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Watch Out For Scammers in Amazon’s Kindle eBook Store

Kindle Apps

Crooks always seem to find new ways to use technology to their advantage and scam people out of their money. Unfortunately for us ebook readers, Internet scammers’ latest trick is to embed hyperlinks in ebooks that direct readers to malicious websites.

One of the cool features of ebooks is that hyperlinks can be embedded directly into the text for readers looking for more information. So if you’re reading an ebook on a device with a web browser (like the Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.) you can tap on a link in the book and be taken to an outside website.

The problem, according to ZDNet [2], is that there are self-published books in Amazon’s Kindle store that are full of links to various scams. The author of the article purchased a $2.99 title that was supposed to be about weddings, but ended up being only 10 paragraphs of useless information followed by a bunch of links to scams. He reported the book to Amazon, and they refunded his money and pulled the book from the store. However, the same author still has 23 other books in the Kindle store.

So, given that just about anyone can publish an ebook these days, what’s the solution? It’s just not possible for Amazon to read every book in the Kindle store, but I would think that if they receive a complaint about an author that they would review all their other titles. They could also disable links in books, but then readers would lose one of the big pros of ebooks.

Basically, I think it’s really up to Kindle app users to be careful when they buy self-published books by an unfamiliar author. I’m not saying all self-published books are bad, but you do need to be a little cautious when buying them. So how do you know which books in the Kindle store are self-published? It’s not like they are labeled, so you just have to pay attention. You’re first clue will probably be the price—usually .99 or $2.99. Then look and see if “Amazon Digital Services” is listed in the “Sold By” field—that’s usually a sign that the book is self-published. I’ve also gotten in the habit of looking at what name is listed under “Publisher.” If it’s not a publisher I recognize, a quick Google search usually tells me if it’s a digital publishing service.

Have you run into any malicious links in an ebook? What do you think is the best solution to this problem?

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons [3]