BEWARE: Catfished By A Fake Penguin Employee

After over three years of book blogging, I’m ashamed to admit that I was catfished. I feel incredibly stupid, ashamed, naive and basically any other negative characteristic you can think of. I’m coming forward about this because I think it’s important for bloggers to know about this, so they don’t make the same foolish mistake I did. I know several bloggers who’ve been contacted by this individual and a bunch who already fell for it.

A woman”named” Corinne Rosanna Catlin has been contacting bloggers such as myself and masquerading as a publicity assistant. I originally thought the emails were sketchy, but I figured Corinne was a new employee and wasn’t familiar with the proper etiquette for approaching bloggers. I had so many clues from this sketchy email that she wasn’t who she claimed, but I was excited at the prospect of rekindling my relationship with PenguinTeen that my logic flew out the window.

Note: click on the emails to enlarge them.Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 7.47.05 PM

Her following emails were much more professional and genuine looking that I quelled any doubts I had. I included my correspondence with her below in which she asked me which titles and genres I was interested in. I truly thought that Corinne was a Penguin employee at this point and was excited to review some books. I even gave this woman my address (which is redded out for obvious reasons) and trusted that this was a legitimate operation.

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Today I got mail from Corinne in a box with a Penguin Random House label and a letter that was supposedly from Penguin Young Readers. I received one of the ARCs I requested, a random adult book from a Penguin imprint and a strange looking indie title. The YA book from my list had a “Thrift Books” sticker on it and I’m confident that Corinne bought the ARC I wanted online. This was all a ploy to make bloggers read her novel, Spectaccolo by Christine Catlin, which she claims that Penguin is now publishing in paperback.

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I fell for it and so did many others, but we can’t let this scam artist exploit our community anymore. I know I feel violated and am angry that this charade has been going on for months now. Catlin has gone through so much effort to trip us bloggers up and all of this is truly insane. Please spread the news, I don’t want there to be anymore victims of this scheme.

UPDATED:

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This is the catfish and Penguin has been alerted about her. I had Googled her previously and this was the only thing that came up. She didn’t turn up on LinkedIn or any of the Penguin sites, but I thought 5000 people couldn’t be wrong. In addition, Heidi from YA Bibliophile found this post today after searching her online. “Corinne” had sent the maximum amount of emails that Gmail allows in a day, too bad I hadn’t seen this earlier (see more here). Since this post has gone up, I’ve received emails from an official PenguinRandomHouse address from a Corinne despite confirmations from a source that she doesn’t work there.

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UPDATED again at 1/4/16 at 10:17PM.

Even more people have fallen prey to this scheme, some of which are minors. Penguin Random House is now getting involved in this and their Legal department will be handling this. There is confession to whether or not this individual actually works at the publishing company or not, different sources appear to be conflicting.

Also some sketchy stuff is going on the book’s Goodreads page. Thank you to Julie from Bloggers Heart Books and an anonymous blogger for pointing 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.

To make things worse, she deleted her website and Twitter right before emailing me that she doesn’t have a Twitter account. Luckily, Crystal from Booki Emoji and others have sent me screenshots and has been investigating ever since I told her. Also the “publishing company” Silvestri Books has had their site taken down also. This keeps getting sketchier and sketchier.

Not to mention that, she’s been emailing from an official Penguin Random House email since this post went up and demanding that this post is “confusing and harmful.” She’s also been asking for my phone number “to give me a call.” NOPE.

Another blogger also pointed out that she has “Undercover Spy at a Major Publishing House in NYC” on her Goodreads profile. I think she should leave the whole espionage thing to James Bond.

 

Christine Catlin Christine Catlin1

I’m afraid there’s more coming out every hour and this mess never seems to end. Even literary agencies are wary of her, I wonder how elaborate of a web she’s created. This is all so scary in a Dateline kind of way.

153 Responses to “BEWARE: Catfished By A Fake Penguin Employee”

  1. Rachel @ (bargain)bookbliss

    This is bonkers! If she is so insecure and desperate, she obviously does NOT belong in the book publishing industry. I’m sorry she got you like this. Hopefully she doesn’t use the addresses she’s acquired for anything more sinister.
    Rachel @ (bargain)bookbliss recently posted…It’s a new year!My Profile

    Reply
  2. Whitney Drake

    Thank you for sharing this! Out of curiosity I googled the name from the email to see where else she might pop up – it actually turned up on Google forums, where she was asking for help because she went over her daily limit (Google told her she’d just have to wait until the account unlocked). I can’t even imagine how many emails she sent out for this scam.

    Reply
    • Caitlin Vanasse

      IIRC gmail caps out at 1000 emails sent in a single day. She probably used Google scripts to send them.

      Reply
  3. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    Wow. First, don’t feel stupid 🙁 Or if you do, we can feel stupid together, because I fell for it too. I also gave her my address. I was wary at first too, but like you said- she had sent the emails so professional-sounding, AND she provided what looked like (since it obviously isn’t) a real Penguin email address. Like you said, this is absolutely infuriating- now this random person has my address- even worse, my children’s address!- and it is my own fault for believing her. I seriously want to cry right now, mostly because someone who would go to such deceptive lengths to get a book reviewed clearly is not only incredibly deceitful, but may be completely unhinged.

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this- I now know to be super careful and on alert. I seriously can’t thank you enough. And I am so, so sorry that this happened to you too. It’s such a violation to the whole community.
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…Review: The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca PodosMy Profile

    Reply
  4. Kate @ Ex Libris

    What a bizarre and, quite frankly, inefficient way to get people to read your books! Don’t feel stupid. You know, when you think about it, this community really operates on the idea that we are all honest people. I’m sorry she took advantage of you like that.

    Reply
  5. Wren

    Wow. I can’t believe someone would do this. I’m in complete shock. I’m sorry you had to go through this, but I’m happy you told us all, so this won’t happen again.

    Reply
  6. Aentee

    Thank you for sharing this and speaking up. This is beyond horrifying and I think I would have fallen for her email, too. I hope Penguin will be taking further actions, this impersonation is a violation on so many people’s privacy and trust.
    Aentee recently posted…Diverse Young Adult Book ClubMy Profile

    Reply
  7. El @ Just Love Romance

    This entire stunt is so random and confusing. There are so many resources for an indie author to get their book reviewed, so why go through so much trouble to set up fake accounts and an entire false persona? I guess the desperate need for fame is reason enough…

    Thanks for the fantastic post, I’ll definitely be more cautious with any review requests that I get in the future!

    Reply
  8. Erin @ The Hardcover Lover

    OMG. I am so sorry that you, and so many other book bloggers had to go through this. It’s such a shame, but I’m glad that Penguin has been alerted to it. In a way, I’m relieved that she never contacted me (or if she did, it went straight to my junk folder that I don’t check.)

    Good for you for letting everyone know, though. Maybe the community will be a lot more careful, and only respond to requests that we initiate from now on. That’s what I do because I’m not a very trusting person.

    OMG. I’m in shock still. This is just so scary.
    Erin @ The Hardcover Lover recently posted…Book Review: F This TestMy Profile

    Reply
    • AMG

      oops – pressed submit accidentally.
      The book is not listed on GR to be a Penguin publication. She is engaging in criminal deception; this isn’t clever marketing.

      Reply
  9. Jess @ Reading Nook Reviews

    Jon:

    Don’t feel bad! She obviously went to a lot of effort to try and trick you and everyone else she’s emailed. I definitely would have fallen for it too.

    I’m so sorry this happened, and thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. We all have your book, and don’t hesitate to let me know what I can to do help!

    Reply
  10. M

    I actually clicked on someone’s link to her book (found in the comments here) and used my catfishing skills that I learned from the t.v. show. I found that (probably) all of the reviews are fake. The profiles of those “reviewers” had similar books rated with one sentence reviews and about a paragraph for this particular book. Those same “profiles” are also liking each other’s reviews. Pretty creepy. Too bad she didn’t use those skills for good. =/

    Reply
  11. Rachel @ Fiktshun

    You should not feel stupid. Clearly this woman went to great lengths to perpetrate her scam. I’d actually seen that email (I got one) and was going to forward it to my contact at Penguin because it looked like a scam, the subject line was totally meant to tease/lure in. But things got crazy with the holidays and so I never did. So glad that you’re posting about this so that other bloggers don’t get scammed by her.

    And I don’t know what Gmail’s limit is, but I can’t imagine any publisher’s assistant sending out that many emails in one 24-hour period to have reached their limit. Kind of scary the lengths she is going all just to get blogger addy’s to send her book. Had you tried emailing her at the penguin email to see if it bounced? No matter what though, what she did was so shady and now she has your address, which is scary.

    And this is definitely fraudulent. If she is not in fact an employee of Penguin she’s doing something quite illegal, especially if she’s requesting personal address details. I hope they get the lawyers involved!
    Rachel @ Fiktshun recently posted…Random Thoughts: Looking Back and Looking Ahead #6My Profile

    Reply
  12. J. Torrance

    Author Christine Catlin is a 20-something self-described student at New York University who formerly spent a year homeless in San Francisco. She published her first book at the age of sixteen (a children’s book on monarch butterflies, for sale on Amazon).

    The website of her current/former publishing house, Silvestri Books, is registered in her name. No mentions in PublishersMarketplace or anywhere else of her book being picked up as a Penguin Random House title.

    She sent out a press release in October announcing the publication of her book, with no mention of temping at Penguin Random House (where she says elsewhere she has worked since April 2015):

    http://www.kjnewswire.com/authors-latest-novel-brings-her-own-strangelife-into-the-spotlight/

    Reply
  13. Topaz

    Oh my goodness, this is terrifying. I’m so sorry this happened to you – it’s stunts like this that make me realise just how large the Internet is. Thank you so much for sharing this – I hope Penguin gets involved legally, because it’s not okay at all. Sending so much love & support your way.
    Topaz recently posted…Snazzy Snippets: The Incredible Weight of FeathersMy Profile

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  14. Giselle

    Oh my god, I replied back to her and thought it was weird she didn’t use her Penguin email to contact me. Bloody hell, I fell for it! Thank you for letting us know Jon.. I feel so ashamed that I got duped..and scared too.. 🙁

    Reply
  15. Nikki H @Take Me Away...

    Don’t feel bad! She has screwed herself. She went through so much to get people to read and love her book, that now no one has to read it to know they won’t like it. (I’m sure that sounds “mean” but REALLY.) She took advantage of a lot of bloggers and it’s disgusting, but not your fault. I would have probably fell for it too as it was so elaborate. I’m so sorry this happened to you. If you need an ear, I’m here!
    Nikki H @Take Me Away… recently posted…Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2015!My Profile

    Reply
  16. Sarah K

    Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this before. Sadly people do crazy stuff and use innocent people for their benefit. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to deal with this but thank you for helping us all with awareness and learning that if things looks sketchy they probably are. Great post and I hope they put a stop to her for good.
    Sarah K recently posted…Overcoming Hype: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard ARC REVIEWMy Profile

    Reply
  17. Savannah

    This is crazy, can’t believe someone would do something like this.
    Guys don’t feel stupid for falling for this, honestly I probably would have.
    Thanks Jon, for alerting us to this, so that hopefully no one else falls victim. 🙂
    Savannah recently posted…Musing Mondays (Week 1)My Profile

    Reply
  18. Luna Cooler

    Setting up this whole labyrinth of scams and fake accounts is really quite unnecessary. Really, there are honest alternatives to getting fame. She’s earned her attention, but I don’t think it’s the kind she wants. Perhaps you should block her.

    Reply
  19. Paula Stokes

    Add this author to the list of the duped 🙁 I thought it was really weird she approached me through my editing collective instead of via the contact info on my website, but she had an official address from penguinrandomhouse.com so I believed that her blurb request was legit. FYI: I asked for a bound copy of the manuscript but never received anything.

    Reply
  20. Meghann

    Whoa! Soooo sorry to hear all of this. That’s super creepy and kudos to you for coming out and warning everyone. Don’t feel stupid, this woman went through great lengths to deceive even down to a mailing label.

    Reply
  21. Jayvee @ Writer For Misfits

    It’s so awful that someone like her would exploit book bloggers like us in this way. It would’ve been better if she reeeally wanted to promote her book, she wouldn’t use an ALIAS or CATFISH anyone.

    Now, I feel really, really worried as someone who’s just starting to reach out to publishers.
    Jayvee @ Writer For Misfits recently posted…TOP 15 Reads of 2015My Profile

    Reply
  22. Tash

    Jon,
    We haven’t interacted much but don’t feel stupid. She caught out so many people and thank goodness you took the time put the pieces together and discover the truth. There always going to be bad apples in the industry, but there are only a few who have to the level this chick gone too and this is insanity.
    I honestly wish these authors thought better before they did these things. They don’t release how wide and big the aftermath is and how much damage is done.

    P.S.

    For those newbie bloggers reading this and getting worried. This is RARE and if you aren’t sure, reach out to others if you aren’t sure if the person is legit.

    Reply
  23. Lindsay Brambles

    It’s a sad fact that in an age when readership has steadily shrunk while authorship has ballooned, it is difficult for most writers (even traditionally published writers like me) to garner attention for their books. So I suppose it was inevitable that at some point someone would devise a scheme as truly byzantine as this to attract attention to her work. Matters are not helped any by the fact that the Internet is still something of a sort of wild west frontier, where a certain degree of lawlessness abounds and the perpetrators of scams grow increasingly more sophisticated in the implementation of fraud. It’s an invitation to the morally bankrupt to do the wrong thing and take advantage of honest, innocent people.
    That you were a victim of this is certainly nothing to be ashamed of – particularly in light of the seemingly elaborate lengths to which this woman has gone in an effort to promote her own book. One should never apologize for being a victim; the only individuals in the wrong are those who are guilty of the crime. And certainly it’s difficult to see how this couldn’t be regarded as a crime, as there would appear to have been blatant false representation going on.
    The good thing is that you’ve come forward about this, because in doing so you’ll prevent others from being victimized and may also help to bring some much needed justice to the situation. By speaking out, you’ve also helped raise awareness about this sort of thing, and the more that is done, the safer the Internet will be for all of us. Unfortunately, for every one of these moles that is whacked down, another pops up, which is why one must be ever vigilant about these sorts of shenanigans.
    Regrettably, this is just one of a litany of suspect (and in some cases outright criminal) activities facing the book industry in the age of electronica. One supposes that it was only a matter of time before the larceny that has beggared other industries would eventually infect publishing – but that’s a subject for a whole other debate.
    Anyway, good on you for bringing this to our attention.

    Reply
  24. Caroline

    If you search “christine catlin writer” on Google and navigate to the third page, you’ll see a cache from her Twitter account where she claims to be editorial assistant for Silvestri Books.

    Reply
  25. Shealea

    I am so, so sorry that you had to go through this. This incident is horrifying and terrifying in so many different levels. Never in my life did I think that anyone could possibly stoop so low. I really hope that a proper course of action will take place, and this scammer will be dealt with accordingly.

    As someone who’s only been a part of the blogging community for less than three weeks, I’m very shocked and appalled to know that things like this actually exist. But at the same time, it’s made me realize how closely knit the community actually is. You have numerous friends and fellow bloggers with you. And I think pretty much everyone is more than willing to stand by you and to fight alongside you. Still, stay safe, okay? Thank you for the very informative post.

    Reply
  26. Jessica Wilson

    I noticed she has a review on goodreads under the name “Corinne” stating that she’s an intern at penguin publishing. She didn’t note in the review that she is the author of the book and she’s pimping her own stuff! I’m truly appalled by this person and how by her taking advantage of so many bloggers she’s hurting real writers who could use the help. She’s an awful human being! I’m so sorry you were used and lied to, it’s an ugly feeling 🙁

    Reply
  27. Ruby @ Ruby's Books

    Don’t feel stupid! This was not your fault! This could’ve and actually did happen to a lot of people. The majority of the blogging community is kind and honest, so it’s hard to imagine someone being so cruel and deceitful to do what she did.
    Thank you for speaking up and for sharing your story.
    Ruby @ Ruby’s Books recently posted…2016 Book Blog Discussion Challenge Sign-UpMy Profile

    Reply
  28. Sandra

    I’m so glad you put up this post. This person contacted me too, but I had thankfully refused her our mailing address. Unbelievable.

    Reply
  29. M.K. Drake

    Hi

    Well, this is terrible. Actually makes indie authors like myself who are trying to do things the right way really upset. It paints us in a bad light too.

    Write because you love to write, but do not expect to impose your writing on others. I realised rather quickly that making money as an independant author is a fool’s folly. So I revisited my own motivation and discovered that I write because I love to do it, if my books entertain even just a few, then I take joy from that.

    But… to stoop as low as this person has is dark, sinister, desperate and completely uncalled for. In fact, it is fraud, to claim to be someone else to gain advantage. I’d perhaps even look to maybe reporting her to the police as she has extracted information via false representation of who she really is.

    Anyway, glad you discovered her lies before it went much further. Good luck and be well.

    M.K. Drake
    https://www.facebook.com/atticusmajjaisix/
    https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13066125.M_K_Drake

    Reply
  30. S.B.

    The “about” page on her website [retrieved here from Google’s cache, but now offline] lists “Contracts Associate (Temp)- Penguin Random House” as her job from August to December 2015. This might explain some of the email address shenanigans, though it looks like it was a true temp job (scanning files, data entry, etc.) and not anything like what she represented in emails to bloggers.

    Reply
    • Stig Carlsson

      Her Facebook account is gone gone gone. I gave her a flea in the ear on her second Twitter account…

      Reply
  31. Ashley

    She’s probably at PRH as a glorified intern, which would explain how she got the letterhead and e-mail address.

    Since this would fall under academic honesty, NYU should be notified and she should be expelled. The extent of this scheme is so great and her methods so invasive that she genuinely deserves that, if this was indeed a position required for her program.

    Reply
    • M.K. Drake

      That’s actually a very good point.

      This would also be grounds for termination for gross misconduct.

      Not sure expelling her is a good thing though. A suspension of sorts yes, but expulsion would be life ruining.

      And besides, it looks like she has been exposed to such a degree now that no-one will touch her writing, the collective community will probably see to that.

      Her exposure should be an incredibly effective punishment and more importantly, a life lesson… hopefully.

      Reply
      • Ashley

        I’d normally agree with you, but the fact that she got postal addresses and sent tangible objects shows a scary level of self-serving sociopathy. She should not be with other students. Speaking as faculty elsewhere, I would absolutely not want her in my class.

        Reply
      • Sandy Curtis

        This woman has a definite problem, and to go to such lengths shows how manipulative she is and I doubt that being found out will deter her from trying again in the future.
        No blogger should feel bad about believing what came across as a credible contact. Although it helps to have a certain amount of caution, we can’t go through life questioning the validity of everything. When you are honest yourself you find it difficult to believe someone wants to deceive you.
        Thank you to all the bloggers and reviewers out there for loving books and wanting the world to know about them.

        Reply
    • Lanae

      She’s a KID, isn’t she? I get shunning her books, but wanting her kicked out of her school? A place where she clearly could use a little more focus on her education? That just seems way too harsh. What if it was YOUR child? People have done stupid, dishonest things that have caused a lot more damage than tricking someone into reviewing a book. Most of the damage she’s caused was inflicted on herself. She screwed herself over by trying to manipulate people. And integrity is a hard thing to work on once people on a wide scale have already determined you’ll NEVER have any based on Past/Present behavior. This isn’t just going to go away. I just hope she learned her lesson.

      Reply
  32. Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

    Snapper – I would have fallen for this, too. It would never have occurred to me to question whether someone emailing from what appeared to be a legit Penguin address was actually a fake.

    And to Christine/Corinne: I’m sure you’re reading this, so I’ll speak directly to you. You have the nerve to complain to Jon that his post is “confusing and harmful”? Confusing to whom? Certainly not to me. This was the first I’d heard of you and your appalling behavior, and I found this post very easy to understand, especially with the screenshots and the details to back everything up.

    As for harmful, well…we’ll have to see what happens. Some of the people whose home addresses you fraudulently solicited are minors. I’m sure their parents aren’t pleased. And no doubt, Penguin is not pleased that you used their email address and letterhead to scam people and to commit mail fraud, which is a federal offense.

    So if this post is “harmful” to anyone, (and let’s be honest – your only concern is the potential of harm to yourself, and not to anyone that you willingly and knowingly scammed), just remember that this was YOUR CHOICE. YOUR CHOICE to to steal Penguin’s email domain and letterhead, your choice to solicit home addresses from (dozens? hundreds? of) adults and children. And finally, YOUR CHOICE to top it all off with numerous acts of mail fraud, some targeting children.

    Best of luck to you. You’re going to need it.
    Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia recently posted…Review: Slasher Girls and Monster BoysMy Profile

    Reply
  33. Bel Outwater

    This book was also reviewed in the December issue of VOYA and given a pretty positive rating.. If the magazine review was legitimate, then she has only hurt herself and her book through actions like this.

    Reply
  34. Leeanna @ Leeanna.me

    I was 99.5% sure this was a scam, since she emailed from gmail, the email didn’t sound very professional, and I couldn’t find much on Google about her. Other than the post on google forums about the email limit. But I eventually sent an email the the Penguin address, since it seemed legit…

    Good to know I wasn’t alone 😐
    Leeanna @ Leeanna.me recently posted…Book Review: Armada by Ernest ClineMy Profile

    Reply
  35. KAthryn Evans

    I am stunned to read this – and very irritated it. Book bloggers do sterling work sharing the wonder of books they love – it take time and passion and this abuse is astounding. I hope it doesn’t put you off!

    Reply
  36. Nick Smith

    The funny thing is that some of the positive Goodreads reviews seem to be legit, unless she’s been setting up for this scam for a LONG time. Similarly, if the VOYA review is phony, that would take long planning and some very weird stuff, so that positive review was probably legit. That means that she shot herself in the foot big-time with this scam.
    She’d have been better off just doing a regular giveaway on Goodreads, or contacting a smaller number of bloggers.

    Reply
  37. Celestine Day

    Huh. The photo on the Twitter account screencap looks SO familiar. I think she followed me a while back, because I have “writer” listed in my profile, probably. Yikes. Sorry you got dinged by this scammer.

    Reply
  38. Kerry Cox

    I grant you I may be missing something, but I’m having a tough time discerning what is “horrifying” and “terrifying” about this little scam. At first glance (and admittedly that’s all I’ve taken) it seems like a case of a cunning little con-woman who understands the system, playing the system for monetary gain. Fraudulent? No doubt. Mail fraud? I don’t know, I’m not an attorney. But horrifying? A threat, somehow, to children? Seems a bit of an over-reaction, to me. So she got home addresses? They’re not hard to get. I’d suggest the chances of her going on a nation-wide tour of home visitations to terrorize book bloggers and their families for fun and profit are pretty slim.

    In the end, that’s what we’re talking about here. Book reviews. Not life or death. Not even minor wounds. Chalk it off to a lesson learned. It’s been my experience in six decades of life that these low-level cons tend to hit a very low ceiling, and that’s where they stay for the rest of their lives. Be comforted in knowing that’s her future, and move on.

    Reply
    • Leslie

      I’m with you. Definitely unethical, but “horrifying” to me is the guy who showed up at the house of a negative reviewer and whacked her on the head with a bottle. She seems like a grifter (and if it is really true she was a homeless teen, she may have learned that while on the streets), but I don’t think it’s anything more nefarious than some seriously bad judgment.

      Reply
    • Tez Miller

      If you don’t feel threatened, that’s fine, Kerry. But please don’t belittle other people’s experiences and feelings. Sure, maybe nothing will happen with those addresses and phone numbers. Or maybe we’ll have another Richard Brittain on our hands who will use information to hunt down someone in person and assault them. Or we could have another Kathleen Hale, who’ll make harassing phone calls to the person at work or home, or show up at their house and leave something on their doorstep as a sign that someone was there.

      The thing is, WE DON’T KNOW. So let’s not discount anything, and let the victims feel how they want to feel without being told that they shouldn’t.
      Tez Miller recently posted…Not All Authors, But READERS ARE NOT YOUR BITCHMy Profile

      Reply
      • Kerry Cox

        Tez, if you’re scared, you’re scared. Not trying to belittle that. Your feelings are yours. I was just saying I personally have trouble understanding the horror and terror that arises from someone gaining information that can typically be found in a phone book. Names, addresses and phone numbers are not hard to find. The ownership of a home, for example, is public info; I can get it down at the County Clerk’s office. The girl was just trying to find a way to game the system; a system that’s very tough for new authors. She crossed ethical lines, and (maybe) legal ones. But in the end–where are the damages?

        Reply
        • Denise

          I can guarantee you right now that you wouldn’t find my address in any phone book or in any county clerk’s office for a lot of reasons. I doubt you could find my address even if you googled my full name, it’s not a real common one, because I don’t put my information out there. So if someone did this to me I’d be freaking out. I have PTSD, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorder so something like this would/could send me spiraling out of control. “Where are the damages?” People’s mental health isn’t enough of damage to you?
          Denise recently posted…Book Review → Her Stepbrothers are AliensMy Profile

          Reply
          • Carter

            Denise,
            If you really have all the mental health issues that you claim you do, then don’t give out your address to a stranger.
            Every single person who is now claiming to be “terrified” VOLUNTARILY

            Reply
            • Carter

              gave their home addresses to a stranger. Their “terror” is self-inflicted, due to their own lack of judgement.

              Reply
        • Stephanie @ Inspiring Insomnia

          Kerry: “Terrifying” and “horrifying” are all in the eye of the beholder. Many people are terrified of snakes. I love them. Staircases that don’t have the back part – like in lots of malls, where you can see the ground through the missing back part – terrify me, and I have yet to find anyone else who shares that same fear.

          You write that you’re not trying to belittle anyone, but that IS what it sounds like. And just FYI, Jon is young, so while his parents’ phone number might be listed in a phone book, and while the purchase of their house (assuming they own a house) might be public record, you won’t find any home ownership records for Jon online.

          Also remember that at the time Jon posted this, I don’t believe that anyone else had “come out” with their experiences with this woman, so her very possibly believed that he was solely targeted. And it was only through the responses of other people on here that the pieces began to come together, revealing this person as a scummy author with an ill-thought-out marketing campaign, rather than as someone who deliberately targeted Jon for god knows what.

          As for damages, I’m sure you can see that Penguin could have a claim for damages. For the people who were scammed, the damages would be of the emotional type – nothing that could be pursued legally, most likely, but that doesn’t negate what they felt.

          It’s also very likely that crimes were committed here, but that would have to be pursued by Penguin. Mail fraud, for one, based on the use of stolen Penguin letterhead and posing as publicist.
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          Reply
    • dmc

      Completely agree. Manipulative definitely and maybe even illegal but I heard of people doing worse to get their work read. This reminds me of a story I read about Edward Norton lying about where he was from to get the part in Primal Fear. This isn’t going to ruin this girl. Her reviews before the scam show that people actually liked the book and some people will view her stunt and just being hungry.

      Reply
    • A

      It’s pretty empty, but a couple things learned from there:

      1) She has friends in both the NYU and PRH networks, so she certainly has some kind of tie. Could she have been using a friend’s PRH e-mail for the most recent message?

      2) She’s from Minneapolis. I Googled “Christine Catlin Minnesota” and it brought up a girl who ran track in high school and was in 9th grade in 2010. I’m no mathematician, but…grad school /already/? It obviously might not be her, and I don’t care enough to search more (that would be creepy), but it can’t be a common name, right?

      I think you’re right about the psych help, especially if she’s a college kid. Hopefully she gets what she needs. If she’s still reading comments, I would encourage her to take a deep breath and go tell someone trusted about what’s happened, and let them help you through it. And you can always walk into any emergency room and just ask to talk to someone. They can help figure out what led to this and how to get better.

      Reply
      • Leslie

        If you google, there are 53 Christine Catlins in the US, so it’s not an uncommon name. I’m just saying this because the Christine Catlin in MN may be totally unrelated, and I think care should be taken.

        Reply
  39. Ashley

    I keep thinking about this, and…damn, did she commit mail fraud? If nothing else, she stole money from PRH in the form of shipping costs. That’s a serious offense. And the whole interstate matter…

    Ugh, what a mess. I wonder if PRH or NYU will comment in any way.

    Reply
  40. Caroline

    This is so bizarre. I hadn’t heard of catfishing until I read your tweet.
    Do you know whether she has other persona? I was approached through my blog by a Catherine Ryan Howard, also from Penguin Random House, she said. I sent my address, not knowing about this kind of thing, but never heard anything more. That was in the Autumn.
    I hope your exposure ends this sad tale.
    Caroline

    Reply
    • Stig Carlsson

      Catherine Ryan Howard is an author from Cork, Ireland that has published several books. Your CRH may be an impostor…

      Reply
    • Catherine Ryan Howard

      Hi Caroline (and Stig, below),

      This comment just popped up on my Google alerts which is why I’m only replying to it now.

      I am an author (self-published previously, first traditionally published book coming from Corvus/Atlantic in May) but I also work as a freelance social media marketer for the Irish office of PRH.

      If you contact the office they will confirm this for you, but I’m sure there’s plenty of Google search results that will confirm same as this is listed in a number of professional bios, e.g. on my agent’s website, on PR for my upcoming book and in the bio I provided to Publishing Ireland, the Irish publishers’ trade association, when I did a seminar for them on social media marketing for publishing. The MD of PRH Ireland was the chair of the association at the time, which is how the invite came about.

      As I’m a freelancer, when I collect information for PRH – such as addresses – I pass it onto to someone who physically works in the office so they can post out the books and, occasionally, things don’t get followed up. Hence me contacting you and there being no follow up.

      Lots of publishers employ freelancers, and many of them are also authors or do other book-related things too. The case described here is obviously NOT that, as the difference is we do the job we’re paid to do and don’t use it as a pathetic scam to promote our own books.

      I understand your concern, but I would ask that you do some research before you make accusations, especially in a public sphere.

      Thanks,
      Catherine

      Reply
  41. Poppy

    What is the scam, exactly? As far as I can tell you’re just reviewing her book for her and for free, too… you get a free book and she gets a review… as far as I can tell she didn’t steal money from you. Am I missing something?

    Reply
  42. Ginny Swart

    Everyone getting their knickers in an indignant knot- this girl is a PR marketing genius- look at all the chatter she has going around her and if she can actually write a good book, that’s a plus. More power to her is wot I say!
    Ginny Swart recently posted…Nice WorkMy Profile

    Reply
  43. M.K. Drake

    Hi

    Well, this is terrible. Actually makes indie authors like myself who are trying to do things the right way really upset. It paints us in a bad light too.

    Write because you love to write, but do not expect to impose your writing on others. I realised rather quickly that making money as an independant author is a fool’s folly. So I revisited my own motivation and discovered that I write because I love to do it, if my books entertain even just a few, then I take joy from that.

    But… to stoop as low as this person has is dark, sinister, desperate and completely uncalled for. In fact, it is fraud, to claim to be someone else to gain advantage. I’d perhaps even look to maybe reporting her to the police as she has extracted information via false representation of who she really is.

    Anyway, glad you discovered her lies before it went much further. Good luck and be well.

    M.K. Drake

    Reply
  44. Phil Harrison

    Just to be safe, and this applies to anyone contacted by someone on behalf of anything, ALWAYS contact the company [independently meaning don’t use any links they give you but google the company] and ask if So and So works for them and if they are contacting you on behalf of the company. They won’t complain. They would rather not have their name messed about in something like this or fake winning schemes or whatever.

    Reply
  45. Elyse Bruce

    My friend, author Rose Castro, shared this in a Facebook group she runs, and I’m gobsmacked to read that this Corinne Rosanna aka Corinne Rosanna Catlin aka Christine Catlin dared to pull something so unethical and unprofessional!

    Her behavior will only make it more difficult for legitimate authors to be taken seriously when they contact reviewers, and to trust that legitimate authors aren’t playing them.

    I’m sorry to read that anyone would do this to others, and I’m sorry to read that this happened to you Jon.

    Reply
  46. Laura @Library of Clean Reads

    Thank you so much for this eye-opening and informative post. I’m in my 8th year of book blogging and I’ve seen so many scams nothing surprises me anymore. Don’t feel bad about being taken in. I wouldn’t have thought her initial emails weren’t legit since there are publicists out there who aren’t very good with pitches. I cringe at some of the emails I get from some publicist from traditional publishing houses.

    Reply
  47. Lila @ The Bookkeeper's Secrets

    Thanks for the alert! It’s sad and scary that someone would do something like this but it’s nice to see the book blogging community is close enough to band together and fight back! Definitely don’t feel like it’s your fault, it’s totally not!

    Reply
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  49. Charnell @ Reviews from a Bookworm

    I am so sorry this has happened to you and so many other bloggers, it’s a total violation. Not only that, but it is one more case to be put against self-published authors, that makes people not trust them. This means that some wonderful, kind authors might miss out on having their books reviewed, because people aren’t willing to trust them.

    Reply
  50. anastacia

    I just don’t even understand why she would do all of this – there are tons of book bloggers out there (like me) who love indie books, who would have given her book a fair chance if she had just been honest and upfront. Sure, I’m a small-league book blogger, but wouldn’t that have been better then all this? Though they say any publicity is better than none…

    Reply
  51. Jocelynn

    Imagine the results if she had spent that energy marketing her book the right way. I know they say all press is good press. She has her name and book title all over the internet now. Did she get what she wanted in the end?

    Reply
  52. Eryn

    A cached version of her website says she was 18 in 2014. And has dreamt of nothing but being in publishing since she was a little kid.

    Thank God I didn’t have such a venue to make such a huge embarrassment out of myself when I was 19. I hope she gets her head on straight soon.

    My message to her? Just stop. Apologize to everyone involved & acknowledge that you have hurt & upset some people. No matter what your intent was, you have to acknowledge that you screwed up & upset people. And then invest your time in something else for a while. Go back to school. Write write write. People have recovered from worse. But you have to stop making it worse & be genuine about not repeating your past mistakes.

    Be well & be safe, everyone.

    Reply
  53. Samuel M

    Disturbing story!! Furthermore, another disturbing thing is the slaughter of the Italian language! “Spectaccolo” is a fake itself!! It doesn’t mean NOTHING! “Spettacolo” is the right Italian word!

    Reply
    • Ashley

      Well that’s pretty obviously just a play on words, combining “spectacular” and “spettacolo.” There’s no problem with that.

      Reply
  54. Jana

    I fell for it too. It’s embarrassing, but happened to a lot of people. The worst part is I felt like her email was “wrong” even as I replied to it. It just didn’t look like a normal publishers email! Hopefully nothing bad will come out of this for those of us who were fooled.

    Reply
  55. Katie @ ShelfishlyAddicted

    I found out about this through Evie at EvieBookish, so I’m a little late. I’m sorry you and the other bloggers were scammed by this girl, and that’s exactly what she is: a girl with no common sense. Did she really think she would not be found out, especially by sending thrift shop ARCs? Incredible.

    For the bloggers to whom this happened, don’t feel bad. If I received an email from a legit-looking address and/or received letterhead and proper labeling on a package, I would believe it too!

    I’d be curious to know if there are any other updates?
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    Reply
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  57. Jinx

    I’m a little late to the party here. I was contacted by this person. She said she was an intern at Penguin and she obviously had done her research on what types of books I read/review, as opposed to many people I’ve had contact me about reviews. I went to the Penguin site and found some other books I was interested in, since past experience has taught me if a publishing company wants you to review one book they will likely throw in another book as well, and I made a list for her.

    It seemed a bit dodgy that she wouldn’t actually tell me the name or exact plot of this book, but she also said I didn’t have to read it. She really sounded like an intern that was just supposed to get the book to people without having a vested interest in the outcome herself. I did get Spectaccolo in the mail along with one of the other books I said I’d be interested in (and the other one was a nice hardcover.) I didn’t imagine it wasn’t a legit “intern is sending me books” thing because I mean…she sent me both books!

    I read the other book soon after receiving it, but when I looked at Spectaccolo and read the plot I thought, “dreadful!” so I almost didn’t read it at all, but then I thought my ten year old self would have loved the idea of being raised among lions and starring in a circus act so I finally ended up reading it yesterday.

    Well, it’s not a very good book. It’s laughably bad, really. It seems like there is a lesson in there but then there isn’t. The ending is very abrupt, like there is a big reveal but no point to it. So many little details are just wrong. The way some people speak is (unintentionally) hilarious. So many things I could say about the book, none of them good. So, I went to Amazon to review it and couldn’t find it. Finally found it on goodreads and saw the whole catfishing thing.

    Honestly, I think the whole thing is pretty funny. If only the author were as good at writing as at marketing.

    Reply

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