don't get taken seriously, so this is a reach. Do you have any concrete proof it's her other than a funny feeling? You could contact GR, and see if they're willing to look into it, but pursuing legal action will be a time and money sink if you insist on it, and it will likely dead end somewhere unsatisfying.

I'm sorry someone's doing this to you.
 

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Okay, I've got some drama, and I need your advice. My books usually get a rating every few days on Goodreads, but that has changed quite drastically since April 12. In just five days, I have gotten more than 220 ratings from over 200 different user accounts on the first and second books of my series. I haven't run any promotions lately, so there is nothing to explain the sudden surge of ratings.

The ratings vary everywhere between one and five stars, but they more heavily favor lower ratings. My books have been out for over three years, and I've gotten more one and two star ratings in the last five days than I have ever gotten in the entirety of their publications. And the accounts are quite suspicious. The profile images are taken from everything including stock photos, social media posts, and even pictures taken from other Goodreads users' accounts. When you look at the accounts, you will also see that each was created in either December 2020 or January 2021. They have an average of 40-50 books rated with no reviews, and most of the accounts claim to come from Germany.

Since this has started, the ratings on my books have definitely dropped. Unfortunately, I have good reason to believe that these accounts were created by a family member who is mentally disturbed and in desperate need of treatment. She is notorious for catfishing and creating countless fake amounts online to manipulate and attack people. She's lost all of her friends over the years because they learned she catfished them into imaginary relationships. She's faked pregnancies, miscarriages, and hit an all-time low last year when she lied about having lung cancer. When another family member took pity on her and let her stay at his home, she rewarded him by secretly installing a camera in the house.

She's claiming to be pregnant again, but no one in the family is willing to give her the time of day, which is only infuriating her. And when she gets angry, she lashes out. She reportedly had a meltdown at the time this began, so it seems like a safe bet that she is the one trying to discretely deflate my ratings. Has anyone ever dealt with something like this? Is there legal action I can take?
Goodreads should be able to determine if these are accounts are made from the same computer (or at least limited computers) and if so they can bloke these accounts and further attempts to create new ones from that computer/s....however that won't stop them from using another computer to create accounts. Hopefully, Goodreads can remove all comments and ratings made from these fake accounts. Sad that this has happened to you and hope you can get it sorted out.
 

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Okay, I've got some drama, and I need your advice. My books usually get a rating every few days on Goodreads, but that has changed quite drastically since April 12. In just five days, I have gotten more than 220 ratings from over 200 different user accounts on the first and second books of my series. I haven't run any promotions lately, so there is nothing to explain the sudden surge of ratings.

The ratings vary everywhere between one and five stars, but they more heavily favor lower ratings. My books have been out for over three years, and I've gotten more one and two star ratings in the last five days than I have ever gotten in the entirety of their publications. And the accounts are quite suspicious. The profile images are taken from everything including stock photos, social media posts, and even pictures taken from other Goodreads users' accounts. When you look at the accounts, you will also see that each was created in either December 2020 or January 2021. They have an average of 40-50 books rated with no reviews, and most of the accounts claim to come from Germany.

Since this has started, the ratings on my books have definitely dropped. Unfortunately, I have good reason to believe that these accounts were created by a family member who is mentally disturbed and in desperate need of treatment. She is notorious for catfishing and creating countless fake amounts online to manipulate and attack people. She's lost all of her friends over the years because they learned she catfished them into imaginary relationships. She's faked pregnancies, miscarriages, and hit an all-time low last year when she lied about having lung cancer. When another family member took pity on her and let her stay at his home, she rewarded him by secretly installing a camera in the house.

She's claiming to be pregnant again, but no one in the family is willing to give her the time of day, which is only infuriating her. And when she gets angry, she lashes out. She reportedly had a meltdown at the time this began, so it seems like a safe bet that she is the one trying to discretely deflate my ratings. Has anyone ever dealt with something like this? Is there legal action I can take?
You may be right about the family member, but maybe not. I had exactly the same thing happen to me on Goodreads with my first book Amazon.com: The Second Korean War (The Russian Agents Book 1) eBook: Halstead, Ted: Kindle Store, except it was thousands of bogus reviews, not hundreds. Both I and many who responded on KBoards thought the culprit was a bot attack service hired by a rival writer.
It might be interesting to look at the "reviewers" for my book on Goodreads and for yours. If there's any overlap, then I think you could be sure you're the victim of a bot attack service, and your relative has nothing to do with it.
 

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You may be right about the family member, but maybe not. I had exactly the same thing happen to me on Goodreads with my first book Amazon.com: The Second Korean War (The Russian Agents Book 1) eBook: Halstead, Ted: Kindle Store, except it was thousands of bogus reviews, not hundreds. Both I and many who responded on KBoards thought the culprit was a bot attack service hired by a rival writer.
It might be interesting to look at the "reviewers" for my book on Goodreads and for yours. If there's any overlap, then I think you could be sure you're the victim of a bot attack service, and your relative has nothing to do with it.
I spent an hour searching for this thread so I could link it here, so I'm glad you showed up. I could remember the book had to do with the history of some country, but couldn't remember which. I tried Germany, Russia, and China in my searches. Korea never even entered my mind. Even still, searching here and via Google should have returned something for a Goodreads and Russia search, but it didn't.
 

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I spent an hour searching for this thread so I could link it here, so I'm glad you showed up. I could remember the book had to do with the history of some country, but couldn't remember which. I tried Germany, Russia, and China in my searches. Korea never even entered my mind. Even still, searching here and via Google should have returned something for a Goodreads and Russia search, but it didn't.
Even if the fake accounts are different, my money is still on a bot attack service hired by a rival writer rather than a relative. The hallmarks of the attacks, like frequent use of stock photos, are just too similar. Ironically, most real Goodreads accounts feature no photo!
 

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Funnily enough, about a couple of months ago I received an email from Goodreads which informed everyone that they were about to forbid users from having more than one account. Apparently, it never transpired.
 

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Funnily enough, about a couple of months ago I received an email from Goodreads which informed everyone that they were about to forbid users from having more than one account. Apparently, it never transpired.
I think the problem is that Goodreads has no way to prevent one person from creating multiple accounts. Amazon has a requirement that you be an active customer to post a review. That requires spending money. A bot review attack service can only flourish when you can create multiple accounts without spending a penny.
 

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Funnily enough, about a couple of months ago I received an email from Goodreads which informed everyone that they were about to forbid users from having more than one account. Apparently, it never transpired.
That's weird, cause GR actually encourages you to create a separate account if you have a pen name. Maybe that's why they gave up on that approach realizing it would mess up pen name accounts?
 

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I spent an hour searching for this thread so I could link it here, so I'm glad you showed up. I could remember the book had to do with the history of some country, but couldn't remember which. I tried Germany, Russia, and China in my searches. Korea never even entered my mind. Even still, searching here and via Google should have returned something for a Goodreads and Russia search, but it didn't.
I had a similar attack with my book (nearly 2000 bots from Germany, Poland and other countries). They drop ratings bombs on my little indie book about about my grandmother’s holocaust survival story and a number of other books (mix of known and unknown books but often personal and ethnic stories).

I would say that I don’t think it’s your relative. Rather it looks like the same spammers/bots that have INFESTED Goodreads for the past year or more. The bots follow a similar pattern: they mass dump ratings on books (ratings range from 1-5 stars but are mostly low to drop the overall book rating but still evade Goodreads‘ detection process). They use mostly stock or random facebook profile photos, They’re are all newly created accounts that bulk drop ratings at the same time and never have any written reviews (it’s all automation).

Basically it looks like one or a couple of idiots with an automated software hack but I still have yet to figure our what the reasoning is for it as they don’t seem to have much to gain (except for maybe ransoming authors to pay to take the fake ratings down). I can say that despite reporting nearly daily to Goodreads they have done basically nothing about it - even though I have pointed them to and flagged nearly 2000 fake accounts. It really seems like they want this to happen. I don’t get it. So many of us Goodreads fans are ready to walk over this and now they’ve got Russian porn bots on the comments section! Ugh! Please voice your fury to Goodreads so that maybe they’ll finally take action.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I had a similar attack with my book (nearly 2000 bots from Germany, Poland and other countries). They drop ratings bombs on my little indie book about about my grandmother’s holocaust survival story and a number of other books (mix of known and unknown books but often personal and ethnic stories).

I would say that I don’t think it’s your relative. Rather it looks like the same spammers/bots that have INFESTED Goodreads for the past year or more. The bots follow a similar pattern: they mass dump ratings on books (ratings range from 1-5 stars but are mostly low to drop the overall book rating but still evade Goodreads‘ detection process). They use mostly stock or random facebook profile photos, They’re are all newly created accounts that bulk drop ratings at the same time and never have any written reviews (it’s all automation).

Basically it looks like one or a couple of idiots with an automated software hack but I still have yet to figure our what the reasoning is for it as they don’t seem to have much to gain (except for maybe ransoming authors to pay to take the fake ratings down). I can say that despite reporting nearly daily to Goodreads they have done basically nothing about it - even though I have pointed them to and flagged nearly 2000 fake accounts. It really seems like they want this to happen. I don’t get it. So many of us Goodreads fans are ready to walk over this and now they’ve got Russian porn bots on the comments section! Ugh! Please voice your fury to Goodreads so that maybe they’ll finally take action.
Well, for my family member’s sake, she better not be behind this. I already consulted with an attorney in May, who confirmed there were three possible criminal offenses she could be charged with for her actions. Thankfully, the ratings-bomb stopped in early June, so I tried to be the bigger person and let it go. But it just so happens this ratings-bomb stupidity started up again in the past couple of weeks. I told my fiancé about it, and oh boy, he is livid. He wants nothing more right now than for this family member to leave all of us alone, so he’s contacted the attorney again. Plus, my stepsister reached out to an IT specialist she knows from the military who is willing to do a deep dive into the case when his schedule clears next month.
I know as an outsider, this probably looks overdramatic, but this family member just will not stop harassing us in every way she can. For whatever reason, she can’t seem to understand that nobody wants anything to do with her. She torments people for her own amusement and just expects everyone to forgive and forget without so much as an apology. Another member of the family is looking into pressing charges against her for emotional abuse. She’s THAT bad. And even if this family member is using a VPN, we’re willing to do the legwork to get a court order for the police to look into the Goodreads matter if it means she’ll be stopped.
 

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I agree with some others on this post that the culprit is probably not your relative.


Not saying the perpetrator is not your family member. Just that it would be a shame if you went nuclear on your family member for doing this, and she in fact didn't do it.

IDK how you can get rid of the fake reviews, short of bugging Goodreads until they finally take the reviews down. They must be used to doing that by now.
 

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One thing to remember is that all forms of content right now are seeing heavy competition, both within and outside their genres and platforms -- be it books, short stories, music, podcasts, video, etc. I have seen complaints online from various content creators about sales and revenue issues.

The culprit could be a competitor. Just sayin'.
 
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