Facebook, MSNBC, Jesse Willms’ Swipe Auctions and Doctored Photos

Introduction

Readers of these pages will need no introduction to Jesse Willms, self-proclaimed philanthropist and former purveyor of counterfeit software.

But in the interests of traceability into the continuing insidious nature of the on-line marketplace, here’s a run-through of how to get from Facebook or MSNBC to Jesse Willms’ SwipeAuction (formerly SwipeBids), including a few screen-dumps of the dubious methods employed.

p.s. I could equally well run through the links from any spam I get today to Fox News to BidCactus or whatever.  Okay?

(p.s. SwipeAuctions is no more, the SwipeBids domain expires soon and rumours are rife about a possible new auction site.  Watch this space.)

MSNBC to Willms

This MSNBC page that Joseph spotted http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39118941/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/ had a different set of ads when I looked.  Indeed, just like this website the ads rotate.  What was interesting is that they still went back to Willms’s based websites via fake news websites.

First, there were three ads in the bottom right when I viewed the page.  Refreshing the page shoves out two or three.  They rotate daily, but tend to stay the same on a given day.  The three images are the websites I’ve been taken to…

Site 1

Site 2

Site 3

It’s important to note the similarity between Site 2 & Site 3.

Because they both use the image of the French TV newsreader Mélissa Theuriau!

In the first she’s “Karen Simpson” and in the second she’s “Julia Miller”.

These are affiliate websites of unknown ownership.   Take a look at the car “won” by the woman in the advert.

Fake Car Auction

Car...and woman!

To save you time, this is the car and woman full size.

Now take a close look (it doesn’t need to be very close actually!) at the woman and the car mirror.  Does it seem a bit odd?  Well it does to me!

Using the TinEye plugin for Firefox allow one to trawl the web for similar images.  In this case it comes up trumps!

Because the image is obviously a composite one.  This is the TinEye search:

http://www.tineye.com/search/83bfb2d5784c45b67b0e780943a4a032bf6c4814/

Original car - no woman!

It pulls out six instances of the image used elsewhere on the web.  The URL for this one is:

http://autoleasetransfer.com/photos/actual144203/150×112/Honda-Civic-EX-Sedan.jpeg

Car Auction Conclusion

"I love to play"

Well pretty obviously it says in the image above that the woman “Samantha Warren” from Florida “won” that Honda car in one of Jesse’s “auctions”. (remember these details – they’re important for later)

(p.s. Since being written, these car pictures have been seen on even more fake news websites, all of unknown ownership.)

SwipeAuctions now have pictures on the landing page right next to his bold claim about helping 112+ children worldwide, where people say they “love to play” on the website.  See the “Anita P” screenshot from today.

(note from editor and US FTC: you can play a game, like a lottery or any other game of chance; you cannot play an auction!  The bold claim of this and many other Bid Auction websites is that it’s part ‘entertainment’, which may be so, but it’s still gambling.)

Facebook to Willms

Facebook ads this morning

Three ads were showing on the right of my Facebook page.  If you’re on Facebook, then you’ll have seen similar.

The first one was for a tips-laden army-type audio-visual that ends up wanting money to stay slim.

But one showed a woman who’d just won an iPad for £26.75.  yep.  It was  SwipeAuctions.  (p.s. these ads later disappeared to be replaced by other bid auctions sites for a time, although they’re now currently almost unseen.)

Honda Car – a co-incidence?

Another Honda?  From Florida?

Another Honda? From Florida?

A neat photo from the front page shows a guy, “Pbh201″, mysteriously and co-incidentally (surely) from Florida, again winning a car.   The model?  Well Honda, of course!

Unfortunately, and for now, TinEye has not pulled out any image duplications.  But on past form, who’s to say what might pop up?  (p.s. later information has appeared which shows this Honda ‘win’ from various ‘angles’ – more later.)

Judge?

I’ve edited this post from the original following threats from Jesse Willms legal representative.   Currently there is a legal case against CTV  for showing these videos on television.  Part of the remit is that CTV misrepresented Willms’ businesses and said that 60% were his when they weren’t.

Given that the affilaites’ websites are there to promote businesses and yet are on the whole anonymous, my opinion is that the TV show displayed information in the way that “the common man” would interpret these things.  If the common man is very easily confused, then that is a problem but ultimately the person that benefits from deceptive advertising must shoulder some of the responsibility for their contractors’ behaviour, should they not?

Judge for yourself.

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23 responses .

  1. Strangely says:

    Being not unfamiliar with CompetitionCafe on moneysavingexpert.com, I'll reproduce part of this comment here as the two photo-links demonstrate the fake news site and SwipeAuction/Bids ethos quite well…

    funny how this one says the guy won a car on Jumbobids while this one says the same guy won the same car on Swipebids.

    And for the gambling aspect of it all, these two posts from the last couple of years for not-dissimilar "bidding" operations explain everything very well:

    http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/12/profitabhttp://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2009/05/penny-au

    From these, you can see the desperation that Willms is in as he struggles to put a bold, clean face onto what is essentially, a murky, illegal, scam.

  2. Not Kevin says:

    Well it wouldn't be the first time Jesse Willms had swiped a photo and used it without permission!

    http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=931816… (3:35)

    http://abcnews.go.com/2020/beware-trick-photograp

  3. Not Kevin says:

    More PR puff and nonsense from Swipe Auctions this morning:

    "A group of expert reviewers from Review Master has launched a website to allow Swipe Auctions customers to provide their own reviews of the popular penny auction site.

    The site, swipeauctions-review.com, was created to collect user reviews of the Swipe Auctions site. The site owners believe they can make the swipeauction-review.com site profitable through advertising partnerships and the growing interest in Swipe Auctions."

    prweb.com/releases/2010/10/prweb4600924.htm

    Do they now. Funny that the whois info for their website is identical to that for Swipe Auctions:
    ‘http://whois.domaintools.com/swipeauctions.com
    ‘http://whois.domaintools.com/swipeauctions-review…

    So that's a site for reviews of swipeauctions, pretending to be impartial and unrelated but actually owned by swipeauctions! Well I am sure we know what kind of "reviews" will show up there then.

    In any case (real) Swipe Auctions customers seem to have had no problem in finding real review sites to leave their real (uncensored) reviews:
    http://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.swipebids.chttp://www.sitejabber.com/reviews/www.swipeauctio

  4. Not Kevin says:

    Meanwhile a penny auction site called PennyBiddr has attracted the attention of the Washington Attorney General – he was so unimpressed by their business model that he got them to agree to shut down the site and "refund every consumer who paid for a bid on PennyBiddr". The owner will also "pay $8,000 to reimburse the Attorney General’s Office for legal costs. He is prohibited from using a penny auction site to generate income again."

    http://emailinternetscams.blogspot.com/2010/09/pe

    PennyBiddr is (was) small scale compared to the Swipe Auctions shenanigans – perhaps the Washington Attorney General should now turn his attention to SwipeAuctions. In any case it's a sign that the authorities are beginning to take notice of penny auctions…"the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit began investigating PennyBiddr after receiving a referral from the Federal Trade Commission".

    So anyone who has a complaint about Swipe Auctions should get in touch with the FTC:
    https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx

    • Strangely says:

      …and this could be ANOTHER good reason for Willms' philanthropic gestures – i.e. he knows this shit is heading his way so he's hell-bent on looking good for the cameras when they come hunting him out again… ?

      The Washington court documents and site preamble are notable, because like me, nowhere do they use the term win without placing it in quotation marks…

      Like so: "win"

      This emphasises that it's a gambling nature with which the authorities view these "auction" sites.

      In essence, the "bidder" is placing rolling, incremental bets.

  5. Not Kevin says:

    Although the two crooks in this story have no connection with Jesse I had to chuckle at this paragraph:

    "They thumbed their noses at regulators, calculating nominal risk in stealing $159.95 at a time — even if their victims numbered more than a half-million."
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/croo

    Funnily enough $159 is also the amount that gets swiped from your credit card should you be unlucky enough to sign-up for swipeauctions!

    And at this from near the end of the same article:

    "While Kimoto does his prison time north of Reno, his wife is now in the government's crosshairs. In a complaint filed last year, the FTC said Juliette Kimoto was one of the principals behind fraudulent web offerings on "Grant Connect." Consumers enticed to tap into lucrative federal grants ended up with a worthless computer program and unwanted enrollment in membership programs that cost $70 a month or more."

    Sounds familiar! The grant scam websites were the forerunners to the whole Google Treasure Chest etc bollocks which also featured "worthless computer programs" (or ebooks or websites) and "unwanted enrollment in membership programs that cost $70 a month or more"…

    • Strangely says:

      This is excellent news mate!

      I'm not sure about the lack of connection though – it's my experience that when something looks like a pig, and smells like a pig, it's a pig.

      The connection lies in the exact same modus operandi, right down to the "fees" nicked from people's credit cards. I've no doubt that they spammed, had bizarre exclusion T&Cs, had virtually non-existent contact points, banked offshore, were declined merchant status by a sequence of credit agencies and then moved on to a slightly different-sounding web address, yet using the same web templates.

      Yep! That's the connection.

      Now:
      Who supplied the templates?
      Who put the ideas in their heads?
      Who provided the credit processing facilities?
      Who provided the spam marketing?
      Who did they send referrals to for commission??
      Who did they pay commission to for these "services"?

      Now the major advert route for these businesses is Facebook, isn't it? Virtually every time I visit, I get ads for Willms' "auctions" and others' Get Thin or Get Rich ads.

      Second I'd say is still the paid-for Google ad to the myriad of fake news sites.

      And third is probably email spam directing folks to these very sites or Willms' "Auctions"

      Maybe they're about equal? It doesn't matter, because they all need hammering down. And IF everyone was forced to pay 0.1 cents for an email, it'd rid one part of the triangle not only from the above, but also all the viagra and ciailis rubbish, and worse. How this is done, there are various suggestions. They all fail if a spammer owns a major node of course, but then, while spamming for a short while their node would soon be blocked from the DNS.

      As for getting their oxygen of publicity removed from Facebook and Google? Firstly everyone must click the ads, and then they must complain to get the ads removed. Facebook have an easy thing that does it on the fly. Google is more involved.

      But hey! Just click and make the bastards pay – because the ads are not cheap!!

  6. Not Kevin says:

    A good article here on the whole Swipe scam saga which includes the point that they have "Offshore VISA only processing. From asking around, this was because they are basically banned from MasterCard and American Express – and no onshore US based processor will take them. This is a good sign of a scam, when a company can’t get one of thousands of processors and credit card companies to work with them"
    http://industrypace.com/frontpage/2010/10/5/alleg

    On a side note, assuming you still have a Google alert on "Pacific Webworks" you will no doubt have been sent a link to this article:

    Executive of troubled Pacific WebWorks resigns, The Salt Lake Tribune:
    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/50417965-79/co

    • Strangely says:

      No I hadn't got the alert yet @Not Kevin. But it makes interesting reading, as do the following comments (about ClickIncome etc)! I wonder what's going on? Maybe son wants to branch out on his own?….

      I DID see the recent splurge of announcements of great things to come from Larsen et al. The software is now even better, and they've changed their whole business ethos due to difficulties in managing the child industries that they've spawned…..

      We'll see, eh? We'll see.

    • Strangely says:

      Check out the latest news from Jesse Willms!

      yes, I know. I never thought I'd say that, but really, check out these two websites and compare the statement of:

      “After partnering with the Breast Cancer Research Fund this summer, helping the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation seemed like the natural next step,” Willms said.

      Because Willms’ team raised more money for the foundation than any other team at the Edmonton event, Willms was asked to speak to the crowd once the race was over.

      “It was inspiring to look out at the thousands of people who had come together this Sunday just to help other people fight the good fight against breast cancer,” Willms said.

      This summer the Breast Cancer Research Fund was one of several charitable organizations to receive $25,000 donations from Willms.

      “To be honest I was a little nervous having to get up there and talk,” Willms said. “But one thing these charities have told me is that it's not enough to simply give money. You need to help get the word out and inspire other people to give as well.”

      from here, say: http://aggregator.in/blog/2010/10/06/internet-ent

      with this information here, http://www.runforthecure.com/site/TR/RunfortheCur… which states:

      Team Pink – Join Team Raised

      Self Donation Steven Scoby $15,500.00

      Kieran Reeves $0.00

      nicole skolski $0.00

      Self Donation Mike Stefaniuk $5,500.00

      jesse willms $0.00

      Team Donations $10,000.00

      ….yes you read it correctly.

      Jesse Willms = $0.00

      And don't forget Willms' prior ILLEGAL use of the pink ribbon cancer logo which you pointed out some time ago….

  7. Not Kevin says:

    If only a TV crew had been there to confront him about the prior unauthorised use of the pink ribbon!

    On the charity issue I would have to agree with the author of this article:

    "I feel horrible pointing this out, because I do believe in supporting these charities — but spending $2,500 on charities while scamming millions out of hard working people doesn't make it right."
    http://industrypace.com/frontpage/2010/10/5/alleg

    In fact there are rumours that Worldvision is very unhappy with the way their logos have been plastered all over SwipeAuctions – no doubt they don't want to be associated with unethical business practices, deceptive marketing techniques or even the possibility of some people thinking they somehow 'endorse' SwipeAuctions.

    After all the way Swipeauctions are churning out press releases about their donations (most companies who make small donations to charity just quietly get on with it rather than feeling the need to boast about it on a daily basis!) and plastering the Worldvision logo all over their site is not that different to the way that ABC, BBC and other logos are plastered all over their site. Donating a few thousand dollars to a charity does not buy you the right to use that charity as a major part of your marketing!

  8. BillB says:

    Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself!

    Nice work on Willms. There are other Willms stuff at:

    http://www.prlog.org/10989352-swipeauctions-revie

    and

    http://hubpages.com/hub/Swipe-Auctions-ReviewDoes

  9. Not Kevin says:

    Apparently Facebook banned online gambling advertisements some time ago (see article in link below) – so surely on that basis they should ban penny auction adverts too.

    Funny how the 1 comment on the article (on a gambling website) is from a "Penny Auction Guide" :)
    http://southerngaming.com/?p=6782

    • Strangely says:

      Ha Ha. Neatly spotted about the lone spam comment….

      Of course, it explains why Willms is soooo keen to get penny-bid-auction-ripoffs labelled as "entertainment" and not "gambling".

      This is why folks must not get suckered into thinking it's some sort of interactive entertainment, because it's not.

      Don't give it a chance, because it's a huge gamble with all the odds stacked Willms' way.

      BTW, I've nothing against gambling, but there's a very good reason that huge laws and regulations developed by most nations to regulate it and protect people from themselves, tax it for the common good, etc.

      Which is why all the sharks are now on-line, as it's very hard to police…

  10. Jennifer says:

    Good Afternoon,

    My name is Jennifer, I am the Head of Customer Service for SwipeAuctions. I see that there is numerous concerns regarding the site. Should you have any concerns with your account at SwipeAuctions please contact me personally at [email protected]. Within your email please include your first/last name, user name and the email linked to account.

    Warmest Regards,

    Jennifer

    Head of Customer Service

    • Strangely says:

      Chat to Jennifer!

      Here are my questions:

      @Jennifer.

      You'll guess from the content of this website that I don't have an account with your business. So…
      Please take the time to answer all the complaints and lists of hypocritical words and deeds of your business owner Jesse Willms that you'll find in the several posts and comments that you've voted down on this website. I won't email you personally, just answer each and every thing you disagree with on this site, please.

      Also, there's been some doubt about your authenticity on several consumer websites. Are you real? Give us a photo please.

      Cheerily,
      Rees

      n.b. Jennifer did arrive from 206.75.117.93, the IP address I mentioned earlier!

    • Strangely says:

      Is this Jennifer the same Jenny Kelsey from the TerraMarketting Group as mentioned in this heart-warming placement piece from the Edmonton Sun:

      http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/edmonton/2010/12/

  11. Strangely says:

    It was back in July 2009 that @Not Kevin pointed out the burgeoning numbers of Jesse Willms blogs, all made for the supreme purpose of manipulating the Google rankings to make him look good.

    http://strangelyperfect.tv/3311/watch-out-for-the

    What was then a small flood, has now turned into a deluge of websites, most of which are anonymised and most of which have only a small amount of extremely self-referential content, full of backlinks to the key Willms blog.

    Many were originally wordpress or blogger hosted efforts and a small list is from here http://www.bestpennyauctionwebsites.com/2010/05/1

    * SwipeBids’ “happy winners blogs“

    * http://winningpennyauctions.wordpress.com/
    * http://onlineauctionsavings.wordpress.com/
    * http://pennyauctionaddict.wordpress.com/
    * http://thetruthaboutswipebids.wordpress.com/
    * http://pennyauctionaddict.wordpress.com/
    * http://pennyauctioncomparison.wordpress.com/
    * http://swipebidssuccess.wordpress.com/
    * http://swipebidssensation.wordpress.com/
    * http://swipebidsproducts.wordpress.com/
    * http://pennyauctionsreview.wordpress.com/
    * http://swipebidstactics.wordpress.com/
    * Swipebids’ Company Blogs

    * http://swipebidsupdates.wordpress.com/
    * http://swipebidswinners.wordpress.com/
    * http://swipebids.wordpress.com/

    Most of these are now dead and have been replaced by a zillion named websites, purportedly on separate subjects.

    (Most people would use one blog and use the inbuilt feature of blogs called “categories”.) Willms method is wholly designed for search engine result wangling. This is to push the “scam” and “fraud” references for which he was originally famous down the list so that things like:

    http://www.saleemkhan.com/work/2007/05/software-p
    and
    http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/227920/

    …do not have so much relevance. Then hopefully, the fact that eDirect Software, a Willms business that he proudly claims started him on his path to riches, was actually sued by Microsoft and Symantech and paid large sums to both businesses, will be forgotten.

    What was that? Forgotten?

    I said that Willms paid out large sums to Microsoft and Symantech for software piracy.

    However, the folks conned by this were never recompensed and would have to actually buy licensed software all over again!!!

    An example of the web spamming websites and pages that conveniently and hypocritically omit details of Willms earlier dark dealings is here, written by someone from the Willms circle, Dana Wong (she has also appears as the contact on a WHOIS for a Willms website).

    ‘http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978507868

    Ethical standards it drones on about? Eh?

    Here are some more links detailing Willms’ UN-ethical earlier work. Either thousands of people in the world are under some mass delusion, or they’re not. Make your mind up:

    http://reviewboss.com/premium-white-ultra-and-dazhttp://www.wulongtea.org/ http://www.scamchecker.com/content/jesse-willms-shttp://www.complaintsboard.com/?search=jesse%20wihttp://onlinescamwebsites.com/2010/09/swipe-auctihttp://www.saleemkhan.com/work/2007/05/software-phttp://www.wuyiteareview.com/wuyisource.php http://www.ripoffreport.com/weightloss-programs/ahttp://www.scamraiders.com/forum/topics/just-thinhttp://www.merareview.com/7636/deceptive-advertishttp://www.scamtimes.com/podcast/episode-3-call-ahttp://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-434-336-4079/2 http://adnmall.com/ocsinfo.htm http://www.truthaboutwulongtea.com/ http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-866-279-6513 http://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/jesse-whttp://www.bestpennyauctionwebsites.com/2010/05/1http://bennettbill.wordpress.com/ http://blognizance.blogspot.com/2010/07/flim-flamhttp://www.ripoffreport.com/directory/Jesse-Willmhttp://www.scribd.com/doc/39494345/Jesse-Willms-Dhttp://hubpages.com/hub/Jesse-Willms-Charity-Canchttp://digg.com/news/offbeat/jesse_willms_internehttp://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/jesse-whttp://www.complaintsboard.com/complaints/227920/

  12. Strangely says:

    I should have realised WHY the minimal-content, selectively-titled wordpress.COM website creationslisted above all suddenly disappeared….

    Someone, somewhere spotted the wordpress.com (Automattic) Terms & Conditions…

    See Section 2: Responsibility of Contributors.

    the Content is not spam, is not machine- or randomly-generated, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites , or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing);

    Still. They did the job while they lasted! Ha Ha.

    In fact, if you check the full TOS, the above selected portion is the ONLY super-highlighted bit in the TOS except for two that highlight a disclaimer and a liability section.

    So WordPress consider unreasonable commercial backlinks purely for SEO benefits to be on the same level of importance as their own public liability!

    See full T&C here:
    http://en.wordpress.com/tos/

    It's also noticeable that WordPress's T&Cs are clear and easily readable, and are about a tenth of the size of the T&Cs of all those dodgy websites that we loath.

  13. Not Kevin says:

    About bloody time:
    http://www.cleveland.com/consumeraffairs/index.ss

    $450 million – crikey!

    PS – long time no comment (sorry) – hope you are well.

    • Strangely says:

      This is from the FTC charge sheet:

      The Willms defendants' misrepresentations, deceptive omissions, and unfair billing practices have generated more than 467 million in gross sales, with unreimbursed consumer injury totaling more than $412 million.

      It's no wonder the smiling wonder boy can afford the odd few grand on philanthropy! It's sickening and I hope they string him up. This is what Willms says about himself on his "About" page here: 'http://jessewillms.com/about-2-2/

      Through hard work, dedication, and a unique approach to eCommerce, Terra Marketing has made significant strides in the competitive market places it has entered.

      It has a unique approach to its business practice…

      And so it drones on. I wonder if he'll carry on with his case against W5 & CTV?

  14. Strangely says:

    Penny at pennyauctionwatch added a comment recently and then added comments about why I'd blocked it….

    Truly. I didn't. I've been experimenting with various plugins and I think it went into a Facebook blackhole….

    Anyway, this is Penny's take on the FTC v Willms et al. As she says,

    "From the introduction, “the Willms’ defendants’ illegal practices have raked in more than $467 million from consumers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. The complaint also includes info on Willm’s (sic) being notorious for credit card processors cancelling merchant accounts due to a sheer number of chargebacks. (Something that Willms alleges I am responsible for in his lawsuit against me for my blog articles: http://www.pennyauctionwatch.com/2010/11/penny-au… Significant and widespread consumer injury is alleged."

    http://www.pennyauctionwatch.com/2011/05/ftc-char

    Yes. It's true. Willms blamed her for taking his business down…. As I've said many times, he never admits that any of the lawsuits with which he's been charged, and caved into, are his fault.

    In Willms' world, it's always somebody else, the system, a genuine mistake or whatever.

    Watch that FTC space.

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