Scammers used stolen credentials to publish and sell books.
Identity theft can take on many different forms, depending on what the criminal does with the information. Someone’s stolen credentials could be used to open a new credit card, make a large purchase, seek medical care, or even get a job in order to avoid paying taxes or losing their government benefits. Other victims have reported that thieves used their data to apply for welfare benefits, unemployment benefits, or disability.
Identity thieves have found an ingenious way to launder funds through authors’ accounts on Amazon, using stolen credentials to publish a book. Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security spoke with an author who only found out about the scam when he received a government tax document for over $20,000 in book sales for a book he never wrote or published.
One author received a 1099 form from Amazon in order to file his tax returns with the IRS. The only problem was he hadn’t sold nearly as many books as the form stated based on income. After investigating the matter, he found that someone had uploaded some titles using his identity in a separate author account. The books, upon inspection, were filled with nothing but random garbage; even more suspiciously, the retail prices of the books were in the hundreds of dollars.
After doing some digging, the finding is that someone was using stolen credit card numbers to buy copies of these dubious books. The money was directly deposited into the scammer’s account without the author knowing about it. The situation only presented itself when the author received tax documents for all of those sales.
Email ‘help line’
Amazon has now launched an email account to help any other authors who suspect they are victims of this same scam. If you feel like your identity has been compromised and books have been sold using your personal identifiable information, contact Amazon through firstname.lastname@example.org. Affected authors will need to inquire before the April tax filing deadline in order to avoid delaying their returns with the IRS.