Two Interesting Things About the Internet

Tyler Cowen links today to “52 things I learned in 2018” from Tom Whitwell—which seems like it’s coming a little early in the year, but whatever—so I took a look at it. Some of them I knew, some I didn’t. Here’s one from Marcel Freinbichler written after new European privacy regulations came into effect:

And here’s one from Brian Krebs about those occasional books you see on Amazon that are astronomically priced. I always figured they were artifacts of some kind of algorithm screwup, but apparently it’s more sinister than that, as an author named Patrick Reames found out when he discovered a fake book published under his name:

“Based on what I could see from the ‘sneak peak’ function, the book was nothing more than a computer generated ‘story’ with no structure, chapters or paragraphs — only lines of text with a carriage return after each sentence,” Reames said in an interview with KrebsOnSecurity.

The impersonator priced the book at $555 and it was posted to multiple Amazon sites in different countries….Reames said he suspects someone has been buying the book using stolen credit and/or debit cards, and pocketing the 60 percent that Amazon gives to authors. At $555 a pop, it would only take approximately 70 sales over three months to rack up the [$24,000] that Amazon said he made.

“This book is very unlikely to ever sell on its own, much less sell enough copies in 12 weeks to generate that level of revenue,” Reames said. “As such, I assume it was used for money laundering, in addition to tax fraud/evasion by using my Social Security number. Amazon refuses to issue a corrected 1099 or provide me with any information I can use to determine where or how they were remitting the royalties.”

Internet scams are so inventive.