Impersonating Agents: A New Face For An Old Scam

Image of a wolf (scammer) hiding behind a smiling mask

UPDATE: The scam profiled in this post is now using the email address in addition to, and may also be using the address


Acquisitions Galley (aka AG LIterary Agency)
Best Writers Publishing House
Cedar Literary
Creative Media Editors Inc.
Brand With US LLC
Editors Press and Media
Scriptor House
WordTalk Press
Writers Press Publishing House

A few weeks ago, the Bent Agency notified me that an email was doing the rounds falsely claiming to be from Jenny Bent.

First solicitation email from fake Jenny Bent

Though it links to the real Bent Agency website and cites the correct address, this is clearly a scam. Real, reputable literary agents very rarely reach out to writers they don’t already represent–and if they do, it’s a personal approach, not a form letter that doesn’t mention the writer’s name or the title of their book (note also that there’s no “To” category, indicating a mass mailing to multiple recipients). Other indications include ungrammatical text (apart from the last two paragraphs, which have been copied from the Bent Agency’s Who We Are page)–not something you’d expect from a reputable agent–and an email address that doesn’t match the agency’s web domain.

Impersonating reputable agents, editors, and publishing people is a very common tactic for the fake literary agency scams that are so common these days. I’ve written a number of posts about this phenomenon.

Usually what happens if a writer responds to a solicitation like the one above is that the “agent” promises commission-only representation–but it somehow turns out that the author has to pay, whether for re-publishing their book (most of these scams target self-published authors), editing, a video trailer, movie producer pitches, a book proposal, printed books to submit to “investors”, and more. In other words, it’s a bait-and-switch, with the “agent” being a front for the scammer that actually sells the “services”.

Ah, but sometimes it’s even more complicated than that.

It wasn’t long before I got additional reports of approaches by Fake Jenny. This one, designed to appeal to writers’ dreams of money and book sales, drops the Bent Agency text and links (and also clearly signals what writers will have to pay for):

Second solicitation from fake Jenny Bent

This one abandons the agent pretense entirely: Fake Jenny is now a “copyright coordinator and specialist”. But her email address is the same, and paragraph one is virtually identical to paragraph two of the first solicitation:

Third solicitation email from fake Jenny Bent

Here’s the “list of producers” referenced in the email’s final sentence (the content of the list appears to have been stolen from Stage 32). Note the reference to the company that purports to be its source: Scriptor House.

Note also the company referenced in Fake Jenny’s payment information: Best Writers Publishing House.

Banking information for Best Writers Publishing House LLC

(Side note: requiring payment by wire transfer or apps like Zelle and Venmo is becoming more and more popular with scammers, as these methods make it much harder, if not impossible, for writers to dispute charges.)

So is Fake Jenny a front for two different scammers? Not exactly.

Last August, I wrote a long post about a scam that did business in the Philippines as Editors Press and Media, and elsewhere under several names, including Silver Ink Literary Agency. Silver Ink was an enthusiastic practitioner of the impersonation game, along with a variety of other deceptive tactics, such as faking contract offers and other documents from major publishers, and falsely claiming associations with industry groups such as the Authors Guild. I heard from authors who lost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars to Silver Ink’s schemes.

Eventually, between my post, some decidedly unfriendly attention from the Authors Guild, and proliferating online complaints, things got too hot for Silver Ink. This past March, it closed down, along with its alter-ego, Global Review Press.

That didn’t mean the scamming stopped, though. Why would it, when ripping off authors is so lucrative? One of the advantages of running an online scam from overseas is that you can ditch one business name, register another, and resume operations in the time it takes to slap up a new website. That’s what happened here. Goodbye Silver Ink Literary Agency and Global Review Press; hello Best Writers Publishing House and Scriptor House (I’ve confirmed these connections via documentation provided to me).

(UPDATE 2/16/23: The Best Writers Publishing House company name seems to have been retired–its website URL returns a “site not found” message. Scriptor House is still operational.) (UPDATE 3/28/23: Three new names have been added: Acquisitions Galley, Creative Media Editors Inc., and Brand With US LLC.)

Fake Jenny, in other words, is not just a front for a scam, but a front for scams that are themselves fronts for scams. And why stop at one fake agent? David Dunton of Harvey Klinger Literary Agency is also being impersonated, using the same email address and largely identical email text:

Solicitation impersonating agent David Dunton

Bringing the scam full circle, Best Writers Publishing House is targeting former Silver Ink clients with Fake Jenny emails. No need to buy new leads when you already have a list of people you know are vulnerable to fraud.

The moral of this story, as always: even if it uses the name of a reputable person or company, any publishing-related solicitation that arrives out of the blue should be treated as a scam–at least until you can definitively determine otherwise.

The Bent Agency website now includes a scam alert.

UPDATE 8/15/22: Also being impersonated: agents Jamie Carr and Elisabeth Weed of The Book Group.

UPDATE 9/12/22: Not content with merely impersonating real agents, the Best Writers Publishing House folks are impersonating imaginary ones, using a new set of false names: Allison Summers and John Morris, with the email address How do I know this? Because they send out fake “letters of intent” that are largely identical to those sent out by their earlier incarnation, Silver Ink Literary Agency, right down to the address and the ridiculous “certified true copy” stamp. Compare:

Bogus letter of intent supposedly from Penguin Random House, sent by Silver Ink Literary Agency
Bogus Letter of Intent supposedly from Penguin Random House sent by Allison Summers and John Morris

UPDATE 9/21/22: Agent Steve Troha of Folio Literary Management is also an impersonation target. Note the “To” line and the lack of personalization, which indicate that this is being sent out as a mass mailing.

Scam solicitation impersonating Steve Troha of Folio Literary Management

UPDATE 11/2/22: More impersonation: David Hale Smith of Inkwell Management and Sarah Haugen at HarperCollins, whose name was attached to a fake “book acquisition deal” email.

UPDATE 12/2/22: Yet more impersonation: Christy Fletcher of Fletcher & Co. and Nicole Cunningham of The Book Group.

UPDATE 12/15/22: Steve Ross of the Steve Ross Agency is also being impersonated by this scam. The email sent out under his name is somewhat different from the others, but it’s the second one I’ve seen that references this imaginary “International Book Seal.” When the other author who got one of these asked the agent impersonator what the heck a book seal was, the impersonator was unable to explain. Seriously, guys, if you’re going to make up a service, at least give your sales reps a script so they won’t be caught out!

Scam email impersonating Steve Ross of the Steve Ross Agency

UPDATE 1/13/23: Added to the impersonation list: Rick Lewis of Martin Literary Management. See that black block at the top of the solicitation? That’s the big list of email addresses this email went to. It’s been clear from the start that these solicitations are mass emails, rather than the canned but personalized approaches other scammers prefer, but it’s interesting to have proof. Given that the recipients are identified in the email as having used Xlibris, this strengthens my suspicion that Author Solutions sells its customer data.

Scam solicitation impersonating agent Rick Lewis of Martin Literary Management

UPDATE 1/20/23: More additions to the impersonation list: Caitlin Blasdell and Tom Miller at Liza Dawson Associates.

Harper has published a fraud alert on its website, though you have to really dig to find it.

Scam solicitation impersonating Caitlin Blasdell and HarperCollins

UPDATE 2/16/23: As I’ve noted before, scammers are among my most loyal readers. Apparently things have gotten a bit too hot for the email address, so they’re using a new one, (domain registered 10 days ago). It’s like putting on a hat and thinking no one will know it’s you, though, because the email itself is largely identical to the Caitlin Blasdell one above. And they’re impersonating agent Victoria Sanders.

Scam solicitation with different email address impersonating Victoria Sanders

UPDATE 3/28/23: Some new names for this scam: Acquisitions Galley and Creative Media Editors Inc. There’s also Brand With US LLC, which appears on the wire transfer info used by the scam.

Here’s the latest email; note that while “Juan’s” signature includes the URL of the new Acquisitions Galley name, he’s sending from the telltale email address. The invoice referred to is for “developmental editing” from Creative Media Editors Inc., for $3,500.

Email with editing invoice from Juan at, with URL in signature for

UPDATE 3/31/23: More impersonated agents: Daniel Conaway of Writers House, Kirby Kim of Janklow & Nesbit, Peter Steinberg of Fletcher & Co., Rachel Beck of Liza Dawson Associates.

UPDATE 4/23/23: Here’s the latest solicitation from, impersonating agent Robbie Guillory of Underline Literary Agency. Different wording, but similar “representation requirements”, including the totally bogus International Book Seal.

Solicitation email impersonating Robbie Guillory

UPDATE 4/30/23: Based on identical solicitation emails, it appears that a new name has been added to the scam roster: Writers Press Publishing House. Emails I’ve seen impersonate Macmillan.

UPDATE 5/24/23: The scam is now impersonating agent Dana Murphy (who really works at Trellis Literary Management) via the email address, with a laughably fake “letter of intent” from Penguin Random House and a “developmental editing services” agreement with Creative Media Editors Inc. Here’s CME’s banking info:

Creative Media Editors banking information

UPDATE 6/10/23: Apparently the Trellis impersonation is too good to abandon, but the address has gotten too hot; the scam is now using the email address to impersonate a roster of Trellis agents (the real Trellis email address is Watch out for fake solicitations from Allison Malecha, Natalie Edwards, and Danya Kukafka in addition to Dana Murphy. Likely other Trellis agents names are being used as well. Trellis has been informed and is aware of the scam, but unlike some impersonated agencies, hasn’t posted any kind of warning.

As with fake Dana, fake Allison and fake Natalie and fake Danya refer authors to Creative Media Editors Inc. for developmental editing. Same banking info as above.

UPDATE 6/23/23: Lucienne Diver and The Knight Agency are the latest impersonation targets. As with the Trellis scam, they’re using a fake email address that looks authentic unless you check: (the real address is The domain associated with that email address was registered just 14 days ago as of this writing.

UPDATE 7/24/23: Jennifer Carlson of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency is the latest impersonation target. As with Trellis, the scammer is using a fake email address that can be mistaken for the real one: (the real address is The agency has a warning on its website, but it’s way down at the bottom where it can easily be missed.

UPDATE 8/21/23: Based on email solicitation content identical to what’s in the screenshots above, the scam is also doing business as WordTalk Press.

UPDATE 11/14/23: The impersonation machine trundles on: emails identical to the Victoria Sanders one above are going out purportedly from “Sam Stoloff, from the acquisitions team of Frances Goldin working with HarperCollins.” Sam Stoloff is a real agent with the Frances Goldin Literary Agency.

And…a new fake agency joins the party: Cedar Literary, whose website is replete with false claims of representing real writers. Here’s the solicitation Cedar is sending out; the section beginning with “The publishing industry has evolved at par” is identical to portions of the Steve Troha impersonation email in the 9/21/22 update above. Also, although “Paul Gonzales” is not a real agent, he has the bio of one–or at least, large portions of it: Peter Steinberg of Fletcher and Company, who the scam has impersonated directly in the past (see the 3/21/23 update above).

Solicitation email from Paul Gonzales, Literary Manager, Cedar Literary


  1. Reviewed version:

    —– Forwarded Message —–
    From: Kirby Kim
    To: Name
    Sent: Friday, August 4, 2023 at 04:31:06 PM EDT
    Subject: Re: Regarding Offer

    COMMENT: Not a professional company email address – anyone can have an email – does not lend itself to legitimacy.

    Sorry for the late response.
    I am kind of busy, you know how Fridays are.

    COMMENT: Lazy language, unprofessional and very much like foreign scammers who don’t understand the complexity of our grammer.

    Being acquired by a Traditional Publishing company like Penguin Random House will help you reach more of your intended audience. They have more than 3000 affiliated bookstores worldwide and they will do extensive and aggressive marketing for the book.
    COMMENT: Same language used by Author Solutions, biggest self publishing scammer parent company under Penguin Random house now, since 2013.

    So, this is what will happen, Penguin Random House wanted to acquire the rights to your book.
    COMMENT: 1) Lazy language, unprofessional and very much like foreign scammers who don’t understand the complexity of our grammer.
    2) “wanted” is past tense, should say “wants”
    In acquiring the rights, you will only relinquish the rights to distribution, publishing, and publicity.

    COMMENT: Once acquired, they own all rights to that book and can therefore hold it hostage for future fees to publish and promote or to somehow buy your rights back if that’s even a possibility. They own all rights to do whatever they want at that point.

    You will still be the Author of the book. It’s just that they will make sure that they can recuperate for the investment that they are putting in because this is business after all.
    COMMENT: Odd terminology “recuperate for the investment” ???

    Since that they will acquire the rights, they will provide you with an upfront fee ranging from $50,000-$100,000 depending on how marketable the book they think.
    COMMENT: a) “Upfront fee” — note the word “fee” used – a fee is a charge to you, not a “book advance” or “advance on commissions”. This sounds like it would become a “loan” on the “promise of future sales” that would have to be paid back if the sales don’t make enough to cover. Note that the “profit” is only 20-30%, so not sure how long it would even take to pay off a 50k loan on the lower side of the amounts he’d stated.
    b) “ranging from 50k – 100k ‘depending'” — opinion based terminology – they could say its worth less than 50k for example
    c) “how marketable the book they think” — BAD GRAMMER – makes no sense, should read “how marketable they think the book is”. ( If he can’t proofread his own email, then how legitimate is this person?)

    So as an agent, I will help you bid for the highest upfront fee because that is where I base my income in this venture, meaning that you don’t need to pay me, I am commission-based, 15% to be exact.
    COMMENT: He states that you don’t need to pay his commission, but he never says who does pay it or how…

    You will have a contract with them for 2-3 years depending also on the deliberation and you will be getting 20%-30% of the monthly sales.
    COMMENT: a) “contract for 2-3 years ‘depending on deliberation’ — to be determined type of terminology – could be less than 2 years
    b) Since you are under contract for 2-3 years, you would be stifled from doing anything with your book outside of them since they own the rights and even after the contract runs out, it’s unsure what rights you would have afterwards to the book.

    By the way, this is a guaranteed acquisition. I will be presenting a polished book through a PowerPoint presentation and that is where I will shoot for the highest possible upfront fee with the contract and the percentage. But before the deliberation, there will be requirements needed for the acquisition. This will be a part of my presentation and the requirements are:
    COMMENT: Again, he’s using “upfront fee” as the terminology – not “advance”.

    COMMENT: Further research into self-publishing “vanity publishers” that promote authors such as Author Source, they will charge you after acquiring for editing, promoting and other ad-hoc items as you go along and don’t stop trying to upsell you going forward.

    If you have these requirements, just send them to me so that I can compile them, the sooner the better. I will be waiting for your response. Thank you and God Bless.

    NO SIGNATURE LINE — Should have this information as a professional closing – he’s only given you a sketchy email as a way to contact him. (You don’t even know if they’re in the US without phone numbers, etc.)

    Full Name
    Title of Company Position
    Company Name
    Contact information:
    a) Office phone number with extension;
    b) LinkedIn (professional workplace social website – most companys have a LinkedIn presence
    c) Skype ID (online chatting platform used by office professionals)

  2. It sounds like the old joke about an Italian sports car called the ‘Cosanostra’. When you lift up the hood, there is another hood.

  3. Excellent article. Most newbee authors are unaware of these scams. An unsolicited contact by a literary agent or publisher just never happens. Authors also need to be aware of companies that only work with authors interested in self-publishing. It isn’t an actual scam although they don’t come forward about their fees until you are asked to send them your manuscript without a contract. If you take the bait you will be on the hook for several thousand dollars or much more. I recently got a response to a query I sent to an agent. He told me up front he was wanting $0.02 a word for editing and, a commission on royalties. I also discovered he had been let go by the agency he worked for. This shows you the need to vet people and agencies before moving forward.

  4. Well ,add these names to the lists of schemers: Sean Roberts macmillan Publishers Talent Acquisitions Team
    email: The letter states: “Congratulations on your successful 2023 acquisition!”.. This is Sean Roberts, from the acquisitions team working with Macmillan Publishers ltd. Since we received a literary agent’s application this past March 2023, your book’s content and reviews have been approved. ……
    They list the date of contract release, the amount of the payment for rights to my book for five years, and the requirements for me to submit – including a query letter, sample book video trailer, author’s website, and photo. I sent all items but the book trailer – as I don’t have that item. I was directed to “get in touch with Fay Peters at Writer’s Press LLC…Email: I received personal phone calls from both Sean Roberts and Fay Peters. Then they tried to set the hook…. carefully suggesting that they would do the book trailer for me – but that it must be done in ten days… and that I would need to pay Fay Peters (the agent of referral) for this necessary item. The strange thing is that there was never a specific billing or mode of payment suggested in the many emails and conversations. I finally explained to Fay Peters that my lawyer insisted in reviewing the contract prior to any investment by me. When I stated this information, Fay Peters hung up the phone.
    This whole scam was so very realistic that I actually bought into it as My book is about a new way to present content in the primary grades and I believe that my book is relevant and informative at this time in history. All the sample contracts were on Macmillan publishers letter head – just like on their website! Is this not some kind of crime – to falsify identity in the act of misrepresenting a publisher – in order to convince someone to purchase a product needed to complete the process of entering into a legal agreement for purchase?
    Please let me know if anyone else has received this same offering. Jan Magray

    1. Hi, Jan,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve heard from writers who received the same solicitation, with the same claim about Macmillan, and were referred to Writers Press Publishing House. Macmillan is aware they’re being impersonated, and have a warning on their website (though you kind of have to dig to find it).

      Sorry you were targeted. There are many impersonation scams, and some of them are really elaborate. The key is solicitation: reputable publishers, agents, and others don’t reach out to writers they don’t already work with–but for scammers, it’s their main recruitment tool. Any out of the blue solicitation should be treated as a scam, unless you can definitely determine otherwise.

      1. I received a similar email. It begins to feel overwhelming. Like how do you find someone that isn’t a scammer.

        1. Hi, Amanda,

          One of the main things to remember is that reputable agents very, very rarely contact authors out of the blue. Given the huge number of impersonation scams, any solicitation you receive from someone identifying themselves as an agent–every if it appears to be a real person with a good reputation–should be presumed to be a scam unless you can definitely determine otherwise.

          In terms of finding agents, there’s an article on my personal website you may find helpful–it offers some tips about researching and querying agents, plus a technique that’s designed to help exclude the questionable ones from your query list: . Also see the Literary Agents page of Writer Beware, which offers extensive information on literary agents, info on what to watch out for, and a list of helpful online resources: .

  5. Dear Victoria,

    Huge thanks for letting people know that I am also being impersonated. I filed a complaint with the local authorities to no avail.

    A few weeks ago a Private Investigator helped me track the scammer/s down to an address in Toronto, Canada. However, jurisdictionally, I have no recourse. Moreover, just today, I heard from two new authors who were contacted by the scammer. It is so frustrating.

    Thank you again for shedding light on this scourge.

    Kind regards,
    Victoria Sanders

    1. Victoria, would you be willing to share any of the information your PI uncovered? I’d keep it confidential, but I’d be really interested to know more, especially since the parent scam is located in the Philippines.

  6. I’ve been researching agents and noticed some are listed with but I wasn’t able to find that agent on the agency’s website. Is this common for a new literary agent or possibly a scammer?

    1. Hi, Patti,

      It does seem odd that an agent who claims an affiliation with an agency isn’t listed on the website, but there could be an innocent explanation: as you say, the agent could be new and the website just hasn’t been updated. One way to check: the agent should be using the company email address. If they aren’t, I would say that’s a definite caution sign, given all the impersonation scams around.

    2. Thank you for this post. I had been emailing and calling back and forth with someone who I thought was Allison Malecha with Trellis Literary Management. Seemed on the up and up and was straightforward that I would need to get the editorial reviews done, and she recommended one. After I signed the “contract”, she was real quick to push for the editorial review, and sent a screenshot of the “Structural analysis and developmental editing” invoice for $1500 from none other than Creative Media Editors. I also received the forwarded email from her and the email was forwarded to her by I’ve sent an inquiry to just be certain and to make them aware at the very least, but your post helped me dodge a bullet. Thank you.

      1. Thanks for your comment, Tim, and I’m glad you found my blog. I’ve gotten several reports of the fake Trellis emails, and based on the M.O. I’ve been pretty certain they match up with this scam, which is responsible for the bulk of the agent impersonations out there…but I haven’t been able to document this. Would you be willing to forward me all the emails you’ve gotten, especially the one referencing Creative Media Editors? . Thanks!

  7. Book Vine Press said they wanted to make a movie with one of my westerns. They wanted $2500. I have paid $3000, and now I never hear a word from them.

    1. That’s unfortunately very common with Filipino scam companies like Book Vine Press–they take your money and run. I’m sorry this happened to you.

      If you paid by credit card or Paypal, and are within the window to file a chargeback dispute, I recommend you do that–I’ve heard from writers who’ve been able to get money back that way.

    1. Thanks for letting me know–I’ll add that name to my list of impersonated agents. Several of the agencies that have been targeted by this scam have added alerts to their websites–that can be helpful, since writers do check. Thanks again.

  8. I almost fell for a similar scam, this one representing a well known ‘movie producer’.
    The email spewed fawning admiration for my book, without ever mentioning its title or anything about it. Just how wonderful and imaginative and exciting that it was. Perfect for a movie.
    It was really fun for awhile. I responded enthusiastically and actually enjoyed the brief possibility that I was finally getting the break all writers dream of.
    But when the next email asked for money, reality settled in.
    My condolences to those who are successfully scammed. Hope is a weakness, not a business plan.
    I don’t write because I like to, or even because it is enjoyable.
    It is simply a harmless sickness where I create and inhabit realities. No harm in it.

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