I’ve been busy. I posted the details of a wacky con on the Crawling Chaos website (shown above). In a nutshell, it appears to operate thus:
User searches for music or other media
User is presented with search results, some of which point to Black Box Access
User clicks on link and is told that the required file was uploaded last week and has been downloaded ~19,000 times
User immediately thinks “this is popular, I’ll have it!”
User hands over email & financial details
After this I don’t know as obviously handing over that data to a bunch of crooks is just asking for trouble.
However, as if to highlight their very own scamminess, Black Box Access serve ads which go to websites from which it’s almost impossible to leave with continuous pop-ups and all the usual crap.
So beware. Tread softly young Luke. It’s a major privacy issue.
However yesterday, Google, who had originally sued 50 unknown John Does reached a settlement with some of the defendants in a case originally brought on 17 May, 2010. prominent among these is Just Think Media, latterly a vehicle for Jesse Willms’ internet enterprises. See final judgement here.
Apparently, all defendants are saying that the Google claims are false, yet are paying up. Whether they have or not, I don’t know. Google still won.
You’ll notice in the above screenshot that it includes as many of Willms’ businesses and associates that they can discover – Farend Services on Cyprus, 1016363 Alberta, 1524948 Alberta and his current vehicle, Terra Marketing Group (This is him on the “about” page).
Farend Services popped up a lot in our investigations. This is Willms take on networks and affiliates and how his business worked in a now hard-to-find interview from around New year, 2011:
It‟s a commission type arrangement in which we hire networks to manage our advertising and we pay them a certain amount of money per product sold. Those networks hire affiliates to place the ads and most of them are very good – but we occasionally run into problems with affiliates making false claims.
Blaming all the failures on the folks who fed him customers which he did in his interview did not save him from folding under the weight of evidence that Google presented to the Utah court.
Noticeable by its absence in the interview is any mention of the Google case although mention is made of his cases against CTV and others! In actual fact, from our and others investigations, the statement “…affiliates to place the ads and most of them are very good” is so far from the truth as to be laughable.
This is because time and again we saw the same adverts all served from the same few servers (like Bloosky say) and all the affiliates all quoting the same copyright infringing stuff in their webpages that have been used and proved in this case by Google, almost continuously.
This is not a few affiliates- it’s almost all affiliates! Almost all the time! The web was full of it!
So to be absolutely clear, Willms blamed almost everything on his affiliates in the Oprah Winfrey case, which he also lost. Quote:
Affiliates broke our rules and used their unauthorized images, and made claims that she had endorsed our products. Even though we didn‟t use the unauthorized images ourselves, this case has been settled and there are measures in place so this doesn’t happen again.
The thing is, he had an excuse for his million dollar fine for flogging counterfeit Microsoft and Symantech software as well, which given that they’d want at least their lost sales back does not equate with his statement of:
Only a small percentage, less than one per cent, was counterfeit.
So far, without any other corroborative information, it is only Jesse saying this. He blamed everything on his supply chain. To be fair, Microsoft’s authentication system was poorer some years ago than it is now.
Willms also says that he has learned from his mistakes in his interview. Let’s hope he has.
This case goes back to his business efforts for 2009 and earlier.
Since then he has apparently folded on the-next-big-thing which was penny auctions and has gone to great pains to shift website ownership of his earlier websites (as detailed in posts and comments passim). His Terra Marketing outfit are noticeable for their absence of any business activity (at least compared to the past) and appear to exist purely for charitable works and a promotional vehicle for Willms himself. Their website mentions “partners” and is big on saying, well, er, not a lot actually. It’s not clear what they do but apparently 250 people are doing it!
And there’s the nagging questions again;
If this interview is so wonderful, how come it has now been pulled and is only available via the Google cache? Originally he was very proud of it and went to great pains to promote it…! I have enough news log references to it to fill a (….insert your own big thing here….)
And why are the Willms businesses and domain names being shuffled off this mortal coil so quickly?
And Farend Services in Cyprus, the companies in Pasig City, Nevis, County Durham and Gibralter plus Pacific WebWorks and Willms’ former enterprises… – Is the fact that the same names and addresses, phone numbers and call centres all kept popping up a valid causal link or is it really just several businesses all using the same business services with or without considering the ethics of their business decisions?
I guess there’s still time to find out.
Where is The Jesse Willms Interview?
Interestingly, despite all the web puffs for it when it first came out, it has disappeared! He – mentioned it here on his main personal blog and http://www.gettingtheinterview.ca/ – it used to be here. Sadly, and ironically, the Google cache (how coolly ironic is that?) provides us the answers:
…is for his self-promotion of the interview and below is the actual interview, which had also gone! (I’m not making this stuff up you know, but it shows the lengths to which some folks will go to rig Google search ranking…)
So. Scammer or philanthropist? You decide. The settlement in court says one thing.
Google won $1.6m between the defendants, which in my opinion is a fraction of the money that the scammers duped from their “customers” over the years.
Reading the Google case shows that Google only started to react when they themselves were asked to answer court summonses by folks that had been scammed – by Willms, Pacific WebWorks and the rest under the mistaken impression that it was Google taking the cash from them!
During the time of the scams in question, Google made heaps of money from the advert placers (the affiliates). Perhaps they’d like to dip into their pockets and help the thousands who’ve been scammed by financing a proper damages case?
Probably not. Gotta think of the shareholders.
As always, it’s the little folks that suffer.
And Google, with its “do no harm” mantra, has actually not done much good at all! The case has provided a case law example for any folks willing to take up the reins against the defendants for monies lost, though.
Or the FTC could take up the baton and recover the millions for people should they wish to do it. Let’s see.
..and can agree with Amanda that many of the search results are “very interesting“, as she says.
The claims from “anonymous” and others really should be chucked out for believability because they are unsubstantiated. But there still lie many interesting things. Things like the Google screen-shots which demonstrate links over long periods of time between a clutch of business entities, most of which include substantial volumes of complaints and dissatisfaction summarised by the word “scam”.
This linkage is there in the internet record, no matter how much business entities chop and change their identity, on-line or off-line.
Of particular interest is Amanda’s mention of a SellOffAuctions blog. I remember this when it started, but it’s no longer extant although this huge web comment stream gives a description of its genesis. However, a quick Google search on the first line of the text pulls out the two blogs in Amanda’s narrative.
Blog Similarity Search
TerraMarketing’s output is in this shot below, but the SellOffAuctions blog is now unavailable:
Spam The Wrong Way To Market Your Business
Yet the SellOffAuctions basic blog contents at start-up show up clearly in the Google cache of the web-page:
SellOffAuctions Blog – webcache
…and the original “Why Free Isn’t Better?” post from the old blog is here on yet another Willms blog:
What Does this Mean?
Well the thread at PAW makes plain that a high degree of website copying has been going on. A guy claiming to be from SellOffAuctions makes this point as an excuse to speed up the site set-up. Others have pointed out that if this is the case and there has been no collusion with SwipeAuctions, then the brief happy Willms’ outfit would have a very good case for copyright infringement.
Bid Auction Software – a Google Search
One extra spanner in the works that may block any suing is that on-line templates exist for the express purpose of setting up “Bid Auction” type websites! So of course they’d be similar! (That is a screendump of a Google search for Bid Auction software on the right!) This does not explain the similarity in the blog postings mentioned below, though.
Another extra spanner that might possibly confuse people over intra-website or intra-business linkages is the addition of the SellOffAuction.com domain (n.b. no trailing s). This was pointed out here.
It Is Very Interesting
It’s also very interesting that two blog posts from the Willms’ website stable found their way into the Google cache of a direct competitors blog, is it not? We now know that the blog was pulled, but in its entirety? Maybe after all, there was copying and the blog was simply pulled as being past its purpose. This happens all the time, not least with Willms’ myriad of blogs such as described here.
The WHOIS records for all websites above follow the usual patterns with the notable introduction of “Internet Holdings” into the mix (what happened to TerraMarketting?) and also the movement of some Willms domains to the Ashton Manning registrant noted a while back:
One Last Twist!
There is of course potentially, a plethora of SellOffAuction domains. the dot net one, is one and a full screenshot is on the left complete with a the biggest footer of exclusion clauses that I’ve ever seen!. Here’s what the top of the page looks like:
You’ll see that it contains a video, the very same video used by SwipeAuctions.com on their website and affiliate promotions. Also, it’s on selloffauctions.com too!
Even more interestingly, all the links supposedly go to SellOffAuctions.com if you look carefully – except they don’t!! They actually point to:
Leading Edge Marketing’s T&C contain the USA phone number 1-866-621-6886 which throw up a few complaints mainly from folks who don’t like porn. Personally, I can take it or leave it. I just don’t like thieving scammy bastards.
In this case, it’s an affiliate fuck up either by design or accident.
That’s about it. I can’t find direct linkages for now. There’s too much supposition and too little actual proof. Sechrists pop up and go. Blogs pop up and go. Websites pop up and go. So for now, that’s it. Inconclusive is my take on any connection.
The cause of all of this was a cease and desist request to me via email by a lawyer, Matt Thomson working at Kronenberger Burgoyne. They found me by the simple expedient of checking my WHOIS for this website. This public visibility is something that in his earlier business of Just Think Media and many of the websites run by him, Jesse Willms obviously failed to do – it being very well documented on-line in such places as the legal settlements with the various organisations and persons that he offended, say. Currently, his WHOIS is visible, and I’ve now discontinued those postings or comments and/or their threads above, as requested.
The cause of my postings was my observance of the extremely high level of complaints by users of Mr Willms services at his websites, and reported as such on a host of consumer-focussed websites and organisations, which I won’t list here for brevity, but are widely available. This is what attracted my attention and I would not have published anything without this high level of consumer complaint. (Obviously, why would I suddenly start spouting on a personal blog site about a Canadian about whom I knew nothing? Like der!)
The effect of the wide complaints, was that users of Mr Willms services complained to their finance organisation using such terms as “deceptive practices” and “unlawful withdrawals” from their bank or credit accounts. (n.b. this is the recommended procedure as reported here with a concert ticket selling scam – Added 12/11/10)
Whether we think that all these people were under the mass delusion that they all had the same experience, or not, the effect of this was that credit processing was limited to Mr Willms businesses which made transactional business difficult for him.
Mr Willms therefore sought to apportion blame to his customers and any organisation reporting their complaints for his downturn in business. ( His earlier businesses for which he reached a legal settlement with Oprah Winfrey et al he appears to have terminated.)
This, for all the above in this paragraph above entitled “Cause and Effect”, is my opinion of the history surrounding Jesse Willms and his businesses over the last few years. How he now conducts business is a different issue entirely, which is why I’m stating the fact here.
This “Cause and Effect” paragraph now ends.
I’ve published the full message to myself below, and it makes interesting reading for those interesting in such things.
A very interesting part of the threatening letter to myself from Matt, was the limits to my free speech on something that only they deem confidential and that may or may not be subject to copyright laws! Matt says:
This letter is without prejudice to the assertion of any and all rights and remedies of Mr.Willms, all of which are expressly reserved. This is a confidential legal communication and is not intended for publication, including publication on a website or via email distribution. Any republication of dissemination of any part of this letter will constitute infringement of copyright and a breach of confidentiality.
Remember, the letter was sent to me without my request. Now as far as I’m concerned, and as a subject of the United Kingdom of Great Britain etc, anything I receive, except something from HM Government in the UK that is subject to the Official Secrets Act, I can publish or copy as I see fit if I have a copyright. Is this letter copyrighted? Even if it is, and I profoundly disagree that it is…..I can still publish. How so?
Being a published musician with my copyright works being plundered on-line, I’m not unfamiliar with copyright law.
This is some Crawling Chaos music for you to enjoy and has Jeff Crowe at his finest and for which I have a Copyright that allows me to play it here etc.
A clause in the US version, which almost exactly follows that in the UK and elsewhere through international treaty and general agreements, is that it’s not illegal to reproduce copyright work under the “Fair use” clause for a host of reasons. This is the clause below, taken from the Cornell Uni. Law School website which is copied from the required US law. (They state: Title 17 of the US Code as currently published by the US Government reflects the laws passed by Congress as of Feb.1, 2010, and it is this version that is published here.)
§ 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include— (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Cease and Desist
And here’s the cease and desist to myself Link, to which I’ve complied with all listed terms and by the removal of listed exhibits.
I’ve complied in that all of what I’ve said previously about Willms and a host of other on-line businesses and services, (don’t forget), is either
repetition of opinion, fair comment and prior art from other sources when I consider them as such. My website history shows that I’ve blocked commentary or linkage that is tortious, slanderous, insults appearance, race or sexual orientation of a person, is bigotted etc.
Now back to checking the internet to ensure that businesses are run fairly and that consumers (i.e. me, you and everyone else) do not suffer. This website, and all its contributors, will continue in this vein. All documentation and IP Addresses is available to any legal process, especially those that seek to protect the common man from the bad people and iniquities that exist in our fast-changing world.
After all, it’s always the common man that suffers from the actions and decisions of the creative types… Mostly, they just want to get on and live their lives free from harassment. Here ends my bit for now.
It’s all part of doing the right thing, doing one’s best, respecting others and ensuring that the most fortuitous karma awaits one in the future. It’s a demonstrable example of cause and effect at work where good leads to good and bad to bad.
Salvation from the pains and sufferings of existence lies in this lifetime, not some secondary one where all bad deeds are expunged, no matter what you’ve done. Nichiren explains this fully in the link above and elsewhere in his writings because you can only change your karma when you’re awake and sentient.
There are many examples of the above infringement on Facebook, which now has a user-base exceeding that of MySpace, which is the “normal” outlet for band self-promotion. Lesser infringements exist in the rest of cyberspace. Usually the offenders are happy to acknowledge our work when quietly prompted to do so.
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