Update On The Ransom Scam - Goodreads Responds

January 22nd, 2021
Cover image of the post

I've received a response from the Goodreads team regarding the ransom scam today. Since my post about the scam has been getting a lot of traction, I believe that it will be fair to share this update.

If you don't know what this is about, you'd better check out the original post, but in short, scammers attack authors with fake 1-star ratings and reviews on Goodreads (a website about books / book-centered social network) and demand ransom to 'fix' those later.

Actually, there is one more update that is worth mentioning. Two authors said on this thread that after the fake reviews and accounts were deleted by Goodreads support, they received threats from the scammers.

Threats screenshot. MK, Jan 18, 2021: "UPDATE I received a vulgar and threatening email today that came from GoodReads via a message someone sent to me. Once I logged in the message was gone.  The language and threats were ridiculous.  I sent it to Goodreads for a Senior Management response. Modified for clean content  MK,  Joseph Salgado has sent you a message on Goodreads!  Joseph Salgado said,  TIME TO MAKE YOU STOP BEING A FREELOADER AND START BEING A PAYING CUSTOMER. open your wallet and surrender to my offers azzhole, else i will humiliate you real bad in public. okay? This is just a small sample. let us see how many accounts you can report f---er. i will be after your azz like a nightmare. the next time offers flood your inbox, just PAY UP. Else... bye. Don't bother tracking me coz I will be deleting this account shortly. Haha."

Threats screenshot. Mark: "MK, I received the exact same e-mail you did from "Joseph". Unfortunately I believe that same individual than went onto the Goodreads thread I started on 1/12/21 and entered about 6 comments from separate individuals bashing me as an author and my book. Beyond frustrating!"

But let's return to the subject of Goodreads response. Originally, most of the authors including me didn't get a response when we contacted support, even though they dealt with the fake reviews. However, I got an email from them on 14 January. They apologized for not getting back to me sooner, assured me they deleted the fake accounts and said: "If you have any further questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to let us know."

I took the opportunity to share my concerns and asked them if anything was done to prevent this from happening (nicely, because there are human beings on the receiving end). Honestly, I didn't expect a reply. But today, I got it. They said that they were working with their 'engineering teams to investigate possible solutions to prevent this from happening in the future.'

Email from Goodreads screenshot. 'Hi Alina, ​ Thank you for your response, though we sincerely apologize for the delayed reply on our part. We wanted to be sure to note that we have a number of measures in place to determine whether or not an account is illegitimate or abusive, and that we apply these to each case we come across. If we determine that an account is illegitimate, we take appropriate action. ​ While we don't share our specific moderation procedures for obvious reasons, please rest assured we are working with our engineering teams to investigate possible solutions to prevent this from happening in the future. We appreciate your patience during the process. ​ We want our members to have a positive and comfortable experience on Goodreads and we're so sorry you had this distressing experience. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out and we'll be happy to help. ​ Sincerey, The Goodreads Team'

I really hope this is true! I also hope it will make everyone who has been attacked by scammers feel better and safer. Maybe our experience will help protect others from similar attacks and make Goodreads a bit better. Of course, I don't know if anything will actually change, but I feel it's important to share this update, since I was speaking about the Goodreads staff indifference in my first blogpost, and it seems that I was wrong. We'll see what the future will bring, but hopefully, it will be harder for the scammers and brighter for everyone else.

Want to discover new sci-fi authors?Subscribe!