I used to think of the internet as a lovely garden. You could wander down intriguing paths and find all sorts of lovely sites. Sometimes, you might even luck out and find a place offering something for free. And who doesn’t love to get something free.
Unfortunately, the other day I followed some signs claiming to have freebies, but when I got there, I found nothing but weeds.
I’m talking about scamming sites, phishing sites. Sites that offer you something for nothing…and not just any something, my something. These places were offering my book for free. The sites claim that all you need to do is give them some personal information and you can get a free copy of my book. But the truth of it is, I didn’t authorize a giveaway of my book, and they don’t have copies of my book. What they have is a way to lure you into giving them your personal information and you get nothing, except hurt feelings and maybe some anger at me, the author, for not following through.
So far, my husband and I have come across these seven (7) web sites offering to let you download my book, The Starstone, for free, but there may be others that we haven’t found (yet):
- Mortgage Magic System
- Elka Acne Storage
- Zippy Share
- Media Fire
- Deposit Files
- Freak Share
The site listings appear like this in a Google or Yahoo search:
My spouse and I are reporting these sites to the Federal Trade Commission; however, I doubt that it will keep them (or ones like them) from popping up under some other name. Sites like these are like weeds, even when you kill one patch, they pop up in another cluster somewhere else.
Do not give any of these sites your information…in fact, don’t give any site that isn’t secured any personal information. A secured site is one that starts with an https:// (The ‘S’ at the end of the http indicates that it is secured.) Also, please feel that you can ask me whether I’m hosting free books at some site other than say, Amazon, my blog (here), or some other recognized book selling site.
For fellow authors, be sure to check your own books to ensure that scammers aren’t using them to phish with. The last thing any of us wants is for our names, brands, and books to be tarnished by someone else’s flagrant misuse of them.
If any of you find any phishing sites of any type, be sure to report them to the FTC (at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/) and to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (at
firstname.lastname@example.org). Perhaps if we all remain efficient gardeners, we might eventually keep the weeds from polluting our lovely garden of books.