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Goodreads Ransom Scam by Alina Leonova

Goodreads Ransom Scam by Alina Leonova


Goodreads Ransom Scam And The Platform’s Astonishing Indifference

January 13th, 2021

A number of authors are being attacked by scammers who first post multiple fake 1-star reviews and ratings on Goodreads and then demand ransom to take them down.

If you are not a book geek, you might not be familiar with Goodreads. They are ‘the largest site for readers and book recommendations’ as they claim on Twitter. They are, essentially, a social network built around books. People track their reading, write reviews, discuss books, etc.

A lot of folks have criticized Goodreads because the website is obsolete and unituitive and hasn’t been improved in years. It was also bought by Amazon several years ago, which is viewed by many as a conflict of interest. All of it is true, but despite that, it still has millions of users who create all the value the website provides. It has a vibrant community of book geeks, a wealth of reviews that have been gathered for over 10 years (!) and book lists for every taste and whim. I’ve found some amazing books there just asking people for recommendations, connected with other authors and had a lot of fun discussing books. Until…

I stumbled upon a thread that was initially about something else, but quickly turned into several authors complaining about falling victim to the same scam. Dozens of 1-star ratings and reviews appeared under their books at the same time. They were all one-liners from private accounts without photos and said things like ‘Full Misogyny’ (always capitalized and this exact wording :D), racism, sexism, religious bigotry, etc. A few days later, someone contacted the authors saying they noticed they had a lot of bad reviews and offered to fix that for a fee and provide good ratings.

Screenshot from Goodreads: "Well, folks, my book is sunk. I now have many, many more one star ratings, none of which have been taken down. They say the same things over and over. That my book is racist, full of misogyny and outdated. Once again, I haven't even sold enough books for all of these to be actual readers. Do they not know that we keep up with the number of volumes we have sold and that their ploy is transparent? Anyway, I just can't fight this battle right now so I am going to take it down. Two years of hard work down the drain. I probably won't see you again. With sorrow, Julie."

Screenshot from Goodreads. Julie: "Guess what. Just now when I checked my author profile, I found an unsolicited offer from a company who "noticed I had a lot of bad ratings" and would "fix" them for me for a fee and provide good ratings. So, is Goodreads allowing shakedowns now?" MK: "I got the same offer. I forwarded it Goodreads."

Screenshot from Goodreads. Gordon:"I've had a similar offer wanting $200 to sort it out. Passed content to Goodreads and waiting for response."

No need to be a detective to see a criminal pattern here.

It got even more interesting when within the next day everyone on the thread was attacked by the same scammers, including me. It was the first time for some of us, while others just got hit again.


Read More Here


13 Responses

  1. jowensauthor says:

    Thanks for sharing the warning. I remember seeing someone on Twitter, I think, recently complaining about something like this happening to him.

  2. Mark Schultz says:

    Thanks for posting this, I will share it widely.

  3. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:

  4. V.M.Sang says:

    Goodreads is aiding a criminal activity if they do nothing to prevent it from happening continually. I know it’s probably a difficult one for them. They can take down the reviews, and even kick those accounts posting them off the site, but how do they prevent them from returning under another alias? I don’t know enough to be able to say if they can discover if they are the same people, or even who they are. If they can do so, these criminals should be reported to the police.
    This post has made me reconsider my involvement with Goodreads at all.

    • I don’t have much to do with Goodreads because I was informed it was full of Trolls… Though I do have an account. I wish something could be done about this. I feel sorry for anyone caught in the middle.

  5. franhunne4u says:

    I think I even saw one of those books concerned … and I wondered why so extreme ratings only.

    Thanks, now I know to look closer at the reviews.

    • I’m also glad Alina wrote about this… I’ve had books turned down for marketing due to reviews… (troll) so this goes to show we all need to keep our eyes open. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  6. Jemima Pett says:

    The trolls have a go particularly at forum moderators who are authors. It took a while, but Goodreads did take them down after I flagged it for them, and may have followed it up.

    I *think* most of the people that patrol that sort of thing are volunteers, so give them half a break. But the scam on top is ridiculous. Just flag those posts or messages and never pay people money unless you know them!

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