scams consumers promoting hardbacks but selling ebooks

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With Christmas coming and Black Friday looming fast, it’s worth pointing out that there are more scam sites than ever on the Internet with fraudsters ever willing to steal your money. One site in particular has caught our attention as it is named similarly to a reputable site, purports to sell books, but once you purchase you’ll only get an ebook (if you are lucky). The name of this site –

My brother got scammed by this site, only for £14.90, and you might easily look at the site and think what a muppet. The site is particularly amateurish but with my nephew’s birthday coming up it was something he wanted to buy as an additional gift. The thing is however, it’s not just the site itself which fooled him – Google need to shoulder a proportion of the blame. Do a Google search and they are promoting through a sponsored ad and in that sponsored ad it clearly states that the format is a ‘Hardback’ book. We all think we can trust Google don’t we?

Google are promoting bookword scam site

It’s only if you dig into the terms and conditions of the site and get as far as the 8th section that you discover the phrase ‘We selling only digital products. Instant delivery to client email after purchase.’ Hidden away on a contact page (not linked from anywhere else on the site) is a mobile telephone number which is out of service and an address in Maida Vale London which is probably fake as well – hard to imagine someone in a £7 million house being bothered to set up a scam like this.

It’s too easy for scammers to set up a website with your personal details hidden behind an anonymous domain name registration service and then simply pay Google to promote their site. The problem is that we all trust Google to display legitimate results but Google are taking’s money with what appears to be no checks.

Having been scammed, hindsight is a wonderful thing and visiting the Trustpilot rating reveals that since buying their domain in July this year, in just two short months have gathered 138 reviews 135 of which are one star, 2 are two star and 1 is three star (from someone who edited their review after being refunded). I have honestly never seen such an appalling Trustpilot rating before.

Whilst other rating sites are available, if you’re about to make a purchase in the run up to Christmas and it’s not on a marketplace or a website you’ve used before and trust, check out their reviews on Trustpilot. The site doesn’t have to sign up to Trustpilot to garner reviews and you can be pretty certain that if a number of people have been ripped off in the past that at least some will have left a review online.

Having paid £14.90 for non existent books (and to date not having even received an ebook which he doesn’t want) it brings into question the entire site. If someone is willing to be so duplicitous as to scam consumers in this manner it’s fair to ask if they are paying the publisher for the rights to distribute the ebooks in the first place. We asked Puffin if they had rights to sell their publications in ebook format and are waiting for a reply.

Moral of the story is that when you start doing your Christmas shopping, don’t trust what you see on search engines. Feel free to distrust every advert that you see on Google until you verify the companies are legitimate. It could be the next scammer paying to rip you off so check out the site and see what previous customers had to say on Trustpilot and other ratings sites before you part any money.

We would like to point out that the scam site is in no way connected with the excellent blog

10 Responses

  1. Not good, the internet is still very much the wild west in many areas, especially re: advertising. Hope you brother should be able to do a chargeback if paid via credit card or paypal?

  2. I think the moral of the story is use a bit of common sense! I wouldn’t have touched that site with a bargepole – I couldn’t find a search, the T&Cs are in poor English, and there is no mention of postage costs (one of the first things I look at on a site I haven’t used before).

  3. It Amazes me how much dodgy sites, there are these day, it isn’t good enough for the internet giants to just take take advertising revenue and wash your hands of what you putting infront of people. Every time I look on yahoo financial, ever third story, is a fake story about making money from trading Bitcoins, apparent even Prince Harry and Elton John , have cashed in there fortunes and double there wealth, in last three months from this schemes, on a news site that looks like the BBC. I just think how incredibly lucky we are to live in a world where these selfless people have found a fool proof way to make money and instead of just going away and quitely amassing a fortune, they wish to share it everyone else. The internet needs regulating like anything else, if a national newspaper advertised these sorts of scam they would be fined, the internet giants are happy to take the cash, but not the responsiabilty for there actions (including paying a fair amount of tax, which is a different issue granted).

  4. Oh dear looks like I have been scammed too
    I can’t believe I fell for it as I normally would research any new sight I’ve not used before!
    I ordered a box set of books for my son and once I’d paid I was then told it was only a digital download
    I’ve asked for a refund, raising the issue that I’d been misled but they won’t give me my money back. I feel this is definitely not UK has emails only arrive in the middle of the night! Not happy at all

  5. I have just been scammed too and I am usually careful when I buy on-line. However, this site looks and feels like a proper book seller and I was guided there by Google endorsement. It really is a top scam and the extremely clever perpetrators will probably make a fortune out of mugs like me.

    I was led there by Google who promote Bookword ads, and give Bookword a level of credibility they should not have. So I totally agree that Google should be doing more to prevent these scammers looking bona-fide. Google – you are part of the problem!

  6. After contacting Which magazine, I sent the correspondence below to and I received a refund right away:

    You have a contract for goods and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 requires a business not to act below the standard of good faith and provide any misleading acts or omissions relating to the product therefore if they stated that the books would be hardback even through google as their agent when they are ebooks this would allow you to undo the contract within 90 days of placing the order and refund your money. If you are beyond this period of time you can claim your damages which would be the refund or the cost of obtaining hardback books in the order placed.

    Also if you did not have the opportunity to read the terms and conditions or that the small print was not prominent and transparent as for Chris Dawson this can amount to an unfair term under section 62 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which would mean that the term was deleted from the contract.

    It would be advisable to make a written complaint to referring to the above and ask them to refund your money or pay for the cost of the hardback books from another company.

    Thank you for sharing your experience for other Which members, Which?Legal is separate from the magazine part of the business but I will pass on your details for their editors to consider. You can also report the business to trading standards and

    If you require any further advice or clarification or if any other issues arise, please return to us and we will be happy to assist you further.


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