OAK HARBOR – An Oak Harbor couple who took thousands of dollars from aspiring authors is prohibited from marketing ghostwriting and publishing services unless they pay back customers, the Attorney General’s Office announced today.
Kristina and Michael Canu, operating under the names The Empty Canoe, LLC, and The Ghostwriting Studio, contracted with consumers to help them write and edit books, market their work and handle all facets of the publishing process including printing, copyright and title registration and royalties. They advertised their business on www.guru.com, as well as Web sites they owned that are no longer online.
The Attorney General’s Office sued the couple and their business after receiving complaints from 21 consumers nationwide. In many cases, the Canus never performed the work, provided only some of the promised services, completed projects late or failed to pay authors royalties for their book sales, according to a settlement filed today in Island County Superior Court.
The Canus made other misrepresentations, according to the stipulated judgment. A small operation with relatively few clients, they represented that they were one of the “premier ghostwriting studios in the world.” They also claimed that by uploading books as PDF files to Google, those books would receive higher rankings on the search engine. In fact, uploading files simply allowed computer users to search for titles; and the defendants often failed to upload the files anyway.
Senior Counsel Paula Selis, an assistant attorney general who leads the Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit, said the Canus are no longer in business and unfortunately lack the $90,000 to refund customers. But the Attorney General’s Office wants to assure they don’t victimize other hopeful authors.
“This settlement assures Kristina and Michael Canu won’t operate another publishing, ghostwriting or book marketing company unless they first refund authors who never received services from The Empty Canoe or The Ghostwriting Studio,” Selis said.
The settlement also prohibits the Canus from making any misrepresentations concerning products or services they market or sell. They agreed to pay $94,000 in civil penalties, suspended provided they comply with injunctive provisions contained in the settlement, and some attorneys’ fees.
Stipulated Judgment and Findings of Fact
Media Contacts: Paula Selis, Senior Counsel, (206) 464-7662
Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager (206) 464-6432