By Lori Perkins
A very disturbing report has surfaced about an extortion scam demanding authors pay to erase targeted negative and one-star reviews on Amazon-owned Goodreads.
USA Today best-selling author Zoe York called attention to the scam on her Twitter account where she reproduced the letter that is being sent to authors suddenly targeted with one-star and derogatory reviews:
“You will need to buy your paid reviews offers else we will badmouth your book everywhere starting here. Next up will be more sh**ty comments and more bad reviews. Either you take care of our needs and requirements with your wallet or we’ll ruin your author career. Our services are quite cheap and you can easily pay. Enjoy the sh*t and know that you will get more if you don’t start shopping ASAP. Neither Goodreads nor your fucking author buddies can or will save you from us. Pay us or disappear from Goodreads for your own good. You are under our watch. Always remember you may be clever but we are cleverer. Bye.”
York then went on to link to a page of sample bad and one-star reviews, which, according to author Megan Frampton, are recently created accounts. The reviews bombard a book with comments such as “racist” or “Misogyny.”
Author Beth Black noticed these damaging reviews on her Goodreads page and addressed them there. “As many of you know by now, my books were attacked yesterday by cyber-criminals. They sent me emails demanding a ransom payment. When I didn't pay, they used fake Goodreads profiles to attack my work.
They even low-starred a renowned literary journal that had published one of my tales. And it looks like they're attacking many other authors, as well. Do not believe the ratings and reviews!”
When authors write to Goodreads, the reviews are removed in a day or two, but new ones, sometimes as many as 30, appear almost immediately.
Said York, “Goodreads is taking down these review related to this extortion...I don’t usually complain about Goodreads, but their system should have some kind of built-in ‘hey, this account seems like an abusive turd who is using this to bully someone’ flag.”
York and Frampton contacted the Goodreads librarians, a group of Goodreads members who try to sort out Goodreads issues, but other than getting specific reviews pulled down, they were no help.
This is an issue Goodreads needs to address, because it damages their credibility as a legitimate source for readers.