A book blogger at Bookish Antics took to social media on Monday, January 4, after falling victim to an elaborate email catfishing scheme. A woman posed as a publicist at Penguin Young Readers in what appears to be an attempt to get reviews for her own book, published by an independent press.
Jon at Bookish Antics posted emails that he exchanged recently with a woman using the name Corinne Rosanna Catlin, sent initially from her personal email account and then from what appeared to be a valid Penguin Random House email account, offering ARCs for Jon to read and review. When he received the books, one of the galleys had a sticker from the online bookseller Thriftbooks pasted on it, and another title was a book published by Silvestri Books, written by Christine Catlin. When the blogger tried to locate Christine Catlin online, her Twitter profile matched that of Corinne Rosanna Catlin’s job description. Later, he found, her Twitter account was gone, and Silvestri Books’ website was no longer working, though it was back up on Tuesday afternoon. Her Instagram and LinkedIn accounts have been deleted as well. The GoodReads page for Catlin’s book also shows many recent reviews, about which several fellow bloggers cried foul. Jon said in his blog post that the bloggers “[pointed] out the fact that some of the reviews for her book are likely fakes. Many of the reviewers’ accounts were created 3 weeks ago, most likely with the intention of giving herself a positive review.”
As Jon alerted both Penguin and those on his own social network to the scam, commenters on his blog said that Catlin had also contacted them. One commenter pointed out her results in searching for the author online: on December 14 Catlin had posted on Google’s help forum, asking for her email account to be unfrozen after she had violated the email service provider’s daily sending limit (1,000 emails). Jon posted the full saga on his blog to alert others in the industry of the potential scam, and added that since his post went live yesterday, Catlin has approached him to ask for his phone number to communicate with him.
When asked for a comment, a Penguin representative said, “We are aware of the situation and are looking into it.”