Yesterday, I posted another victim letter from an author who was being conned by an online thief.
TODAY, MY REPLY – and steps YOU can take to protect yourself.
Pardon my excessive carefulness in my wording here because I assume you’ll want to share this with your other author friends, so I want to be as truthful and accurate as possible.
First, Wid Bastian served 10+ years in prison for embezzling clients and stealing from them.
It is my belief, based on countless testimonials at this point, that he is doing the same thing again as we speak.
The way a ponzi scheme works is, the initial investors get paid through the funds the later investors put in, so it looks legit for a while and the returns are goods. The ponzi schemer typically spends the money on a lavish lifestyle.
If YOU give access to your Amazon account to anyone, that person has access to your bank information, credit cards and social security number, among other things
(it may be different in other countries.) According to someone purporting to be Wid’s ex-wife, Wid has done identity theft, so giving a person like that access to your bank account and social security number is extremely risky. If you or your author friends did that, here is what I would recommend – and I am not a lawyer.
At my financial institution, it took under an hour to close an account and open a new one, transferring the money.
It took about fifteen minutes to reset the online place that deposited to the old account.
Not hard to do, but it severs any possibility of misuse by a scammer you gave access to.
Convicted felon Wid Bastian is currently seeking federal bankruptcy protection in Utah. He created a letter attempting to explain away what landed him in prison and how he has “helped hundreds of authors,” but that letter is filled with lies and misrepresentations.
- My sources say Wid Bastian was escorted out of Merrill Lynch after being fired and then was imprisoned for embezzlement.
- He was ordered to pay $3 million in restitution not because the market went south but because a
- Federal jury system found him guilty of a dozen counts of fraud, wire fraud, embezzlement, etc.
He was wanted by the FBI because he fled, not because making a wanted poster is standard procedure!
Why does a marketer need access to your account? They will give lots of reasons but they DO NOT need access to your account.
Why would a marketer need your original manuscripts? If you sign away or give away your manuscript, or allow someone to steal it, you may open yourself to piracy but also may allow them to post it as theirs and they may gain your ongoing revenue through page reads and units sold, etc.
You can see sales reports on Amazon; convicted felon Wid Bastian required access to manuscripts and sent reports that he created.
A screen shot of an Amazon sales report takes ten seconds and make and post. I believe by forcing clients/victims to operate this way, he intentionally misrepresented things to them.
K-Boards, The author’s information exchange
K-Boards conversations with very reputable authors about convicted felon Wid Bastian, indicated they believed:
convicted felon Wid Bastian was violating Amazon’s terms of service,
possibly had utilized click farms to generate fake interest in a client’s book, and
employed review manufacturers to post fake reviews.
(Convicted felon Wid Bastian actually attempted to defend his actions in K-Boards but the veteran authors know their stuff and he stopped attempting to reply.)
One can easily see if:
1. The sales reports come from the scammer
2. The book royalty money comes from scammer
3. The scammer uses hundreds of purchased, fake reviews to pile up on Amazon AND sends a check making it appear that the book is doing well as a result, THEN:
4. The client is happy and refers everyone.
Is that PONZI SCHEME 101???
WHY CAN’T THE AUTHOR GET THE CHECK FROM AMAZON?
BECAUSE IT’S REALLY FROM OTHER AUTHORS’ FEES?
Convicted felon Wid Bastian appeared to get results. Part of that may be explained by the above. It is impossible to know because
as of today despite repeated requests, convicted felon Wid Bastian has never shown one receipt from a 3rd party for expenses he allegedly incurred in marketing
the box set he did for me and 17 other authors, the other 6 or so box sets we are aware of, and none of the clients he took money from who have contacted me.
Let me say that again:
To my knowledge, NO client/victim of Wid Bastian’s who has contacted me has EVER been shown a receipt for any ads, newsletters, or other services Wid allegedly did on their behalf.
On the other hand, MANY have said he took money and didn’t do the work.
In my case, 17 authors paid a $750 fee to join a box set that convicted felon Wid Bastian was to market for us (BTW, we aren’t certain he did anything at all except steal our money). I knew a successful person in the set, so I thought as you might – if person X uses Wid, Wid must be okay. The $750 was to cover ALL expenses. We then engaged charities for whom the proceeds from pre-sales would go if they mentioned us in their newsletters to their donors. Many charities have hundreds of thousands of donors, so pre-sales were good and post-release sales volume was high.
Our set generated about $20,000 in royalties but we were told the set lost money after expenses,
and one person was given an email that said Wid’s salary and his partners salaries exceeded the cost of the set.
Now, those expenses were to be paid from the $750 fee. Wid had the checks from Amazon sent to him, so:
The authors never got a cent
The charities never got a cent
Wid immediately declared bankruptcy – that means you can’t go after him for your money he owes you, BUT if fraud occurred, bankruptcy doesn’t protect that – so we’ll see.
To my knowledge,
no box set Wid has ever done made money
because his expenses were higher than the revenues every time, and then he filed bankruptcy.
To my knowledge,
MANY authors have paid Wid $2000 and sometimes $10,000 to turn a book into a screenplay, or market their book, etc – but the work never got done.
Since people are trusting and optimistic, it’s hard for them to see a predator who, from day one, only sees them as a dollar amount, but sociopaths are that way. They feel nothing for your pain and humiliation after they steal from you. They needed to eat. Or drive a Mercedes. Or take a vacation to Africa.
Why should a scammer work a regular job when taking your money in exchange for a few promises is much easier?
Why take a 15% commission on $10,000 when you can take the whole $10,000?
Federal prison for embezzlement and fraud, that’s one reason.
But some people never learn. Well, I’m trying to help them learn a little.
At the end of the day, I am relating what I know to be the truth about a con artist. Convicted felon Wid Bastian will have “explanations” for all of it, but no verified documentation to back any of it up. I make no money from saying what I’m saying; Wid is alleged to be taking money from people as we speak.
Why, then, would I do this?
Because I believe the federal prison process got it right. I believe Wid Bastian is a con artist who is actively preying on people right now, and for evil to triumph good people must do nothing.