In this episode, we are going to talk about all the bad things people do on Amazon and how to protect yourself from Counterfeiting, Reviewbombing, and Copyright Hijacking.

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Our timing on the piracy episode (196) could not have been worse. The same week that episode came out a big counterfeiting scandal broke out. We didn’t even mention counterfeiting but a lot of people got confused … and thought we were saying counterfeiting is a good thing. It’s not!

The difference between piracy, counterfeiting and plagiarism.

  • Plagiarism: they steal the credit for your work.
  • Piracy: they share digital copies of your work for free without your permission
  • Counterfeiting: they sell physical counterfeits of your paper books.

In this episode we are going to talk about how to fight counterfeiting and the other ways nefarious people can make trouble for you on Amazon.

How Amazon Fights Fraud

  • Machine Learning
  • Outsourced Call Centers
  • They are trying to control costs as much as possible while fighting fraud because they make money when fraudulent products sell so fighting fraud is not a financially motivated fight. When Amazon is financially motivated to fight something, they have a U.S. based team working on it.

According to the New York Times: “In February, Amazon included counterfeiting in its financial disclosures as a risk factor for the first time, saying it might not be able to prevent its merchants “from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated or stolen goods” or “selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner.”

Attack #1 Counterfeiting

The story of the scandal.

Liturgy of the Ordinary

How it works:

  • Counterfeiter creates their own digital copy of your book.
  • Uploads it to a print on demand service and has books shipped to Amazon.
  • They undercut your price for a new book.
  • When a customer purchases a copy of your paper book, Amazon sends them to the lowest priced option which is the counterfeiter.


What to do about it:

  • Look for “Ships and Sold By Amazon” on the default buy button on your books on Amazon.
    • It is says Sold By Amazon and Ships from Scam Man Books … you could be being counterfeited.
    • Buy a copy from the sketchy sellers.
  • Check your Amazon page to make sure the buy button is owned by Amazon and not a 3rd party seller.
  • Periodically order books from 3rd party sellers and compare the quality, page layout, etc.


How to avoid it in the first place:

  • Write an unpopular book.
  • Lower the price of your paper book. The lower the price, the less appealing of a target you are.


Attack #2 Review Bombing

How it works

  • A competitor hires trolls to buy your book and then leave bad reviews.
  • A bigger problem in other product categories.
  • Alternate attack: 5 Star Bomb. The competitor gets a bunch of 5 star reviews added and then gets your book penalized for having fraudulent reviews.


What to do about it:

  • Click “Report Abuse” under the reviews you expect are fraudulent.
  • Ask your fans to report abuse under the review as well. This can also lead to more positive reviews as your fans come to your aid.
  • You also can do nothing, a few obviously bad 1 star reviews can actually boost sales.
  • Don’t ask for 5 star reviews from your launch team. You want a mix of reviews.


Attack # 3 Copyright/Trademark Hijacking

How this attack works.

  • Someone files a trademark or copyright on your work.
  • Then they complain to Amazon that your book violates their copyright or trademark.
  • Amazon then gives them control and revenue from your product pages.
  • You have to appeal to get it back.


What to do about it:

  • File Your Copyright with Your US Copyright Office (Or national equivalent)
  • File a Trademark if needed (We recommend




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