Most companies to which we assign “Watchdog Advisories” stop short of criminal behavior. They may be negligent, exploitative, or abusive, but they usually stay within the limits of the law.
There are exceptions, of course, such as the spectacular implosion of Tate Publishing and its father-and-son principals, Richard and Ryan Tate. The Tates were arrested in May of 2017, and each charged with three felony counts of attempted extortion, four counts of felony embezzlement, and one count of misdemeanor embezzlement.
High-profile cases like Tate Publishing may eventually be brought to justice, but the smaller operators rarely are. They skate along on a history of aliases, petty crimes, and unenforced warrants, disappearing when the spotlight shines too hot for comfort, and resurfacing in a new guise soon after.
To show how it can happen, and what indie authors need to be look out for, this month's Self-Publishing Watchlist examines one such perennial offender: Korede Abayomi.
Operates: Indie Writers Support, ParaDon Books, ReadersBooks.info, AmazonBookClubs, AuthorsTips.com, WorldsBestSellingBooks.com, BookWebinars.com; Aliases: Celina Marka, Richard Egland, Abby Peace, Bolade Omo Niaja, Faspoken Ase, Artis Reed, Preston Browne, Judd Miller
- Sep. 2011: Abayomi launches ParaDon Books with a flurry of spam and broken English, describing the company as “a new publishing industry co-founded by a newspaper mogul, Richard Egland.” Curious individuals find no trace of Mr. Egland or his glorious career in print media. Similarly, ParaDon's Acquisition Editor Celina Marka and Administrator Judd Miller have no history.
- Nov. 2011: Abayomi contacts the owner of the AbsoluteWrite forum to demand the immediate removal of a post criticizing ParaDon Books. When the owner refuses, Abayomi replies, “If that's the case then you can expect our cyber attack within the next few days if the feed is not deleted.”
- Jan. 2012: Abayomi launches IndieWriterSupport, claiming to have over a dozen employees. The site offers marketing and promotion services, including promotion at supermarkets, a dedicated toll-free number, and a debit card for royalty payments (likely ending in the digits 419). In the coming months, several authors report that these promises never materialized, and that they believed Abayomi pocketed the fees.
- Jun. 2012: A Fiverr account under the name “paradon” is opened. The account information states that the owner is “one of the creators of IndieWriterSupport”. The account is closed by Fiverr after multiple complaints of services not being delivered.
- Oct. 2012: Abayomi launches additional websites to promote each other, including ReaderBooks.info and AmazonBookClubs.com.
- Feb. 2013: An account is opened on LinkedIn under the name Celina Marka. The operator of the account promotes AmazonBookClubs.com and offers vague promotional services in the same flawed English that characterizes all of Abayomi's writing (which seems peculiar given her claims of being a Stanford alumnus with an MFA in editing). “Marka” demands a $20 fee to schedule appointments to discuss the service.
- Jul. 2015: Amazon files a complaint with ICANN over Abayomi's use of the AmazonBookClubs.com domain. Abayomi responds by offering to sell the domain for an undisclosed amount.
- Aug. 2015: The ICANN arbitration panel rules in favor of Amazon, finding that Abayomi registered the domain in bad faith, and refers to “his track record of bad faith registrations (which he did not deny).” The panel orders the AmazonBookClubs.com domain transfered to Amazon's control.
- Sep. 2015: Abayomi's websites begin hawking questionable software under his alias, Judd Miller. This software is later confirmed to be pirated.
- Sep. 2015: Abayomi makes posts on his IndieWriterSupport.com website under his Judd Miller persona, but neglects to change his profile picture. (Oops.)
- Sep. 2015: A member of IndieWriterSupport posts several angry messages accusing Abayomi of taking the author's money without delivering services. The posts are promptly deleted by IWS.
- Oct. 2015: The Better Business Bureau launches an investigation into Abayomi's claims. They find that the business address is registered only to Mr. Abayomi, and that the registered address for the business is actually a 2-star motel in Great Falls, MT. None of ParaDon Books' claims can be verified by the BBB.
- Nov. 2015: The Great Falls Police Department (GFPD) issues an arrest warrant for Korede Abayomi.
- Dec. 2015: The GFPD issues a second warrant for Abayomi's arrest.
- Jan. 2016: Abayomi pokes the wrong bear when he steals David Gaughran's work and uses it to sell pirated software.
- Jan. 2016: The GFPD issues a third warrant for Abayomi's arrest.
- July. 2017: Abayomi amends his Facebook description to include “Author, Veteran, Net-worker, Entrepreneur”. There is no indication of Abayomi having served in any military service or armed conflict.
- May 2018: After a year of redirecting visitors to his other operations, Abayomi launches a redesigned ParaDon Books website. The site now pretends that the company was established in 2018. It promises to grant authors “massive exposure and instant notoriety”.
After a lengthy period of skulking in the shadows of the internet, Abayomi appears to have resurfaced and to be actively attempting to lure naive authors to ParaDon Books through the IndieWriterSupport website and Facebook group. Thousands of authors, unaware of his past and unequipped to research it, follow his group.
As always, knowledge is the best vaccine against fraud. You can help educate your fellow authors by spreading awareness of operations like these.
Over to you
Have you received spam from Korede Abayomi or one of his online facades? Let us know in the comments below.Watchdog investigation by@johndopp: Beware @indiewritersupp? and other aliases Click To Tweet