It Takes a Community to Take Down a Scammer

Update posted by Christina Garner On Aug 25, 2017

Many of you have been following the KBoards thread where I have been making regular updates about this case, (http://bit.ly/2w2YgNQ) but I wanted to provide an update here as well as talk about the way forward.

For those unfamiliar with what prompted this page, please scroll past the update for the full story.

As many of you know, I’ve been trying to settle this matter since January, when I requested the return of my funds rather than sign new contracts with onerous terms. I also wasn’t comfortable with this book promoter's business practices, which had caused two of her sets to be removed from sale.

This promoter then began an unprovoked and untrue character assassination that lasted for several weeks. I was shocked and humiliated and just wanted it to stop. As I talked to other authors though, I realized this wasn’t just about me; this was how the promoter regularly treats authors in the indie community who fall out of her favor.

No one could afford to fight back, and many who offered me support in private were afraid to speak out publicly for fear of being similarly targeted.

I knew I couldn’t take on this legal action alone; I just don’t have the funds. With your generous help, I raised $10K in a single day and was able to hire an attorney and start legal action.

We began with an offer to settle out of court. All I wanted was an admission that her accusations against my character had no basis in fact. We also asked for a modest financial settlement and indicated we were open to negotiating the amount.

That letter went unanswered, and with the defamation continuing, I was left with no other choice but to file the lawsuit.

Service was first attempted at the Florida address listed for her LLC. Unfortunately, when the process server arrived he was told the address was invalid, and the papers were denied. Our only recourse was to serve the papers at her home in Georgia. Within one hour of service, the twitter account that had been attacking me—calling me a racist, linking to negative reviews, and saying I was unfit to write for teens—disappeared.

For weeks we heard nothing. And then, a few days before their deadline to respond, my attorney was contacted by her attorney. He requested two additional weeks in order to file a responsive pleading, and as a courtesy, my attorney complied. A responsive pleading is either an answer (their side of the argument) or a demurrer (an objection to the case).

Instead of doing either, he filed a motion requesting the case be dismissed, citing California as an inconvenient venue for his client and claiming she does not do business within the state. (This, despite the more than two dozen authors I know by name from California who have used her services, the fact that she uses Facebook, company domiciled in California, as her virtual office—conducting all of her box sets and course via their platforms—and the thousands of books she has sold via iBooks, iTunes, and Google Play, all three California companies.)

We have filed our answer and await the hearing on August 31st confident we will prevail, as it is very rare for a California court to deny one of its citizens a forum for justice.

But here’s the problem. Their goal, I and my attorney believe, is to exhaust me both financially and emotionally. They want to drag this out, knowing I have limited funds and the costs are high. That’s the strategy when a person has no defense—to delay proceedings with motions that cost thousands of dollars to fight—so the aggrieved party eventually gives up.

This battle is costing both of us much more than the disputed contracts are worth. The actions my attorney and I have taken so far have used the $10,000 we initially requested. I have pushed back the launches of my next two books by several months and accepted a 60-hour a week job so that I have funds of my own to contribute.

This is why people walk away from unfair business practices and chalk up the loss to lessons learned—because fighting for what is right is insanely expensive and emotionally draining. But if no one can afford to fight back, it allows the promoter to continue these practices.

I started this fundraiser at the urging of several community members who wanted to see these practices stopped. It’s not about one contract; it’s about promoters exploiting loopholes and convincing authors that there are no consequences to unethical behavior. It’s about intimidation and fear tactics.

Despite the toll this has taken, I am still ready and willing to fight this fight. We have an excellent case with irrefutable proof and a strong witness list. All of the evidence will be available in the trial documents, and I will continue to update the community. But there are several ways to delay a case, and I now expect to confront them all. Every response, every filing has a cost which is why I have reopened this funding page.

I was inspired and heartened by the outpouring of support I received the first time and was hesitant to ask for more, but a fellow author reminded me what I’d named this fundraiser, and it gave me the resolve I needed.

It really does take a community. From the depths of my heart, thank you for your support.

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Update posted by Christina Garner On May 07, 2017

I am absolutely blown away by this outpouring of support from the indie author community. I'd been told this would fund quickly but I admit to being unsure. 22 hours was much faster than anyone expected, I think!

To anyone who has supported me in this (either financially or with words of support) I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I promise to be as transparent about the process as I'm able (I've been asked my my attorney not to discuss our strategy) and will do everything I can to keep earning the trust you've placed with me.

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I've been following this from day one. Thankfully, I was never involved with the scammer but I several people close to me were. I feel like in this, good will eventually prevail over evil and greed.

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