Sunday, 8 April 2007

Scam sites and the bowels of the Net.

Ever been to page 1000 of your chosen search on Google or Yahoo? I have,and further beyond. I have been trying to find out the characters involved in the murky world of scam crusader sites, like and It became a depressing look into the dirty underbelly of the Internet.

When surfing the web we tend to spend our days wandering through the top ranked pages on search engines and enjoying a utopia of corporate web sites and beautiful imagery, which would keep us under the impression that the web is wonderful shiny place of innovation and free speech, all Youtube and Myspace.

Look deep enough and further enough into a subject such as and you will find a place that is infested with html disaster sites and murky characters all scrapping for traffic and protecting their outward veneer of respectability, while all the time battling with each other in the background arguing which of these would be corporate assassins is the the most trustworthy.

I have to say, just writing about it makes me want to have a shower. When people start to call each other 'Internet Terrorists' and "Low-level monkey boy' (I kid you not), isn't it time that the web had a clear out?

"Low level Monkey Boy" was apparently aimed at one James Landrith who was accused of owning, but who denies it fervently. This guy is an ex-gulf war vet who campaigns for racial equality! Low level monkey boy! I think not. (He is also extremely eloquent, take a look at the posts on scamfraudalert and make your own judgement as to the eloquence of the site administrator, my lips are sealed).

This is just the kind of unintelligent verbal diarrhoea that comes from these so called crusaders who are the first to champion free speech, but at the first sign of criticism bite back with, more often than not, made up accusations and threats of law suits. I dare you to spend time as I have done, trawling the web to see who is behind these sites, and then spend the next day looking into all the allegations that are being made about these people and where it leads you. I don't mind telling you, it is a depressing place to be. Imagine being on the beach at Ipanema basking in the beautiful Rio Sun and then visiting a favella, where good honest people struggle to live in an infested wasteland among thieves and criminals, and you will have some idea of the difference between Google page 1 and Google page 1000 and the murky world inhabited by these so called scam crusader sites.

This is part of the game for these sites however. Once a company is defamed on a scam site the page rank for that will, inevitably, be above that of the company itself, virtually neutering the web as a marketing tool for that company. Indeed, they even change the meta tags within individual posts! These are changed to include the company's name who they are lambasting, according to one email we have had. We also did a quick look up and it appears to be the case, although we don't know if this process is somehow automated, from what we have heard, its not, which means that these pages are being changed specifically by the 'webmaster' in order to be highly ranked on the search engines for the names of the companies they are targeting... doesn't this seem a bit odd to you?

It also nullifies the argument of hiding behind the law that protects publishers such as ISP's. If these scam sites have input into a topic (and changing the meta tags would surely be input) then they will get caught, arguing that they are merely publishers, will not fly.

While ensuring their search engine rankings are great for their victims posts, they also are very adept at burying bad information on the sites and their owners in the bowels of the Net, hence my travels there.

However, just like, eventually, a blind squirrel will find nuts in a forest, these scam sites inevitably have genuine scams posted on them. These do save people from becoming victims, but surely this shotgun approach is just laziness in executing a worthwhile cause. Wouldn't it just be easier to do it properly and research each accusation?

For genuine companies who appear on these sites it can result in thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars down the toilet, "all because some dirty filthy coward did not do his research properly".

These are the angry words of a CEO we spoke with whose company has appeared on one of the scam web sites. "We have spent around $400,000 creating the structure of the company and the initial marketing. We have identifiably lost $500,000 in contracts and much more in reputational terms and the business that would bring in."

When asked if they would be going after the scam site concerned. "You bet" was the only answer that we could could coax out, initially, then we got him warmed up.

Having explained that the owner of the site probably did not have any money and it could, according to sites such as, cost up to $100,000 to get the case to court and that, even if they won, they would be the enemy of these so called crusader sites for ever, the response was:

"A well researched scam site with a method of rebuttal and some identifiable place of business and someone to sue, is a valuable tool, because it is truthful and honest, it has to be, or you will be on the end of a law suit. These scam sites are not like this. The person running the site that we are on can only be one of three things, an idiot who does not know what he is doing, a blackmailer hoping to get some money out of us, or a mixture of the two. This person has put our reputation on the line, our ability to do business in the future without being tainted by lies, but worst of all this person has put the livelihood of our staff at risk. This is unacceptable and we do not put a financial limit on it. If the other scam sites want to take us on for defending ourselves, then we will see them in court too."

It appears that this particular businessman is a little hot under the collar and has vengeance in his blood, but will he really spend money chasing down the owner of a web site? What then?

"Justice will take its course, but we suspect that we will sue for a multi million dollar case" When we pointed out, again, that this guy is probably a nerd with computer, a skateboard and a dog and little else, our CEO says "He has had his opportunity, we tried to be nice. We will take his computer and skateboard at the bankruptcy court, if he does not do it again, we may let him keep his dog."

He continued "The music business is taking 12 year old's to court for illegal downloads, not because they want to to take their pocket money, but because they want to send a message, and that message is 'downloading copyrighted material is illegal, if we will take a 12 year old to court, we will do it to you'. That's kind of how we view this situation, who ever is behind this site will not get off lightly, that time has passed, we are going for him or the organisation that is behind this site and making them pay for their arrogance. We intend to make a statement that anything said about our company that is not researched and incorrect will result in a court case, period.

Although a little harsh and the journalist in us naturally sides with the little guy (and the dog) we can see how this, frankly inconsequential part of cyber space, has really affected the moral of the businessman in question.

When building a business reputation is everything and page one of Google is pretty much your reputation in ten titles and if a couple of those titles say "Scam" your marketing money is gone.

Being able to defend your reputation has been possible until the advent of the Net, where defamation lawlessness is rife if you don't have the money to defend yourself. Even if you do have the money and the will to follow the cyber trail to its ultimate destination and clear your name, do you think it possible that the person will give up writing on the Net? No he/she will surface again, under another name and carry on. You will have yourself a cyberstalker.

Still the CEO we interviewed seems undeterred and having the resources and the determination to pursue whomever has caused the problems, it looks to us that this company may yet cause the unmasking of another so called scambuster and some cracking stories.

And we have the exclusive...role on Google page 1.

Do really own!!!!!! Please, tell us it aint so....

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