The Ripoff Report ‘Business Model’
Ripoff Report is a privately owned for profit website that purports to be representing consumer interests. One of the most contentious websites on the internet, Ripoff Report admits that it publishes false information about individuals and businesses.
The Ripoff Report editor, Ed Magedson has been exploiting the website’s high Google page rank for close to 15 years.
Chikita noted that the highly sought after top spot in a Google search for a product or service obtains 35% of the traffic. A website that jumps from the top of page 2 to the bottom of page 1 in the Google index can increase its traffic by 150%. A recent Google sponsored survey found:
- Nine out of ten smartphone searches results in an action (purchasing, visiting a business, etc.)
- 24% recommended a brand or product to others as a result of a smartphone search
The website founder, Ed Magedson has quite a history of questionable activities. Detailed information about Magedson’s criminal past is available on Paladin PI’s blog. Magedson also has a history of paedophilia. James Rogers, Eric Skelling & David Bedore were all sexual victims of Ed Magedson. Rodgers was only 16 years old when he was groomed!
Magedson pays others to do his dirty work including writers to create content. One of his most recent ‘writers’, Darren M Meade created a video detailing all the ‘work’ paid by Magedson before they had a disagreement about money. Audio of a conversation between Magedson and one of his former writers, an actor named Danny Scalf shows that this was not the first disagreement about money for creating content.
A US Judge referred to discovery in which a Ripoff Report employee, Danny Scalf, attempted to sell lists of consumers to class actions attorney’s for USD$800,000. Scalf is on audio talking impersonating a CIA officer. Audio of Scalf trying to convince the FBI that they can illegally hack into peoples private e-mail accounts by using the passwords provided to RipoffReport.com is available here.
The website states that it does not remove material, even if it can be proven to be false or if the author requests removal. This is a lie. Magedson removes reports about himself. Ripoff Report also has a long history of removing reports for altering the content for a substantial payment.
Because it is given a high page rank in the Google SERPS, many companies pay the exorbitant fees to participate in the Corporate Advocacy Program (CAP) in order to have their ‘reputation rehabilitated’. This cost schedule for the CAP was entered into evidence in a US court case. This amounts to between USD $7,500 and $20,500 plus a monthly fee.
In 2011 a US judgement labelled the website’s business practices as ‘appalling’:
The business practices of Xcentric, as presented by the evidence before this Court, are appalling. Xcentric appears to pride itself on having created a forum for defamation. No checks are in place to ensure that only reliable information is publicized. Xcentric retains no general counsel to determine whether its users are availing themselves of its services for the purpose of tortious or illegal conduct.
Even when, as here, a user regrets what she has posted and takes every effort to retract it, Xcentric refuses to allow it. Moreover, Xcentric insists in its brief that its policy is never to remove a post. It will not entertain any scenario in which, despite the clear damage that a defamatory or illegal post would continue to cause so long as it remains on the website, Xcentric would remove an offending post.
Ripoff Report was recently exposed as one of the worse websites in the US on The O’Reilly Factor. Its lawyers got the segment removed but we have published it under the fair use copyright doctrine. This is usual practice for Ed Magedson: Use legal means to gag critics (while purporting to fight for the First Amendment right of freedom of speech) and then write vile garbage about those who stand up to them on Ripoff Report.
Ripoff Report: Damage and Vengeance
Ripoff Report also has no compunction about publishing the identities and photographs of minors as well as content that is clearly offensive, homophobic, racist, illegal as well as content that demeans women and exposes children to danger. The impact of Ripoff Report’s Google enabled racket of reputation assassination and cyberbullying for profit is catastrophic. Many parents have pleaded with Ripoff Report and Google to at least remove the identifying details about their children without success.
Many ordinary people cannot pay $10,000 per webpage that falsely names them as ‘paedophiles’, ‘whores’, ‘murderers’, ‘skanks’ and ‘drug abusers’ and face global public humiliation, the ruin of their careers and businesses, and have to live with the fear that their children will be harmed or cyberbullied. Individuals, families and small businesses are rendered socially, vocationally, emotionally and financially paralysed by this criminal operation.
The despair caused by Magedson is reflected in the comments on the petition to Google to remove the website (mouse over view next to the comments). It is clear from this article in Forbes that Magedson enjoys the pain that he inflicts.
Anyone who challenges Madgeson on his methods of extortion, including me, has found that they are suddenly the subject of further content on Ripoff Report or that the number of reports or links to reports suddenly multiply and old material gains new life in the Google search engine results page (SERPs). If this sounds ‘far fetched’ please download read the evidence in the documents in the State of Iowa vs Xcentric Ventures here.
Some victims have reported that Ripoff Report has offered to remove the false reports about their businesses for a fee that amounts to thousands of dollars. They have has always denied these allegations. However, evidence unsealed by the State of Iowa proves that Ripoff Report, Ed Magedson, and the website attorneys Jaburg & Wilk have, for years, been involved in, and cognisant of, the use of the website and its high Google page rank to obtain financial benefit.
Ripoff Report has attempted to sue a US attorney to stop the investigation into its criminal activities. This is due to go to trial in Iowa in May 2017. Ripoff Report will lose and then all hell will break lose!
Ripoff Report Verified Safe?
Some of the companies that have paid Ripoff Report to be ‘verified safe’ have been indicted and prosecuted in both Australia and the US and listed as defendants in class action cases. It is clear that by paying Ripoff Report businesses are able to disguise that they are a danger to consumers.
The company, ‘Storesonline (IMergent’) has 400 reports with the Ripoff Report endorsement of ‘verified safe’. Yet, while it was apparently ‘verified safe’ by Ripoff Report, this company was hauled into court in 2010 by the ACCC for breaching the Trade Practices Act. Moreover the judgement from the Federal Court found that StoresOnline failed to comply with undertakings provided to the ACCC on 24 April 2006 under section 87B of the Trade Practices Act 1974. This company was also faced with class actions suits in Texas and Utah while it was apparently ‘verified safe’.
Direct Buy was the defendant in a class action lawsuit while Ripoff Report was promising consumers that it was (paid) verified safe. By 2012 the company was no longer a member of the Ripoff Report Corporate Advocacy Program although evidence of its involvement can still be found in consumer comments.
If a company that is ‘verified safe’ by Ripoff Report is indicted for fraud, the website simply drops it from the corporate advocacy program. Of course, this does not help consumers who used the ‘verified safe’ to decide to spend or invest their money.
One example is George S May International. It joined the CAP in 2006 with more than 60 reports.
By 2011 George S May had folded. This was preceded by years of decline marked by consumer online complaints. But it was only Ripoff Report that praised its business practices – for a hefty fee, of course.
Another example is the company, Bankcard Empire. It too was verified safe right up until the owner was indicted for fraud.
Of course, if one happens to own Google, demands to are quickly met by the website. In a US legal document the alteration of the name of a Google founder, Sergey Brin on a Ripoff Report that alleged he has inappropriate contact with a minor was included in an affidavit.