Call it Scamazon redux.
In Spring 2010, a couple of years before her death, my mother's memoir was published. At the time my research caught a Clearwater, Florida press agent posting dozens of glowing 5-star shill reviews on Amazon.com for my mother's book and scores of other authors she represented.
That turned into Scamazon, a three-part story published by the (now-defunct) Cincinnati Beacon (Part I, Part II, Part III) that was picked up by other media outlets in the US (click here, here, and here) and France (click here). The Clearwater publicist's Amazon account was deleted and the Public Relations Society of America issued a two-page ethics statement.
Four years later, an unrelated New York publicist representing my father's recently-published memoir just admitted to writing this:
The Amazon profile of "Avid NY Reader" includes 17 other glowing five-star book reviews.
Via Internet searches, I connected Lori Ames, the Long Island publicist representing my father's book, to all of the reviews.
Yesterday I e-mailed her and simply asked if she knew anything about "Avid NY Reader." (I copied Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako who four years ago dealt with the Clearwater publicist's shill reviews.)
Here's her same-day reply:
From: Lori Ames <firstname.lastname@example.org>Here's a screenshot of her bio from a previous job:
To: Peter Heimlich <email@example.com>
Cc: Mary Osako
Subject: Re: media inquiry re: Amazon reviewer "Avid NY Reader"
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2014 15:04:55 -0400
As you have already surmised, I am Avid NY Reader.
In the last 7 years I have posted 20 reviews on Amazon. 17 for books by clients or people I know (which averages out to 2.5 reviews a year; a very small percentage of books to which I have any connection). 3 for books or products I've purchased. I have also purchased thousands of dollars of merchandise through Amazon for my home and my business for which have not posted reviews.
I have always tried to be responsive and professional regarding your inquiries. If you are going to publicly take me to task for posting a review about your father's book, then you needn't direct any additional queries to my attention.
Hope all is well with you and Karen.
141 John Street, Suite 200
Babylon, NY 11702
I'll ask Amazon to comment and will report the results.