Aug 18, 2023 - News

Former Iowa lottery CEO believes AI may have plagiarized his book

A photo of books.

Perry Beeman and Terry Rich published "The $80 Billion Gamble," on the right, in 2019. Their book was recently replicated by different authors in the book on the left. Photo: Courtesy of Terry Rich

AI could have been used to steal the contents of a book about the biggest jackpot scam in U.S. history, former Iowa Lottery CEO and co-author Terry Rich tells Axios.

  • Some words are changed, but it's largely a replica that, until Thursday, was being sold for $6 cheaper on Amazon.

Why it matters: As AI pseudo-books increasingly spam online bookstores, the literary market is showing cracks, Axios' Scott Rosenberg writes.

  • Unauthorized works cheat authors of compensation and can be difficult for readers to discern from the real deal.

Catch up fast: "The $80 Billion Gamble" documents how Eddie Tipton, the former head of IT security at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Urbandale, hijacked multiple state lotteries.

  • Tipton used a cryptic computer code to greatly narrow the odds of selecting numbers that were supposed to be randomly drawn.

State of play: The multi-year scheme unraveled after Tipton purchased a winning $16.5 million ticket at a DSM convenience store that he unsuccessfully and anonymously tried to claim.

  • He pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges and was paroled last year after serving five years in prison.
A photo of a book.
Many of the same photos were also used in both versions of the book. Photo: Courtesy of Terry Rich

What's happening: Rich says a bogus book by the same name appeared recently on Amazon, allegedly written by author "Phil Mckevitt."

  • Axios' efforts to confirm Mckevitt is a real person were unsuccessful. The book, which Amazon listed as "independently published," says it was made last month in Monee, Ill.

Driving the news: Rich says he asked Amazon to pull the book more than a week ago.

  • It was removed from the site Thursday, a few hours after Axios' inquiry.
  • A Kindle version that named a different author was also removed.

What they're saying: Amazon spokesperson Lindsay Hamilton tells Axios that the company investigates any book when a concern is raised.

  • The company directed us to its online content guide that says it prohibits the sale of material that violates copyrights.

Of note: Amazon is now estimated to control at least half of all U.S. book sales

What's next: Rich says he and co-author Perry Beeman are still trying to identify the publisher in order to send a legal notice to stop any potential future attempts to sell the fraudulent book.

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