Amazon this week announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against some 20 individuals scamming authors by falsely claiming an affiliation with Amazon Publishing and Kindle Direct Publishing. According to the suit, the scammers run fake Amazon knockoff websites designed to lure would-be authors into paying a fee to publish, and then deliver either substandard or no service at all.

“Defendants use the Amazon Marks in their domain names and on their websites to divert victims from Amazon’s genuine websites to Defendants’ websites that purport to offer services to help authors create, edit, and publish their works through [Amazon Publishing or Kindle Direct Publishing],” the suit states, adding that, “to further the ruse of affiliation with Amazon” the websites often have chat boxes or advertise phone numbers to call that provide “false and misleading representations of affiliation with Amazon.”

The suit includes details of unnamed authors who were taken in by the scams, including one who visited one of the defendant sites thinking she was accessing Amazon’s legitimate self-publishing services. The authors “corresponded with Defendants or their agents, who not only claimed to be Amazon representatives, but sent documents making further uses of the Amazon Marks,” the complaint states. “Believing she was working with Amazon, [the author] paid Defendants $4,000.00 for purported editorial and publication services.” The woman learned she was scammed after the service failed to materialize.

“We have a consistent track record of working to stop bad actors from taking advantage of our customers, and this lawsuit against publishing scammers continues that work on behalf of authors,” said David Naggar, vice president of Books and Kindle Content at Amazon, in an October 30 statement. In the statement, Amazon pledges to continue to “protect authors from fraudsters who attempt to take advantage of them” and to make sure “no authors or publishers are further harmed by their actions.”

The suit seeks injunctive relief shutting down the fraudulent sites as well as damages.