Saturday, May 5, 2012

Scam I Am!

Bright and early this morning I woke up and decided to review 50 Delicious Meatloaf Recipes free today at Amazon.  When I opened the book, the very first thing that I saw was this:

This is the first page inside the cover of "50 Delicious Meatloaf Recipes"

Not unsurprisingly, the recipes are all scraped up from the internet, often from very reputable sources.  Unfortunately, they have all been fiddled with.  That is the least of the problems with this book, however.

If you visit the URL given in the book, this is the page that will greet you:

I cut off the bottom of this screen shot to make it fit on the page.  Notice that I have a tab open to their Contact Us page.  Also notice that they will give you five extra recipes if only you will give them your real name and your email - and of course they are careful to note that your information is 100% secure with them.  (Remember, the people guaranteeing the security of your information are the same people who lifted recipes from Martha Stewart, About:  Southern Cooking and Pace Picante Sauce, among others . . .  what is that Mama used to say about actions speaking louder than words    . . . .  or was it pretty is as pretty does . . .  )

Let's have a look at that Contact Us page -

Notice here that this is from the same URL as inside the book - I've circled the name in red up there in the URL bar.  Also notice that this is just an empty form "Contact Us" page copied from source on the internet.  They have not even bothered to fill in the name of their business - see all those places I've circled [business name].  There is no name, no business name, no address, no phone number, not even an email address!  Just exactly HOW are we supposed to contact them?!

There is one thing about owning a domain name that not everyone knows.  The registration information reveals who owns the domain, where the server is located and much more.  You cannot entirely hide.  You  search for this kind of information by running a WHOIS search at networksolutions.  This is the WHOIS page for imeatloafrecipe -

Notice that I've circled the domain name up at the top of the WHOIS  data.  Clearly, this is the information for the right domain.  So, what does this tell us?  On April 24, 2012, someone named Adrien Kwong from Hong Kong registered this domain name.  (That was just 11 days ago, mind you!) Note that there is no address other than Hong Kong.  According to data from the World Bank, in 2010 Hong Kong had a population of 7, 067, 800.  Typing "Adrien Kwong Hong Kong" into Google  brings up 1, 720 ,000 results.  Something tells me he isn't going to be all that easy to find . . .  

So, What's The Big Deal?

Simple.  You buy a book at Amazon and follow a link in that book to a page where you enter your real name (almost everyone does) and a valid email address so you can get these "recipes."  From that information - your name, your real email and the fact that you got the book on Amazon, any scam artist can access your Amazon profile - after they sell your verified email address to spammers, usually repeatedly.

Go look at someone's Amazon profile - not your own, you won't see what everyone else sees.  You will notice that most people give a location - and a Wish List.  Click on that Wish List to see the shipping address associated with the list.  Now our friendly local scammer has your real name, your valid email address, and  your real physical address.  Ten minutes or so with a computer will bring up the name of your spouse, your dog, your kids, your family, your facebook page, often where you work, your wedding anniversary and much, much more.  

This is exactly why people who know internet security recommend that you NEVER use any of those things as your password.  Somebody with access to all of that can quite easily hack your accounts - your email, Amazon, eBay and so forth.  They can steal your credit card data.  More importantly, with access to all of that, they can literally steal your life!

What Can You Do?

First, never give your name and email address to a website or individual that you do not know and trust.    Most especially don't give out that information in connection with a purchase you made at Amazon or some similar site.  If it was SAFE for authors and publishers to have the individual names and addresses of all of their buyers Amazon would already make those available!

Second, change your password!  At least 8 Upper and lowercase characters, numbers or symbols - a minimum of one from each category.  No proper names, dates that mean anything to you (anniversary, birthday, dog's birthday), no names of your parents or kids, no word you might find in the dictionary! 

Third, take a look at the information you make available about yourself on  your profile page(s).  You might want to reconsider some of that.

Finally, if you found this information helpful to you,  I would ask you to visit my review (linked above) and answer the survey question you'll find at the bottom in order to keep that review in the public eye.  Scammers tend to make every attempt to bury reviews that expose them.  You will also find these illustrations directly under the illustration for this book on the main book page. You can "vote" on illustrations too.


  1. Grandma, I would never dream of getting a cookbook without asking for your insight first! Your reviews are always so helpful. Many thanks for all you do! VPK in Northern Virgina

    1. VPK, thanks - but I hope I also help people to learn what to look for. I can't review them all, unfortunately.

  2. David W. CowlesMay 5, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Great detective work, Grandma!

    Methinks the "50 Delicious" books may be spawning. You might want to check these out:

    50 Delicious Breakfast Recipes
    50 Delicious Appetizer Recipes
    50 Delicious Lunch Recipes
    50 Delicious Main Course Recipes
    50 Scrumptious Breakfast Recipes
    50 Scrumptious Appetizer Recipes
    50 Scrumptious Lunch Recipes
    50 Scrumptious Dinner Recipes
    50 Scrumptious Super Snack Recipes
    50 Scrumptious Chili, Soup, and Stew Recipes

    Are any of these the real McCoy? Has the Hong Kong Meat Loaf guy simply copied the format of the other cookbooks? Or are they all cut-and-paste scams?

    Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of Night of the Clone Cookbooks!

    1. Every one of these is a cut-and-paste David. I do not know if every one of them has the "give me your email address" domain name trick going. Are they all the same guy? Who knows. . . well over 90% of these "cookbook authors" use a pseudonym, some so outrageous and apparent it is ludicrous. I reviewed a barbecue cookbook a few days ago from somebody named Kingsford HAHAHA . . . and then there is Rachel Gray . . . you know who that is supposed to bring to mind, right?

  3. Grandma, this took alot of work. Thank you for your determination against these crooks. I will be changing my password thanks to you and this blog :}

    1. Hi MoME - Thanks so much for stopping by! This actually wasn't too terribly much work. You can always look up a domain name you think might be iffy yourself, right at networksolutions -

      I can't think of anything harder than to prove you are you after someone else has decided to prove they are you instead. Surf safe - and do feel free to drop me a line any time!