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Fri Apr 27, 2018, 03:56 PM

Fake books sold on Amazon in money-laundering scheme

I know there are some published authors in this group. You too might be part of a money-laundering scam, without your knowledge. The problem is when the IRS comes calling, wanting you to pay taxes on all the income you never received...

“Worthless” books priced at up to thousands, of dollars on Amazon.com and which contain only nonsensical text have been identified as possible vehicles for money laundering by an author whose name was, he says, used to send almost $24,000 (£17,200) to an unknown and fraudulent seller.

Amazon’s self-publishing arm CreateSpace makes it relatively straightforward to publish a title that contains any text, provided that this isn’t “placeholder” or dummy text, and allowing fake books to be sold on the Amazon website at a price chosen by the seller.

For a highly priced title, the author can earn royalties of up to 60% for a paperback, or 70% for an ebook. While the internet retailer requires valid taxpayer identification from all its publishers, one affected author, the US-based business writer Patrick Reames, says that a fraudster used his social security number to pose as him, and publish a book under his name.

Reames spoke to the Guardian after Amazon sent him a US government 1099 tax form last month informing him that CreateSpace had paid him tens of thousands of dollars in 2017. Reames, who only makes a few hundred dollars a year from his business titles, searched for his own name on Amazon.com and discovered that, as well as the books he had written himself, which are sold via a publisher, rather than self-published via CreateSpace, a title named Lower Days Ahead also appeared under his name. Selling for $555 (£397), the book contained what appeared to be a computer-generated story.



https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/27/fake-books-sold-amazon-money-laundering

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