Anytime Reviews, or http://www.anytimereviews.com is like a zombie plague for authors; it keeps resurfacing after its death. I’ve said it before, but you will never be cold-called/cold-contacted by a legitimate service or publishing agent/publisher unless you’ve sold a million books (and likely in a single title).
I was BCCed by somebody with the address firstname.lastname@example.org… That’s a suspicious start—not exactly the email address you’d expect from a legitimate book review company. A little internet research on the old google box brought me down the rabbit hole.
Some dude (allegedly) named Rupert M. uses that email address. He sent me this snazzy email.
As of this writing, I am the only guy offering GUARANTEED reviews for Amazon and Goodreads. Under this scheme, if you don’t get a certain number of reviews for your book, you will get a refund from me. If you are looking for more reviews for your book, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Sure you are, Rupert.
Common sense says I should ignore it, right? But I have been accused of sometimes being two nickles short of a penny, so I thought I’d get back to him and ask what his website address is… mainly so I could do a little research and out someone who is violating Amazon’s TOS. Plus spamming. And also being named Rupert (allegedly).
“Rupert” sent me a website masked by a bitly redirect but it brought me to a nonfunctioning website at anytimereviews.com. He was kind enough to include a pdf file while saying “If the above link does not work, try this [link to google drive pdf].” I’m pretty sure old Rupes knew his link would be dead.
It turns out, by simply searching his email address, he was up to this same trick back in 2016, 2017, and also renewed again in 2018 (albeit under a different email address in 2018). I guess he figured 2020 wasn’t bad enough and we needed one more thing to be disgusted by. Enter Rupert.
Our story’s villain used to run a website called votemyreviews.xyz/contact.html and he was peddling the same hot trash back then, too, also mass spammed to author lists and with no way to opt out, unsub, etc (a CANSPAM violation). Of course, it’s important to realize he needs an ARC copy and we’re certain Rupert (or Doug or any of his other monikers) would never upload them to a disreputable pirate site, right? We can trust him. [sarc.]
Rupert and his many aliases have swapped many combinations of websites and email handles while hawking fake review services (and those services likely produce paid generic reviews posted by multiple accounts all owned by whatever basement dwelling Chad has setup this whole ring of irritation.) But he promises, “This is NOT a paid review service; the payment you make is not for reviews (the reviewers don’t paid get a dime) but an administrative cost toward arranging, tracking and reporting for the same. Therefore, my review service is 100% compliant with Amazon’s terms of service.” …just trust the Rupert.
One thing I do know, is that those reviews will get taken down by Amazon’s sophisticated AI/fake review hunter-killer bots. Luckily Rupert heads this off in his short FAQ: “My review got deleted. What’s up?” He promises, “Review sites occasionally delete reviews. I can’t be held responsible for this. Under my guaranteed review service I will help by reposting the review one more time, free of cost!” Which is super cool and shows Amazon that you (the author) insists on continuing to work with paid reviewers thereby increasing the likelihood that you receive a permanent and lifetime ban from Amazon.
But wait! There’s more! He also copies those reviews to Goodreads, so there’s that, too. (BTW, Goodreads is aware of this delinquent activity from his previous years of “Ruperting.” In fact, our mysterious “Rupert” also goes by a number of other email addresses that can be discovered with a few clicks of the mouse.
I am guessing he just swaps out an email address and then recycles it later. That may partly be because he requests his payment through paypal. I booked him for his service and he sent me an invoice (that way I can track down more info on him.) Apparently, Rupert likes his Rupees. He requested to be paid in INR which means he’s likely from India. The payment came from his company called Verge Soft Inc. They can be found at http://www.verge-soft.com/ but don’t bother… it says literaly nothing except contact us at webmaster AT verge-soft.com. I find it ironic he wrote it that way so as to avoid being spammed. Oh, Rupert. If you’d like to spam him, his email address is email@example.com and he is most certainly in India (according to his digital footprint and requests at an activity in Mumbai.)
Peeling beneath the hood of their WHOIS data we can find that the owner of the domain registered it from P.O. Box 0823-03411 in Panama, Panama. Searching out that address turns up data about an interconnected scheme involving everything from travel fraud, to website scraping and URL reselling scams, and one of the largest bulk spam services in the UK. They have also been linked to malware schemes and possible ransomware with an investment phishing program to round it out with some blatant, good old fashioned thievery.
Rupert and the search for 25,000 Rupies has turned into a dark tale of loss and woe. I fear this tangled web of deceit and malfeasance might spiderweb off into so many directions that it would take ages to uncover and would likely end up with my children kidnapped and my dog murdered.
Hopefully you get the point, though: legitimate services don’t buy lists of authors collected by spambots so they can try to earn a few bucks off them in bulk.
Yes. Reviews are worth begging. They are a critical factor in your marketing endeavors. But you can’t take a shortcut to get them. Not only are you risking a permaban from amazon by using them, but people all around the world can target you for further criminal action or even steal your identity (including your book) for future tomfoolery and jackassery. Don’t take a shortcut. It can cost you dearly in the end.