How my book ‘Lei’ became the target of ‘phishing’ attack

By Somali K Chakrabarti

We keep hearing about cyber hacking, malware and scams such as phishing , but it hits us the most when the security of our own site or our copyrighted material is compromised upon. I am sharing with you how my kindle book ‘Lei : A wreath for your soul’  recently became the target of a phishing scam.

I was startled when I noticed that  ‘Lei : A wreath for your soul’ was available free for download on a particular website.  To my utmost surprise the website also carried some reviews of my book along with comments from users who had downloaded the book. The screenshot is attached below.

Phishing

 

Phishing2

As you can see in the first screenshot, the site owner has claimed that the book is available in word, ppt, epub and mobi versions as well. Clicking on the download link took me to another link where a pdf version was available for download.

Phishing3
Obviously it felt awful to see that someone had so blatantly infringed on my copyright.

Reporting the Problem

The immediate recourse that I took was to report the problem to Amazon, as I have opted for KDP Select program, which requires me to place the digital book exclusively on kindle.

To remove the site from search results, I reported the problem to Google, using the link Removing Content From Google and found it to be a cumbersome process.

After a day I heard back from Amazon saying that they have taken extensive measures to ensure the files remain secure through their services, and have not provided the files to them. They suggested that I contact the website.

This didn’t solve my problem, but their warning that it could be a phishing site, exposed me to the possibilities of a phishing attack.

 

Phishing attack

Phishing, typically involves a fraudulent website that solicits personal, confidential, and financial information. The owner or the “phisher” persuades people to visit the site. Though phishers succeed in only a few instances, but the substantial rewards they can reap from even a single victim and the ease with which they can simultaneously launch numerous attempts makes this criminal activity lucrative.

Such sites operate in different ways. They may upload content and then ask for money to remove the content.  They may also list content they do not have and offer “free downloads” as a way to entice customers into providing secure customer information.

I discussed the issue with my friend and co-blogger Lata Subramanian, who also suggested me to contact the website, confirm my rights and ask for removal of the content, which I did. She also advised that is  better to have separate email ids for bank transaction and for use on social media.

The incident reiterates the importance of not disclosing  any private information, including a credit card, to any suspicious website. 

I wanted to spread the word around.  The site is still up and running.

Please beware of phishing attacks.

 


Resolution 

As an update to this post , wanted to share that finally, after 10 days of filing the complaint with Google, I have received an email from Google that in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, one of the urls (fusiontable) will be disabled and the other will be removed from Google search results. 

The month ends on a happy note.

 


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Readers Comments (66)

  1. This is really very bad. But, this shows the popularity of your book. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
    I do hope that nobody gets your book from unauthorised source.

    Reply
  2. This is absolutely unacceptable. Writer’s always face problems with plagiarism, but this has gone too far. If a reputable website cannot protect the contents and work then it is a problem. I think you should contact the domain owner (of the fraudulent site) and lodge a strong complaint and ask the site to take down the book and stop the sale/transactions, immediately.

    Reply
  3. This is so so bad Somali. I am shocked to read this.

    Reply
  4. Oh God this is so not done. But you did absolutely right by putting it across and let the people know.

    Reply
  5. Great information to share. Unfortunately it happened to you. Best of luck in getting it cleared up sooner than later.

    Reply
  6. Oh, I am so sorry to hear about it Somali, that is a horrible thing to happen for a fresh book. I hope it gets resolved soon.

    Reply
  7. This is very sad indeed. I hope things get sorted at the earliest.

    Thanks for sharing, Somali.

    Reply
  8. Its not nice to read and come across such incident. it’s even more worrying that the issue hasn’t been resolved. I can understand how it feels to encounter this problem. Hope it gets sorted out asap.

    Reply
  9. This is alarming. Don’t share any personal information with the site. Lata has suggested rightly. I never share credit card details online, even for authentic sites, I double check every minute detail. The best one can do is to spread the word as much as possible, so that no genuine reader of your book gets trapped. I hope the issue will be sorted out soon…

    Reply
  10. This is a good thing u did . may be amazon will take some necessary step to help u. But then we should still be aware of phishing and do not enter any sensitive information on phished site if u find it skeptical

    Reply
  11. Sad to hear this.Hope the issue will be sorted soon.

    Reply
  12. this is shocking to say the least! but you took a good course. hope this gets sorted out quickly

    Reply
  13. Omg. Thats really bad. Feeling very bad for you Somali. Reach to the website and also check if cyber crime dept can help in anyway as you hold copyright for the book and the website has breached the copyright.

    Reply
  14. Curse of the digital world. Especially when your hard and dear work is put up there without your knowledge and approval. Hoping it to get resolved soon. Thanks for sharing the word. It is really informative.

    Reply
  15. I’m so sorry this happened to you! Really terrible!

    Reply
  16. I’m so glad you took the necessary steps and contacted the authorities. I wish you all the best.

    Reply
  17. It is good that you took the necessary steps because this kind of activity is common nowadays. Good luck & I have your book downloaded in my Kindle. Will read it soon. Take care, Somali 🙂

    Reply
  18. I suggest you go for a print version immediately so that you can claim your rights.

    Reply
  19. This is terrible, but glad that you spotted this and took action. Some people can be so selfish. I’m sure you’ve put a lot of work into your book, and no one should ever have the right to steal it.

    Reply
  20. OMG, Somali! This is shocking. Some people go to any lengths to steal.It’s a good thing that you’ve spread the word, wouldn’t want any genuine reader to be robbed. 🙁 But how did the site get hold of your book? The book isn’t available anywhere else except Amazon, is it?
    Have a great day!

    Reply
  21. So sorry this happened, hope it gets worked out Somali!

    Reply
  22. Somali, sorry for the delayed response. This is something of great concern to all of us. The digital asset we keep creating on the online platform is something we take it for granted in terms of safety and protection, but I have faced the problem of hacking of site to plagiarism but not of the kind you have faced, this is so disturbing to handle it, yes there are no such proper mechanism to get it addressed. It is indeed of much concern when it happening with such reputed sites…we need to take action and register our protest in the appropriate forum, this is not easy to resolve but at the same time we cannot leave it. I can understand the challenge, do let me know if any way I can of any help to you.
    By the way hope it has been fully resolved and something we all need to learn and be careful in protecting and preventing from such threats.
    😀

    Reply
    • Thanks Nihar. No it hasn’t been resolved. Not yet. I am not sure how fusiontables works and why Google doesn’t remove it but I see that fusiontables has illegal books by many authors. The only thing I can do is to spread the word around so that people do not use or share information on such sites.

      Reply
      • Yes Somali, this is crazy, indeed difficult to fathom the non-action by Google and fusion tables the functioning, really perplexing. Unless we present collective protest and yes sometime it is impossible to understand the way these things function and there are nobody to take accountability, the grey areas in the digital space not yet address and no protection digital asset we keep creating…
        Let me also check up and see what best can be done and how to mitigate the risk…
        😀

        Reply
  23. Hi Somali,

    I am shocked to hear this. I had only heard about such attacks, it is so sad that your book has to face all this and there is nobody to help! Actually Amazon should take care of such attacks since we have placed our books on their site. The accountability lies with them. I hope you would find a solution to this menace. Sending you my best wishes.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your wishes Balroop. It could also be the case that the site doesnlt actually have the book but is using the cover from Amazon and fake reviews to lure people to download it from the site in exchange of some information. I don’t know . I think Google should put down such sites, but they don’t.

      Reply
  24. Thank you, Somali, for sharing this awful experience, which is an eye-opener. I will certainly be even more careful in my use of the Internet.

    Reply
  25. As I’m also working on my first book, this is a scary thought, but to me it already happened, with my blog. Someone stole my content and pretended is his. I did the same thing, and removed his content from the web. I so hate when people do such things… I hope you won’t have this problem again!

    Reply
  26. This seems to be the nightmare of every writer… I hope you get this sorted soon..

    Reply
  27. Scary! Didn’t you report to cyber cell as a cyber crime? Or is it a fallout between AMazon & Google?

    Reply

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