A best-selling Scottish writer has described his sadness and disappointment at becoming the victim of bad reviews posted online by another writer using a false name.

Stuart MacBride, best known for his Logan McRae detective series set in Aberdeen, was given poor reviews on the online store Amazon by RJ Ellory, who posted them using an alias, or "sock puppeting".

Ellory, exposed by fellow writer Jeremy Duns on Twitter, has apologised but several well-known authors such as Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Lee Child have now condemned "fraudulent" writers caught praising their own work on Amazon.

The trio, who have sold millions of novels, signed an open letter attacking the use of fake identities.

Yesterday Mr MacBride, whose latest paperback, Birthdays for the Dead, was released last week by HarperCollins, said he had been saddened by the "regrettable" affair, and although he has met Mr Ellory once, had no idea the bad reviews were by the writer.

"I had read them, and I thought they were by a member of the public who had taken an extreme visceral dislike to my books," he said.

"I do my best to avoid reading reviews online, because a good review only makes you feel good for an hour, but a bad review can linger with you for months.

"This is a very sad story, and to be honest, I don't think you could do your reputation any more harm than to be found doing this."

He said he suspected the reviews may have influenced readers, adding: "They do have an influence. If you go online to buy a remote control for your television and there's a one-star review or a five-star review, you know which one you are going to pick."

The open letter, which was also signed by Mark Billingham and Jo Nesbo, said it was "likely that other authors are pursuing these underhand tactics as well".

It added: "These days more and more books are bought, sold, and recommended online, and the health of this exciting new ecosystem depends entirely on free and honest conversation among readers.

"But some writers are misusing these new channels in ways that are fraudulent and damaging to publishing at large."

In a statement last night, Ellory said: "The recent reviews – both positive and negative – that have been posted on my Amazon accounts are my responsibility and my responsibility alone. I wholeheartedly regret the lapse of judgment that allowed personal opinions to be disseminated in this way and I would like to apologise to my readers and the writing community."

Under the pseudonym Nicodemus Jones, Ellory called his own novel A Quiet Belief in Angels a "modern masterpiece" and said readers should "just buy it, read it and make up your own mind", because "whatever else it might do, it will touch your soul".

MacBride's work Dark Blood was given one star by Ellory, with the book described as "another in the seemingly endless parade of same-old-same-old police procedurals that seem to abound in the UK".

The Crime Writers Association has issued a statement that says it plans to set up a code of ethics to cover "the practice of authors assuming fake identities on blogs, Twitter or Amazon to promote their own work, and in some cases, allegedly give bad reviews to that of other writers".