As I prepare to launch my fifth historical crime novel on the world (you can read all about it here), I see that those dastardly money launderers have found a way to do their stuff via Amazon. Well, why not – it’s the world’s favourite marketplace, after all. Here’s how it works.
The criminal uses the Amazon self-publishing service to produce a book. It matters little what the book is called, and when potential readers click to “Look Inside” they will see only computer-generated text – gobbledegook, if you will. What matters is that the book’s price is substantial – tens or hundreds of dollars. No-one in their right – i.e. non-criminal – mind would buy such a book, but the money launderer does, using stolen credit card details to make his purchases. As the publisher of the book, he is eventually sent his royalties for the sales – about 60% of the purchase price, at the highest end of the scale. And if his bank asks where his money is from, it comes as a legitimate bank transfer or cheque from Amazon.
For instance, have a look at the prodigious output on Amazon of one Latha Shilvanth… She’s written on all sorts of topics, from healthy living to corporate logos, from data analysis to writing plays and poetry, from computer programming to maintaining an everlasting relationship. And they’re selling for thousands. Quite why I’ve gone to all this trouble of actually writing these five books, I cannot imagine – there are obviously far easier ways to make money from self-publishing.