When I link a book on SSC, I use an Amazon affiliate link and get a couple of bucks if people buy it. I have a lot of linked books, so I end up getting a couple hundred dollars a month from this. It’s pretty nice.
They always pay me two months or so late. Last night I got August’s payment, and it was $4,000. I checked my Amazon Control Panel, and it says September’s payment (which is pending and which I’ll get at the end of this month) is $36,000. After this it goes back to normal and I am owed a completely normal couple of hundred dollars for October.
My blog traffic didn’t change. The way I used Amazon links didn’t change.
I spent last night trying to figure out what was going on and I’ve got nothing. The weird purchases seem to have ramped up gradually over a period of three days August 27-29, lasted just under a month, and then ramped down over a few days September 20-23. They seem to be mostly books - almost 30,000 of them. Most of them are children’s books, although there are enough other things mixed in (including some SSC-relevant books like psychopharmacology texts) that it’s not some weird children’s-books-buying-bot.
The only thing I can think of is that maybe somehow my Amazon banner, which is supposed to flag people who click on it as sourced from me for that visit, was for some reason flagging every single person who visited SSC as sourced from me permanently, so that anything they bought from Amazon during that time was viewed as my referral. I have heard there are ways for dishonest people to make this happen on purpose. Maybe it can happen by accident. But I didn’t make any changes to the Amazon banner when the increase started, and I didn’t make any changes when it stopped. And I also don’t understand why this would wind up/wind down gradually over a few days instead of either happening or not happening.
Alternately, maybe some hacker who likes SSC decided to use me as a test case for some new high-tech Amazon defrauding method.
I’ve sent Amazon an email saying this makes no sense, and that I’m not consciously trying to defraud them, and if I’m accidentally defrauding them they should tell me how and I promise to stop. So far I haven’t heard back from them.
Have any of you ever heard of anything like this before?