From The Washington Post:
Dagny Taggart spends her time traveling the globe, meeting new people and learning new things. She speaks more than 15 languages, including Latin, Russian and Chinese. In the past year, she has written a new book at the rate of about one every five days: 84 books in total. All of them have gotten glowing reviews from her hordes of Amazon groupies, who leave 5-star reviews on everything she does.
There’s only one problem with Dagny Taggart — she doesn’t exist. Evidence collected and examined by The Washington Post suggests that Taggart (who is named for a character in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”) is a made-up identity used by an Argentine man named Alexis Pablo Marrocco. Marrocco, meanwhile — and other self-described “Kindle entrepreneurs” like him — form part of a growing industry of “Amazon catfish.”
The catfishing process varies according to the specific “entrepreneur” using it, but it typically follows the same general steps: After hiring a remote worker to write an e-book for the Kindle marketplace, Amazon’s e-book store, publishers put it up for sale under the name and bio of a fictional expert. Frequently, Kindle entrepreneurs will then buy or trade for good book reviews. (Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, also owns The Washington Post.)
. . . .
“Making money with Kindle is by far the easiest and fastest way to get started making money on the Internet today,” enthuses one video that promises to guide viewers to riches. “You don’t even need to write the books yourself!”
. . . .
When questioned about Taggart, Marrocco staunchly defends himself from any accusations of wrongdoing.
“I act and have always acted according to Amazon’s policies and rules, rules which prohibit the acquisition of biased or dishonest reviews,” he said. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a pen name for a book, or a book series. There is absolutely nothing wrong and unlawful about using a pen name … The key is always to provide value to the marketplace.”
Link to the rest at The Washington Post and thanks to Shelley for the tip