Cyberthief

Last Friday, someone hacked my gmail account, and then proceeded to hack into all my other accounts. Before Friday, I never used 2 steps authentication. I don’t use a cellphone. I gave my last one to my daughter because I never learned to use a touchscreen, and because as an agoraphobic, I rarely leave the house. When I do, because I’m also blind, I never go alone. If someone wants to call me, they do it through messenger or the landline.

As a person striving to be as independent as I can with limited parameters, sending codes to verify it was me was never a logical step, not when I’d need someone to read me the code, and especially if that someone wasn’t available.

I’d thought separating the email for amazon and the one I use to purchase things from my everyday life was enough to protect myself. That, and the fact I’m a tiny fish in the sea. No not even that – I’m but a grain of sand in the bottom of the ocean.

I didn’t know that when google asked “save this password” that it was hoarding all my passwords into gmail, and that if someone accessed that, they could access all. I thought it only kept it saved on the laptop.

I was so, so wrong.

My brother was able to secure my gmail account, but I lost the fb – both the personal and the author page – and my amazon.

The hacker wasn’t able to steal any money. When he tried buying himself a $25 gift certificate, amazon paused the purchase, suspended my account, and my bank blocked my card because I never bought a gift certificate, and because I’m not in the location where it was issued from.

Yesterday, after spending days trying to recover my accounts, my brother told me that my fb account was gone, that he couldn’t recover it because not only was the password changed, but the email as well, along with the ads manager email for my author page.

I filled amazon’s form to appeal the account suspension, and last night received an email saying that they’re closing my account. They wrote:

“After a review of your details, we have determined it is necessary to close your Amazon.com account. Any pending orders have been canceled.

We may not reply to further emails about this issue.”

They said nothing more, gave no other explanation. Simply signed as

“Account Specialist”

When I tried replying, I got an automated response saying I’ve “written to an account that does not accept incoming e-mails.” It was one of those no-reply emails businesses use to reply to you but that you can’t reply back.

Without an amazon account, I can’t contact amazon or KDP support again.

I don’t know what to do.

My next series is coming out nicely. I’ve finished the first and second book, ordered their covers, finished drafting the third, and am at the end of the fourth. I was planning to release book 1 at the end of September, with the rest following a month apart from the other. But my KDP account is gone.

I cried a lot, because I’m sad, but more because I’m angry.

I’ve been banging my head figuring out how to use amazon for years, always settling for less because not all of their features are accessible to the blind or because I’m not in a “preferred country”. But now, I can’t even settle for less because they won’t allow me that.

Ever see the saying “we look forward to inquiries from marginalized groups, disabled people, lgbtq” and so on? It’s just a propaganda that is thrown out there. When I told Bookbub that their page isn’t accessible to the blind, they told me they were sorry but they didn’t have the bandwidth to upgrade. When I reached out to an agent whose submission guidelines said “except for marginalized groups” they weren’t taking queries, I got an automated response saying that they wouldn’t be taking queries regardless that I followed their instructions. And when I finally did find an agent that did, their “submission form” wasn’t accessible.

I’m trying to look forward. I wrote a bit yesterday and today, tried creating a new fb account (and failed, because apparently they’ve upgraded to non-accessible forms), but everything feels tainted somehow. I didn’t just lose my accounts, I lost years of memories and friendship on facebook, and the possibility of success that amazon offers. I’m realistic enough, and have the experience to know that simply uploading a book to amazon doesn’t mean success, but the hope was there.

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68 Replies to “Cyberthief”

  1. I am so sorry you had to go through this, Jina.
    Two step authentication works well and is quite safe.
    Your fans will always be there for you. So please don’t worry about KDP or amazon. Sending you hugs ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Rekha.
      My fans weren’t many, a few hundreds, but my author page was linked to my fb, and that too is gone. They have no way of knowing about new releases, unless they go searching for it.
      And this reminds me that I’ll have to edit all the backmatter in my books too. Sigh.

      Like

    1. This is incredibly frustrating, Jina. I’m so sorry! I was inches away from buying From Flame to Ruin on Amazon. It’s still listed for sale, but if your account is closed, you won’t get the funds, your book sale won’t register, and I won’t get to read your book. Is there someplace I can go to get any of your books that still has your account open?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks, Priscila. My fantasy books are with a publisher, so they didn’t get affected. I don’t know what will happen to the one I published, or the royalties I have pending. I delisted from D2D, Kobo, and Publish Drive last month so I could go back to KU, since I had better success with sales there.
        I’ll post updates here as I go.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. For a while, I was too stunned to actually feel anything. But then came the sinking in the pit of my stomach, the realization that I lost something dear to me, the dashing of the accomplishment that was right there at the tip of my fingers. Then the anger, at how people have no consideration at how much damage someone’s petty action can cause, and how far the ripples go.
      Today, I woke up just – resigned.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jina, I am miserable thinking about you being hacked. I wish I could help, but I, too, am terrible at tech stuff. It’s not right that victims are again victimized by the systems. I wish you positive energy and the power to turn this all around. Good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have no words… I was tearing up while reading this post. I hope you’re okay. If I can help out in any way, please do reach out. You’re a fantastic writer and an even better person. Wishing you all the best. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Would relisting with D2D help? You’ll create a new Amazon account, push your books out to that and other marketplaces. If you have a new Amazon/Kindle account, can you then reclaim your books from the closed one?

    What a mess. I have have two-step authentication on everything possible. Every once in a while, I catch someone…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. According to amazon policy, if your account is closed, it means you’re banned. I don’t want to create an account, only to have them shut it again later.
      I didn’t have much success with D2D. They might be good for some, but I don’t know how to successfully market my books. I do have some experience with amazon ads though, and most fantasy authors I know who are making money say more than half of their income is from KU.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hence the reason I’m trying to get hold of them to explain. I don’t believe I broke any of their rules.
        Hopefully, I’ll be able to reach someone who’ll allow me to explain and restore my account.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so sorry this happened to you! First that some horrible person hacked your accounts, and second, that Amazon has treated you so badly. I wish I had advice to give, but all I can say is that I understand your frustration. I hope someone knows how to fix this mess!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ugh! That sucks!
    But when my FB got hacked, I took it as a sign (not that I used it much before that anyway) and completely cut ties.
    Amazon closing your account? Well, that’s just weird. And such a rude reply! If that were to happen to me, I’d probably cut ties with them, too, as I’m not their biggest fan, and try to use it as rarely as possible. But I forgot that many authors depend on it. Yikes!
    “It’s just a propaganda that is thrown out there.” 100%! It’s a clause to keep them from lawsuits and make them look good. It doesn’t actually mean anything.
    I sympathize with you. This must be painful on a few different levels. I hope that the revenue you find brings you even more success!

    Stay golden!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Lulu, like D2D and Publish Drive, would distribute my books around, but as far as I know, they don’t market.
        I’ve tried D2D and PB, but my marketing skills suck.
        But They’re on the list for last resort.
        Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry to hear this, Jina. What a terrible thing to happen and so upsetting that there’s no recourse. That’s one thing that Amazon is really terrible at – offering solutions. I would cry too.

    I don’t know if this will help, but it might be an option: A number of years ago, when I switched from traditional publishing to indie publishing, I set up a new account with my name as publisher and uploaded all my books. I gave Amazon the old asin number and the new one, and they linked them so all my reviews showed up under the new asin. I don’t know if that will work for you, but I don’t see why not. It’s worth a call to kdp to check out. Best of luck, my friend. Hugs.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Gosh, this sounds like an absolute nightmare! 😨 I’m so sorry, Jina! My facebook account was hacked a few years back and it was already a huge hassle, but thankfully, I was able to recover everything fairly quickly. So I can’t even imagine how stressful it must be when multiple accounts that you’ve actually put effort into are affected and it also impacts your career! I really hope things will work out somehow!! 💙

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Jina, I feel your pain. I had all of my personal information stolen. It is still out there in the ether. I feel so helpless against these thieves. I was lucky to have downloaded the first book of Heir of Ashes. You are a great writer. I’m so sorry for all your trouble!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, John.
      The Roxanne Fosch trilogy is with a publisher, so it didn’t get affected.
      I’m looking for alternative things I can do that are as effective as Kindle Unlimited without needing to send anything off to publishers.
      🤞

      Like

    1. I’m trying that. Any forum on amazon asks me to log in, and to log in I have to “unsuspend the account” Outside amazon, all forums I find is for seller accounts.
      I’m past sad now, and just frustrated at the system.

      Like

    1. I did!
      Someone on KDP – after a lot of back and forth – suggested if the amazon issue didn’t get resolved, that I should create a new account. I did, and they linked my ratings and reviews to the new account – I lost everything else, but I’m back on track.
      Thanks for dropping by. Hope you have a wonderful week.

      Like

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