"Reputation management" companies apparently induce randos to perjure themselves by pretending to be anonymous posters


#1

[Read the post]


#2

The stupid part is, it won’t work. Yelp is not the only way people communicate. Weird but true!


#3

Do we even know if the defendants claiming to have authored the allegedly defamatory posts are even actual people? The article at pissed consumer says that at least one of the plaintiff companies doesn’t actually exist as claimed in court documents. It seems possible that some of the defendants could be entirely fictional as well, with the plaintiff’s attorney’s submitting purported sworn affidavits without producing an actual body. Though I suppose that would involved a fake notarization. Perhaps the plaintiff’s lawyer’s have a line they won’t cross? Kidding, kidding. But, I’d like to see the notary’s log book for all of the notarized affidavits by defendants in these cases.

It would be interesting to check the court calendar for the attorney’s names and sit in the audience for their next similar hearing to see if any defendants show up and if they are represented by council - by which I mean, not effing likely.


#4

The Google delisting actually works pretty well given how many people, including myself, use it as the first and possibly last part of a general search. Google delisting can be pretty insidious given that many websites use a Google script as the search box on their website, so de-listing means that their website search box won’t bring up the results. Fortunately for Rippoff Report, they aren’t using Google for their on site search.


#5

This is like a Mafia protection scheme—but with the Mafia play-threatening and play-protecting only those who have already paid.

How long until they realize they can extort more by threatening to ruin reputations if they aren’t paid?


#6

As they say, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.

While it would be nice if everyone obeyed the rules, the reality of the world is, some people will do whatever they can get away with doing, especially if money is involved.

On the bright side, at least the crappy companies hiring the firms to purge the complaints have to lose a little bit of money. Granted, it’d be better if they lost a bit of money trying to make things right for their customers, not losing money to enrich shady lawyers to deceive potential new customers. One tactic would be to somehow increase the cost of the “bad” option so that losing money to make things right with customers becomes the cheaper solution.

It reminds me of that scene in Fight Club where he talks about the cost-benefit analysis of paying off victims of defective products vs. doing a recall. The only way the “right” thing happens is when it’s the cheaper option.


#7

#8

Could someone please explain what a “randos” is?

The word isn’t used again in the post, but I presume a “randos” is somehow related to this sentence

…getting random people to claim to be the anonymous posters in question, ,"

Or I could be utterly wrong. A single sentence somewhere in the post explaining the jargonistic hed word “randos” (yes, I just made up “jargonistic” and misused “hed”) would have helped me understand the author’s point.

Jargon can be good for conciseness, but can limit the ability to reach to new audiences.

Thank you for any help.


#9

I actually like the use of slang and stylistic writing. It makes it more interesting to read/staves off my ADHD monkey. If you strip out any of that, I might as well be reading the article on a mainstream news site.


#10

For biting strippers?


#11

Thank you Carl. I appreciate your help. But the Urban Dictionary definition (which I had already checked") doesn’t clarify.

My interpretation of the process as described by Corey is that first negative comments are identified for removal by reputational management firm (RPM). Next, individuals who aren’t the original poster of the negative comment accept ownership of the comment at the behest of the RPM, and these “randos” subsequently consent to the removal of the negative comment by the RPM.

But that hardly sounds “random.” If this were an illegal activity “co-conspirator” would be the term of art. Is the RPM randomly picking humans beings from across the internet to ascribe ownership to? That seems unlikely.

To my understanding, people who are “not previously identified,” or “incorrectly self-identified” are not random people. When I get on the bus, my fellow passengers are generally “randos.” But the bus driver isn’t, even though I don’t know her. She has a clear role in the operation assigned to her by the folks in charge of the bus line.

The role ascribed to the “randos” seems more like the bus driver ( ie. a participant in the operation) than a passenger (ie. some just along for the ride.)

Yet Corey is a smart dude and a professional writer. Maybe his use of jargon is meant to convey something more? Alas, give that the jargon isn’t unpacked, I’m just not sure.

p.s. I’m fine with the slang. It’s fun to learn new things. I just wish the slang was used with more clarity, so I could learn from usage.


#12

In this case I believe the reason “rando” is being used is because the idea is that these people have nothing to do with the initial complaint. They’re “random” people that the reputation management company has pulled off the street to fulfill a goal. They can’t officially be connected to the scheme because if they were, it would be traceable. That, at least, is what I’ve gathered from this headline.

The idea is that they don’t care who they’re going after for the comment, any “rando” will do. Does that help? ^^


#13

That’s my take.

Part of the problem is that most everyone officially writing about this is likely wary of getting sued by a bunch of litigious and ethically challenged lawyers.

My impression of the way these suits could work is this:

  • Bad Company hires Lawyers to scrub negative posts from the web any way possible
  • Lawyers select random, anonymously authored negative post about Bad Company on Ripoff Report
  • Lawyers pay random stranger to claim to have written post, agree to be sued, and then take a dive
  • Lawyers win court order, show the order to Google and have Ripoff Report subdomain with all negative reports about Bad Company delisted.

I have no knowledge of whether that is actually what happened, but it seems plausible based on the information uncovered by pissedconsumer.

However, how would you find people who would agree to be sued? Sure, using strangers means a tie to you is harder to spot than if you use relatives, friends or associates ("Wow! What a coincidence! My BIL just happens to have written the post I’m suing over on behalf of a corporation!), but it also makes it more likely that the scheme will be reveled than if it is kept “in the family.” Another possibility is that the defendants are made up completely and that the affidavits and notarization are completely fraudulent.

Again, I have no inside knowledge as to whether that happened. And, I suppose, it is possible that the lawyers really did manage to sue on behalf of multiple companies and some how manage to find out the identities of multiple anonymous posters complaining about different companies, all without subpoenaing a 3d party, and they just all happened to be sueable in Contra Costa County… :smirk:


#14

The part of this process that would tend to reveal that something is afoot is that there are few to no services that allow people to post 100% anonymously, since around ten years ago. I can create a gmail account using an obfuscated name and use that to post reviews on google maps. But Google can easily track down my identity. So if a shyster lawyer calls Google and says that John McDoe admitted to posting my review and it has to be taken down… Wouldn’t it be fairly obvious to Google that it wasn’t his articulately crafted prose?
I’m likely to be sniped at for using Google in this example. I’m taking a winger and assuming that they might pay more careful attention to a legal intervention than tens of thousands of users wailing in the wilderness for technical support…


#15

I know of a number of places that allow anon comments. The entire Gawker family of sites come to mind. I can’t tell without signing up whether pissedconsumer has double opt in or not, so I don’t know if you need a valid email to create an account.

Unless it is on Google+ I’d say "no,"and even then if Google were to confirm the author using inside data it could a public privacy faux pas.

I think Google does have some leeway because Google isn’t actually a party to the order, but they take down so many URLs based on DMCA claims (even though links aren’t content, they are just the address to content) that taking down a URL based on the findings of a court is not that big a deal to them - however, I do wonder why they would just knuckle under on this but fight the EUs Right to be Forgotten laws so hard? Because this is the same thing. Perhaps because Right to be Forgotten doesn’t require a court order, so it is a bigger threat? Dunno…

What I wonder is if a lawyer were to hire a stranger to be the fall guy in a lawsuit, would they have a written contract? How could anyone trust a crooked lawyer not to decide to sue them for real? Seems like getting into bed with a shark is just a really bad idea.

Also, I wonder if these lawyers all watch Better Call Saul as an instructional video series?


#16

This sounds like boring BS. Has anyone ever had legal action taken on them because of an internet comment, or know of anyone who has???


#17

Fraud on the court is boring?

http://definitions.uslegal.com/f/fraud-on-the-court/


#18

So these Reputation Management companies are taking “sock puppetry” to levels that Jim Henson could only dream of.


#19

I know, I know. And Mr. Smith Goes to Washington needs more car chases and explosions.

/s

I don’t know anyone who’s been charged with Espionage, yet I find the whole Edward Snowden scandal fascinating. This, too. This is a legal detective story, with what appears to be wicked villains doing dastardly deeds bold as you please.

I’m gonna take a wild guess that you weren’t an avid reader of Groklaw… I:smirk: I miss that site…and Zombie SCO still isn’t dead.


#20

Certainly wouldn’t hurt.