The Next Nigerian Lottery?!

We all have to start somewhere. And when you do your name is barely noticeable on a book cover. But as your books become more popular your name gets bigger and eventually its your name that sells attracts the reader to the book.

Case and point: I don’t even know what the latest title is by Bella Andre. But its everywhere!

To an author “Your Name” is everything. Its your brand. A side from your novels your name is how your readers perceive you. So you try to do anything to protect your “Brand” as you grow your author platform.

Last week! I received a concerning email. An urgent email from China informing me that a company wanted to register my brand name as their own and register domain names. They’d carried out a search and discovered I was using this brand name and had I authorized the use of my brand to the company. I have 7 working days to reply.

The first thing I did was turn to big brother Google. I looked up this company wanting to use my brand. Google threw up nothing. Not even an address and telephone number. I thought this was odd. So I turned to the company contacting me. They had a website with some high profile clients. However their website doesn’t work properly and to me what their email claims they do compared to what the website claims they do it doesn’t tie up. I’m suspicious. But the email looks official so if its a scam then these people know what they’re doing. They’re pretty sophisticated. So I emailed them back on Friday and advised I hadn’t authorized the use of my brand.

I received a reply today. Now my spider senses started tingling. The poorly written English, says they’ve already started the process because I was late replying and they’ve gone into their default phase to register the brand and if I wanted to protect my brand I had to tell them immediately.

I replied informing them I’d replied within the 7 working days and would seek further advice. I got on to the IWU Facebook group, I’m not overly active here, between my crazy uni, work and writing triple life I don’t have time to be active in every group I’m a member of. But the other writers here are wonderfully helpful and better than any encyclopedia you’d find anywhere and instantly they were screaming scam!

One person suggested to contact the FBI.gov to report the cyber crime. (http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/) But because both parties are outside the US I can’t. I did however report them to the UK action force as a fraud attempt. (www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud)

A friend suggested I should protect my brand by registering the domain name myself. Of course, once you own the domain name if they want it they have to buy it from you, which could be their game. To register the .com domain name and then try to sell it back to me for some exorbitant price. So now I’ve beat them to it.

I guess my instincts are not off base. I knew something was fishy about this email. I don’t talk openly about the fact that Erin Cawood is a pen name. That I use it because there are too many questionable characters out there and when you live most of your professional life online, without the benefit of all five senses you never really know if what your getting is real, you have to feel as though you can protect you personal life from the immoral antics of others.

But when you spend so much time and effort building a reputation and a brand, in my case, years before I released my first novel Of course you become protective of it, and there’s a little part of me that wonders what if its genuine? How do I protect my brand in future? If it wasn’t for my friends and acquaintances in the IWU, people in the online writing community all around me this could have been the equivalent to winning the Nigerian Lottery!

Apparently, I’m not the first to receive this email so I definitely won’t be the last which means there are the same dangers out there for us as writers as there are for any other web user. I have no doubt the next step – had I have said yes I want to protect my brand – would be to hand over all of my personal details as well as my bank details!!! So I’ve shared the correspondence between myself and the company. Here’s my warning.

Be vigilant my friends and I urge you to spread the word.

Erin

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

From: “SZ
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2013 20:28:55 +0800
To: erin<erin@erincawood.co.uk>
Cc: info<info@pecnetwork.org>
Subject: Re: Re: Re: URGENT:”erincawood” Brand Name and domain name registration

Dear Erin Cawood,


Because your late reply, we defaulted that you had authorized,we are preparing for the registeration of that company now.If you want to register and protect those domain names,please let me know in time.



Best Regards,

SZ

Regional Manager

AnHui Office:
Phone: +86-551 XXXX
XXXX
    Fax: +86-551 XXXX XXXX
Postal Code:23XXXX
—————————————————————————————————————————

—– Original Message —–

From: erin
To: SZ
Date: 2013-03-25, 19:18:38
Subject: Re: Re: URGENT:”erincawood” Brand Name and domain name registration
Dear Ms Z,

I believe you asked me to reply within 7 working days and according to the time stamps of the emails I replied within 7 calendar days.

I’m afraid I will have to seek further advice before I can discuss this matter with you.

I will reply as soon as I can.

Kind Regards

Erin Cawood

Sent from my BlackBerry  wireless device

From: “SZ”
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 2013 18:46:52 +0800
To: Erin<erin@erincawood.co.uk>
Cc: info<info@pecnetwork.org>
Subject: Re: Re: URGENT:”erincawood” Brand Name and domain name registration

Dear Erin Cawood,


Excuse me,we were at rest last two days,so we reply late.Because your late reply, we defaulted that you had authorized,we are preparing for the registeration of that company now.If you want to register and protect those domain names,please let me know in time.


Brand Name:

Erincawood

Domain Name:
erincawood.com
erincawood.cn
erincawood.com.cn
erincawood.hk
erincawood.net.cn


Best Regards,

SZ


Regional Manager
AnHui Office:
Phone: +86-551 XXXX
XXXX
    Fax: +86-551 XXXX XXXX
Postal Code:23XXXX

—————————————————————————————————————————

—– Original Message —–

From: Erin
To: SZ
Date: 2013-03-22, 22:08:34
Subject: Re: URGENT:”erincawood” Brand Name and domain name registration
Dear Ms Z,
 
Sorry, for the delayed reply.
 
There has not been any approach by any companies to use the “erincawood” brand and therefore I have not authorised their use of my brand name. This matter is of great concern to me as an author I have used the brand name Erin Cawood for many years and have established a reputation with this brand.
 
Kind Regards
 
Erin Cawood

On 15 March 2013 at 08:03 SZ wrote:

(Mail to the brand holder, thanks)
Dear Brand Holder,
We are the department of Asian Domain Registration Service in China. I have something to confirm with you. We formally received an application on March 15, 2013 that a company which self-styled “xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx” were applying to register “erincawood” as their Brand Name and some domain names through our firm.
 
Now we are handling this registration, and after our initial checking, we found the name were similar to your company’s, so we need to check with you whether your company has authorized that company to register these names. If you authorized this, we will finish the registration at once. If you did not authorize, please let us know within 7 workdays, so that we will handle this issue better. Out of the time limit we will unconditionally finish the registration for “FuYun International Co.,Ltd”. Looking forward to your prompt reply.
 
Best Regards,
 

SZ


Regional Manager
AnHui Office:
Phone: +86-551 XXXX
XXXX
    Fax: +86-551 XXXX XXXX
Postal Code:23XXXX

 

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