Moore was just one of hundreds of pseudonyms employed in a
sophisticated “catfishing” scheme run by Valeriy Shershnyov, whose
Vancouver-based business hoodwinked Amazon customers into buying
low-quality ebooks, which were boosted on the online marketplace
by an unscrupulous system of bots, scripts, and virtual servers.
Catfishing isn’t new — it’s been well documented. Some
scammers buy fake reviews, while others will try other ways to
game the system.
Until now, nobody has been able to look inside at how one of these
scams work — especially one that’s been so prolific, generating
millions of dollars in royalties by cashing in on unwitting buyers
who are tricked into thinking these ebooks have some substance.
Shershnyov was able to stay in Amazon’s shadows for two years
by using his scam server conservatively so as to not raise any
What eventually gave him away weren’t customer complaints or even
getting caught by the bookseller. It was good old-fashioned
carelessness. He forgot to put a password on his server.
Sounds like it’s time for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate iBooks again.