Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hacked Again! Book Thieves Are Registered in Portland, Oregon

You would think the FBI would get its act together and shut down "NS.CLOUDFLARE.COM". With a dubious reputation, this entity is clearly engaged in online theft of copyrighted materials. How do I know? My book sales dropped again, despite big promotions and marketing efforts.

Whenever that happens, I go on a hunt, to find out where my books are being offered for free. After all, what's the point of having a copyright if my rights aren't protected?

I found more than one of my books at the "ebookbrowse.com" website. The page says it's just a listing of books, and there are no actual downloads provided by the website. That's true. They list the book and the link takes you off-site, but to another page operated by the same criminals. These criminals aren't paying me my royalties for my copyrighted books.

I previously wrote about "bookfind.co", another e-book website stealing copyrighted material and providing it for free. Now there's a new scam, obviously designed to make "ebookbrowse.com" look legitimate. On one spot on my book's page, there is a legitimate link to one of my digital publishers, Smashwords, and yes, the link takes you there. But those other two "buttons"? They offer my book in its entirety in PDF format, for free. My royalties are out the window, along with all my hard work, my intellectual efforts, and my civil rights.

But it gets better. I searched for more information on the company and found a positive review of the website by Roger Hollings. He claims to be from Maine and identifies himself as a senior writer at "Killerstartups.com". Only one problem. Roger only has a couple of listings on Google, just for Killerstartups. How can a writer be a writer if he doesn't write? Shouldn't we be able to see all of Roger's extensive work as the senior writer if he's been busy publishing? Or would that be pub-phishing? Everything I see on the "Killerstartups.com" website screams fraud. And yet, the company purchased the "startups.com" domain name for $500,000 not long ago, turning it into an extension of "Killerstartups.com". The first thing that springs to my mind is that the company is actually trolling for intellectual property to steal, and by posing as an entity to help Internet entrepreneurs, it positions itself to knock the competition off its feet. But then, my efforts to gather public information on the shadowy Roger Hollings were less than satisfactory. I am trained in information science, so I can assure you I know how to use search terms effectively. Mr. Hollings doesn't want people to know about him, any more than the owners of the "Killerstartups.com" website want you to know about what they're really doing. Maybe they are more closely linked to the "ebookbrowse.com" thieves than they want the public to know. By having each other's back, they are able to deceive visitors to use their sites.

What is the point of copyrighting material if there are no apparent protections under federal law? We're talking about a company that is registered in Portland, Oregon as NCAPPOLINE.INFO. There's even a post office box, 4120. And you need the phone number? It's 202-470-0599.

According to the Better Business Bureau, this phone number belongs to a very unsavory business entity, identified as the Deadly Deal, complete with a website of that name:

Phone: (202) 470-0599
Fax: (866) 366-6681
PO Box 4120, Portland, OR 97208-4120

The Deadly Deal got nailed by the FCC in 2011. You can find out more by viewing File No.: EB-09-SE-082, regarding the illegal marketing of cell phone jammers.  In case you think cell phone jammers are harmless, consider what they can do in the hands of terrorists launching an attack here in the US, be it a violent terror attack or a cyber attack. Don't forget that WiFi works on radio waves, and that is what cell phone jammers jam. The implications are daunting.

This same phone number and post office box was also identified back in 2009 as hosting Taliban-related websites. All the more reason to investigate these creeps.

What's interesting is that the phone number has a Washington, DC area code. Are we really to believe that in 2013, these criminals are still operational because folks in the nation's capital can't get their act together? The FBI is in charge of cyber crime, and yet they can't find these people who are not only stealing e-books, but heaven knows what else? Wow. Maybe it's a job for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Who knows. We may actually be talking about hackers working for a foreign government. In any case, somebody ought to get busy shutting these phonies down before they siphon all the profits out of legitimate authors' pockets.

Maybe it's time for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all the other e-book digital retailers to step forward and start making their voices heard. After all, if my books and those of other authors are being stolen by a sophisticated organized crime syndicate, that's not only money that I'm not receiving to put food on the table, but also money lost by companies.

And for those of you who think providing stolen digital works is harmless, let me remind you of the hidden dangers of downloading these files. How do you know that this entity hasn't attached malware to my e-book you got for free? How do you know that your computer isn't going to provide the bad guys with your personal information? These digital criminals could be utilizing your financial data, your Facebook account, your Twitter account.... The list goes on.

More importantly, there is a very real concern that these digital criminals are utilizing the Internet to plan and execute very real terror attacks. Whether they are hiding behind your identity while moving online or utilizing your computer to launch a cyber attack, you may never know the extent to which you were compromised. Just think for a moment. While you're sleeping, what's your computer doing? These days, it's not hard to remotely activate a computer and use it to crash a government website. It's not that hard to do a Denial-of-Service attack on a company like Amazon or Google. The fact is that we are all made vulnerable when criminals like this, who appear to be doing harmless stuff, get a foothold in our lives.

Consider this a wake-up call, America. When companies continue to report losses over digital e-book sales, when the bottom drops out of the e-book market, maybe the FBI will make its move and shut these creeps down. Of course, by then it will be too late, won't it? The bad guys will have succeeded in ripping off American authors, American digital retailers, and most of all, American readers. I don't know about you, but where I come from, that's a problem that should be cut off at the knees, before we're all compromised. It's not brain surgery. It's National Security 101.

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