Help Us Win Against Plagiarism
Together We Can Send The Message That Stealing Is Not Okay! And Harassment is a Crime.
She Stole From Me
This past August I learned that an anonymous author on the Internet, who was known only by a logo and a fake name, had plagiarized my novel, A Bid for Love (formerly entitled Love to the Highest Bidder, copyright 1998). Sam Taylor Mullens published “her” book on Amazon and sent it out to multiple reviewers, some of whom had read my novel. When confronted about the obvious similarities, “Sam” lied and said she had collaborated with me.
Here Is Undeniable Proof She Stole My Book
(also see screenshots at the very bottom of this page)
Rachel Ann Nunes 1998 - The dark brown curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for twenty-eight of Cassi’s twenty-nine years. They puffed out from her scalp and plunged halfway down her back as if they had lives of their own, helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the double sink reflected from the brown tresses, bringing out the subtle gold highlights.
Sam Taylor Mullens, The Auction Deal 2014 - Dark brunette curls were everywhere. They were a curse, and had been for the thirty-one years of my life. They puffed out from my scalp and plunged halfway down my back. They helplessly tangled and twisted together. The bathroom lights above the sink reflected the brown tresses.
Reviewers Confirm The Plagiarism
As the rights to the book have returned to me, and I indie-published the current version, it is up to me to make sure my copyright is protected.
I contacted first “Sam” for an explanation and then some of reviewers.
Six of eight reviewers confirmed the plagiarism (some of their names have been redacted for their protection):
Two Reviewers Later Identified As Aliases Of The Plagiarist Threaten Me And Berate My Work
Mercedes and Other Aliases Post Harassing Comments on Facebook
The Plagiarists Denies Everything
“Sam” did respond to my email but said she had no idea how the novels became so similar. She refused to give me a copy of “her” book because it contained sex. She also pulled the book and her other published novels from Amazon.
She Pretends To Be A “Friend” Of The Plagiarist
Then writing to me under the name Tiffanie Rushton, the plagiarist emailed me saying she was a real life friend of “Sam” and that a man, who later died, had given “Sam” the manuscript and told her it was no longer in print. In the email, Tiffanie also praised “Sam,” saying that she was a community leader who has a disabled son.
One-Star Reviews of My Book Under Plagiarist's Aliases Shows Intent To Plagiarize
But we found 5 one-star reviews on my stolen book under her different aliases, all dated two months before “her” book was published on Amazon, so it was clear she knew she was plagiarizing. (Emma's last name redacted because it turned about to be a real name used without permission by the plagiarist—more on that below.)
Tiffanie Rushton's Amazon review page:
Plagiarist Lies About My Family
Around the same time, “Sam” emailed reviewers, claiming to be my niece and that she had permission to use my story because she’d given me the idea, but she couldn’t tell me who she was because her family didn’t know she wrote about sex and she would get kicked out of her church and lose her husband. Meghen from Thirty Second Book Reviews send me this copy.
As you guessed, “Sam” and I are not related. To my knowledge we haven’t even met. Kira is my real niece.
So I went public in order to discover her identity, and when I did the harassment increased. Numerous one-star reviews appeared on my novels under my real and pen names (see the screenshots for these below my post).
Plagiarist Uses False Identities, To Harass Reviewers Who Speak Against Her
(Last name has been redacted because the name came from a real person.)
Plagiarist Identified as Tiffanie Rushton, a Third-Grade Teacher from Layton, Utah
Volunteer investigators came forward and tracked "Sam" down and discovered her identity, but copyright is a civil not criminal case and it is horrendously expensive to prosecute. Making her stop stealing and harassing me seemed impossible. Then New York Times bestselling author David Farland recommended starting a Go Fund Me account.
I File Complaint In Federal Court—Harassment Continues
Yet even after filing a complaint in federal court, the harassment continued. Posts on Facebook, public and private. Posts here on the Go Fund Me, saying it was a scam—all by Rushton’s known aliases. (Name of first redacted because, again, it was from a real person.)
The account below changed from Jennifer Booklover to Jennifer Greer and then was deleted by Facebook.
Rushton also accepted responsibility for the one-star reviews under this alias (part of real person's stolen name redacted).
Every day I was doing something to protect myself, taking screenshots, communicating with attorneys, deleting posts, asking Amazon to take down her reviews, trying to find books to put into fundraising sets, etc. Even when I had a slice of time, working was impossible because of the emotional upheaval. I felt terror every time I turn on my computer for fear of what I would find next.
But That's NOT All—She Stole From A Combat Veteran
Then, shockingly, we discovered that in her first book, she’d also plagiarized the REAL LIFE story of Chase Weston, a disabled veteran who served in Iraq in 2005 with the 3rd Infantry Division. His wife Lilah writes:
“The story that Sam Taylor Mullens/ Tiffanie Rushton copied was an account of one of the worst days of Chase’s life. The original draft of Terror in a Cloud of Dust was written by Chase during a trauma workshop at ‘Pathway Home,’ which is a residential rehabilitation program for returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who suffer from clinically diagnosed and progressive PTSD. It took a lot for Chase to put his story down on paper, he did however want to heal from the events and felt that he might help some of the other Soldiers who were trying to do the same . . . My husband feels this to be a personal attack on his character, his service, and to the Military—every soldier and family member affected by these events.”
Rushton Vows To Republish Hasty Resolutions
But there is still even more to the story . . .
She Stole From Children
A few bloggers posted a list of 20+ fake IDs that we believed Rushton had created, and a parent identified them as the REAL NAMES of her daughter and the other children in Rushton’s last year’s 3rd grade class!
They compared the yearbook and, sure enough, twelve full and partial names of real children (mostly full names) had been stolen to review Rushton’s novels and other explicit books.
That's why I redacted Abby, Emma's, Gibson's, and Aubrey's last names above. They are REAL CHILDREN, as is Hannah from the Goodreads one-star reviews. At least one parent said Rushton had also use the children’s email addresses to create the accounts (see below).
A parent reported that school officials removed Rushton from the classroom and promised that she would not teach again in Davis County School District.
She Posed As A Parent Of The Children Whose Names She Stole
Days later, Rushton posted on my blog and others, pretending to be a parent of one of the children and asking that all the blogs be removed. But the IP address showed the email came from Rushton’s computer. Parents confirmed to me that they did not write the post and that the comments didn’t represent their feelings.
(Another fake parent review under the alias"K" was also posted on Mr. Doppler's site, coming again from Rushton's computer.)
These were fake parent comments posted on my site shortly before and after midnight just prior to the comments on the above John Doppler blog:
Then A Slap In The Face
The school district came out with a statement that Rushton left due to KNEE SURGERY.
The betrayal I feel that they could cover this up to is so vast, I can’t even write it. It makes me wonder if anyone cares what this woman is doing.
She Stole. She used children. She used deception and cunning to cover it up. She refuses to take responsibility.
I believe in redemption. I believe in forgiveness, but I don’t believe that I have to give this woman my work or let her attack me. She has turned my life upside down. She tried to discredit and hurt me. I feel as if she's broken into my home and stolen something very dear to me.
I lost nearly six months of my life where I wasn't able to get back to work. THAT'S RIGHT. NO WRITING. Which means she's stolen far more than just one book from me. I still have trouble sleeping and concentrating. I suffer panic attacks. The biggest devastation is how my children have suffered while watching me go through this. In a very real way she robbed my family of something vital.
My Plan To Get My Life Back And Protect Others
This is a new breed of plagiarist. They believe they can get away with victimizing authors who don’t have large publishers or who have yet to become world-wide sensations. The truth is that all authors are at risk, and this is becoming a huge problem because they wait until the dust settles and republish the books. I want to Rushton and other plagiarists like her to know that they can be prosecuted and held accountable.
The only way I have of ending this is going before a judge and jury to show them the evidence. Veteran Chase Weston and others involved have agreed to offer any support they can, and we have drawn a line in the sand.
No One Can Stop Her Alone
A jury trial is horribly expensive, BUT Shawn P. Bailey of Peck, Hadfield, Bexter, and Moore has agreed to work on my case for an affordable rate. As a fellow author, he hates what has happened to me. Even after a successful lawsuit, recovering costs from those committing fraud, is next to impossible, but the court will MAKE HER STOP.
Please Help Me Stop This Madness
I am SO GRATEFUL for the donations so far. There is no way I could have come up with estimated 130,000-250,000 for a typical jury trial, but thanks to Shawn and the support from the community, this will happen! We are going to send a message to all would-be plagiarists that plagarism is nothing more than stealing, and SUCH BEHAVIOR IS NOT OKAY.
Please consider donating what you can, perhaps on a monthly basis until the trial. At the very least, if you can’t donate, please email your friends or spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, and other means. You can do that right now by using the share buttons. Thank you!
Thank you for listening,
Rachel Ann Nunes
P.S. For a thank you, you can choose an award level of an ebook, or just a cyber hug! I will send all award levels within a week. I also send a note to everyone who donates. Please contact me if you don’t hear from me. Some email servers will reject email from Go Fund Me. If you choose something that I have to mail to you, please include your street address.
Rushton's stolen book on sale:
Reviews of my books from Rushton's Amazon account:
The same account at the same URL as above after the reviews were deleted by Amazon (note the brief change to the Jennifer Greer name, the same Jennifer who bashed me as a fake reviewer, on Facebook, and who gave me a one-star review on Goodreads back in May):
Reviews of my books from one of Rushton's aliases:
Comments from the Thirty Second Review blog as Rushton defends herself with aliases Mercedes and Abby:
Comparison. The only way she could have come up with "her" novel is to have started with mine.
And so it goes on throughout the entire book . . .
A Bid for Love, my book that was plagiarized:
After years of slow motion, my attorney, Shawn P. Bailey, will be very busy in the next few months getting the case ready. I'm grateful for his long hours (to the tune of over $200,000) many of which will never be reimbursed fully. In the meantime, we've agreed to a mediation hearing in good faith, though given past experience with the opposition, I am not all that hopeful for a resolution before the trial, but you never know. I am so grateful to have Shawn taking care of the many, many details involved.
And thank you also for your continued support! I could never have obtained a legal decision about the defendant stealing my book or taking the case this far without the support from the writing community. So THANK YOU! We're getting close to the home stretch.
I'm pleased to say that the judge agrees Rushton is liable for copyright infringement. You can read more details about what motions we won or didn't win here: https://rachelannnunes.com/summary-judgment-in-nunes-vs-rushton-copyright-infringement-case/.
At this point we still have the trial to determine two remaining issues, but I feel this is a big win for all of us. I am grateful for your support that has helped bring the case this far.
I want to add that my attorney Shawn Bailey has worked hard and tirelessly on this case and has been a true defender of authors everywhere.
This case also wouldn't have come this far without support from you, the reading and writing community! Thank you! You have buoyed me when I was beaten and encouraged when I had no where to turn. It is something I will never forget. I'll post again soon!
However, there have been recent developments. To recap, earlier this year in January, we had a court date to present our motions for summary judgment. That was halted when Rushton declared bankruptcy. Even when the bankruptcy court gave us permission to continue our case in federal court, the federal court chose not to act on our copyright case all these months. A week ago, however, I learned that the bankruptcy court dismissed Rushton’s bankruptcy case altogether. I do not know the reason for this, but now we are hoping this will mean that the federal court will rule on our motions for summary judgment. At this point, the judge could review the thick binders of evidence and make a ruling, or could reschedule the hearing for our attorneys to present the case. After which the judge would still have several months to review the evidence binders and to rule.
As you can imagine, I’m hoping for a resolution. I very much want to put this behind me. The worry and stress, though less than in the beginning, is always at the back of my mind. Each day that drags on mean more expenses. That year I lost—the black year—I will never get back, but I have moved forward mentally. I definitely want this over! So please send good thoughts my way for a quick resolution.
Thank you for the great support and the kind comments. I sincerely could not have endured this without the support from the writing and reading community. I am humbled by your help. I will update when I hear anything more. I hope you have a great week!
For you, and for all ethical, honest authors everywhere, I hope this can get resolved soon, Rachel, and that this plagiarist can face justice and pay for what she's done. Not just the plagiarism itself, but for every other unethical, and hurtful thing she's done to you and others. I hope, for her sake that she learns not to do this sort of thing any more. And I hope it serves as a deterrent to other would-be plagiarists.