Online Scammers Phish for Potter Fans
By James Wray Jan 11, 2005, 17:08 GMT
Fraudsters targeted fans eager to read the contents of the forthcoming Harry Potter book
Reports of the site first appeared on the Harry Potter Fan site The Leaky Cauldron, where users sent emails to staff warning about the scam. Staff then went to the site themselves and sent through some orders to see what would happen.
Heidi Tandy, an editor at the site, told M&C: "I didn't get anything back from them, even though I used a card that was well under its limit and far from its expiration date. At this point, there haven't been any charges on my card."
The fraudulent site did send an email to another member of staff saying they hadn't been able to charge her card yet.
The Cauldron received over two-dozen emails from fans who had stumbled on the, what is sometimes called, phishing site. Phishing is when Web sites pretend to be established companies in order to corral users into giving out credit card details or passwords.
Heidi went on to say that there is "probably is more of a risk for Potter books, because of the intense secrecy regarding the book's contents, but I wouldn't be surprised if these sorts of phishing operations
existed for other authors' e-books, too."
Meantime the BBC picked up the story and contacted the publishers. A representative of J.K. Rowling's agency confirmed that no legitimate electronic versions of any Potter books exist.
The publishers obviously took action as the offending site has since been shutdown, though no doubt not before several people had been scammed.
It is still unclear whether the site operated a Spam mailing to attract visitors or whether they found the site via a search engine.
"Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will be published July 16. Further details and related news in our database.
You can visit The Leaky Cauldron for lots more Harry Potter news and information.