Tag Archive: Penny Auction

FTC Take Action: Is This The End of The Fake News Site?

FTC Permanently Stops Six Operators from Using Fake News Sites that Allegedly Deceived Consumers about Acai Berry Weight-Loss Products

Above is the FTC’s own headline from a news release yesterday.  The story is that they’ve hammered six operators of fake news sites into making settlements that surrender their assets.  They’ve also halted the six operations plus those of four others, making ten by my calculation!

What Is a Fake News Site?

Do you really need to ask?   !!    (These are for news7digest, see more below on this!).

Anyone who even casually browses the web will have seen these news exposes, quite often advertised down the right side on Facebook and in banner adverts on even the most sensible of websites – like this one, say!

How the adverts work is that they are paid for by the operators.  They deliberately pay to get premium visibility slots, using Google often, but not exclusively.

The fake news site itself will be plastered with well known icons of top companies (like CNN, BBC, CBC, ABC, Google even!) and purport to be a serious investigation by a journalist into whatever the scam may be.  A short list of such scams that we’ve revealed here are:

  • Acai weight loss
  • Tea weight loss.
  • Acai bowel cleanse.
  • Other bowel cleanse.
  • Get rippling muscles.
  • Make money on Google.
  • Get a cheap payday loan.
  • Get a cheap government grant.
  • Get rejuvenation skin cream.
  • Look younger in other ways.
  • Gamble on penny auctions.

channel4online.co.uk

Just yesterday, Peter Farrahy asked why these fake news sites are still going on this post about Jesse Willms.

So taking his example of the very plausible looking channel4online.co.uk and doing a search on it like so:

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=channel4online.co.uk

…produces several links to the actual Channel 4 in the UK, and the scam site….

This shows the deliberate, deceptive and despicable way in which the site name has been chosen to closely imitate a legitimate and bona-fide news organisation.  Fraud, in other words – as the definition says – “an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual”

Amazingly, if you click the link several times, each effort takes you to one of three different landing pages for a new site, the actual fake news site of,

news7digest.com

This shows up in the header image in two, but confusingly is called Consumer Reporter in the other!  They are all visually quite different.

The three screenshots near the top of this article are indeed the three fake news sites which you’ll land on by clicking on channel4online.co.uk.

Here they are again, to save you scrolling:

Conclusion

Is this the end of the fake news sites?  Well, obviously not.

They are still very very current and still very very visible.  The highly photoshopped images adorn well known websites to the point of irritation.  However, the settlement was only yesterday.  The note on the FTC statement goes on the say;

A settlement order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant that the law has been violated. Settlement orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

Despite this, it appears the six defendants are caving in as no appeals have been launched.  They are and the details of the settlements are as follows:

  • Ricardo Jose Labra Labra’s $2.5 million judgment will be suspended when he pays $280,000 and records a $39,500 lien on his home.
  • Zachary S. Graham, Ambervine Marketing, LLC and Encastle, Inc. Graham’s $953,000 judgment will be suspended when he pays $110,000 plus most of the proceeds from the sale of a truck.
  • Tanner Garrett Vaughn Vaughn’s $203,000 judgment will be suspended when he pays close to $80,000 over a three-year period.
  • Thou Lee Lee’s $204,000 judgment will be suspended when he pays $13,000 plus the proceeds from the sale of a BMW.
  • Charles Dunlevy Dunlevy’s $143,000 judgment will be suspended when he pays an estimated $2,000 from frozen assets and the sale of a boat.
  • DLXM, LLC and Michael Volozin The $594,000 judgment will be suspended because of the defendants’ inability to pay.

 

I see it as a warning shot.  The actual wording of the terms against the six goes as follows.  It’s quite onerous and specific, I think, which means that these News7Digest screenshots at the top of this posting put the operators in deep doggy do if they don’t get their act together pronto.  The highlights are mine.

As part of its ongoing crackdown on bogus health claims, the proposed settlements will require that the six operations make clear when their commercial messages are advertisements rather than objective journalism, and will bar the defendants from further deceptive claims about health-related products such as the acai berry weight-loss supplements and colon cleansers that they marketed.

The defendants also are required to disclose any material connections they have with merchants, and will be barred from making deceptive claims about other products, such as the work-at-home schemes or penny auctions that most of them promoted.  The settlements also require that these defendants collectively pay roughly $500,000 to the Commission because their advertisements violated federal law.  This money amounts to most of their assets.

A Sample of My Previous Posts Mentioning Fake News Websites

This all proves that what I and others are saying is wrong – and the FTC is proving it!  Virtually everything that the scammers do the FTC has now taken issue with and imposed heavy penalties.  It’s now, as they say, case law, as well as being the law of the land.  Let’s hope that Willms who chucked his power derived from ill-gotten wealth at me making me pull a page or two for a time, gets his just deserts – sometime this year would be nice.

 

Related Posts:

Comments are closed

Jesse Willms Settles in Court with Google – a Google Win against the Scammers?

Just Think Media Settles With Google Over Trademark Infringement

Last year Jesse Willms threw the lawyer dogs at me which forced me to pull some posts.  I’d been calling him a scammer which was obviously in clear contradiction of his (now public) self-vision as a charitable philanthropist.

Just Think Media Google Judgement

Just Think Media Google Judgement

Statue of JusticeHowever 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!

Oprah

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.


Software

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:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:t8cCRQchBSkJ:jessewillms.com/giving-my-first-interview/+jesse+willms+interview&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&source=www.google.co.uk

…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…)

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:E5uCb8xgIYYJ:www.gettingtheinterview.ca/+http://www.gettingtheinterview.ca/&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&source=www.google.co.uk

If the cache changes, these are copies I made of their state today, in doc and pdf format.

 

Conclusion

Gandulf Decides

Gandulf Decides

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.

 

Further Reading:

Related Posts:

Is There Really a SwipeAuctions to SellOffAuctions Link?

Introduction

I’ve been reading this post on Penny Auction Watch:

http://www.pennyauctionwatch.com/2010/11/have-you-bid-on-selloffauctions-com-reviews/

..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.

Blog Posting

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.

BlogSimilaritySearch

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

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

SellOffAuctions Blog – webcache

…and the original “Why Free Isn’t Better?” post from the old blog  is here on yet another Willms blog:

JesseWillmsMarketing

JesseWillmsMarketing

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

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!

SellOffAuctions.Net

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:

http://selloffauctions.net/auctions

…which then redirects to:

https://www.vigrxplus.com/?a=InterMark&t=2656

This is a site to flogging big knob stuff, a whois puts them as follows below with 45 similar big knob sites listed here.

Registrant:

Leading Edge Marketing Inc.

c/o DM Contact Management Ltd.

Suite 100 – 645 Tyee Road

Victoria, British Columbia V9A 6X5

CA

250-383-8267×452

Fax:250-383-0896

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.

Conclusion.

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.

Related Posts:

Internet Businesses, Court?

Introduction

roostersThe 9/11 period, (or 11th September in some places), has been interesting of late with regard to internet marketing and litigation as it applies to certain entities not unfamiliar to these pages.

Pacific WebWorks (PWW)

A Randy Guffey is named as the class action plaintiff against the “business” of PWW.  The nature of the suit?

Torts – Property – Truth in Lending

See this link, and more to follow when news filters out.

Jesse Willms

A few quick things around good ol’ lovable Jesse Willms have come out in the last few days.

  1. He’s been feverishly tanking up a blog on “internet ethics”.  See and the daily list of patronising postings from his holier-than-thou-ness.
  2. He’s plopping out yet more feeds about his “business”.  See http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/09/prweb4486904.htm for instance which starts off with the classic line from Jesse,  “Bad customer service can destroy your business”. Well either that or getting caught for thieving by the copyright owners such as Microsoft and having to fork out millions in damages! That’ll also do it!
  3. He’s now taken to threatening legal action against anyone telling the truth about his activities….  Just small fry mind you.  Not the major TV companies who’ve exposed him, say.  Take Michael Larson of http://www.pyxisstudios.us/public/about-us.html, say.  In this document (link to pdf) from the lawyers Kronenburger, they conveniently provide a list to a host of complaints about SwipeBids (not SwipeActions mind you!).  Well it’s nice to have everything in one place for easy referral isn’t it?

In (3) above, most of Larson’s words are prior comment.  They’re just scare tactics.

Larson has taken this on board.  Cunningly, , has quite a few things to say about all this.  He’s now reminding everyone about the US RICO act.  This means the:

Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

In light of these facts, we see Jesse Willms actions with more clarity.

Conclusion

Willms is presenting a cleaner and cleaner image of himself to the world, like his charitable donations and continuing deluge of helpful moralising.

Unfortunately for him, the web has a memory, easily called up.  It’s not like having a playground argument where the winner walks away and all is forgotten, because all his weasely ways, frauds and deceptions are there in black and white for all to see with a quick Google search!

He knows what he’s done.  His current disguising actions are just fluff and bluster, because his past is there all the time.

Maybe the RICO act will get him?  Maybe a host of class actions?  He thinks his current penny auction site is an auction, the Government thinks it’s a lottery and should be governed by gaming laws (see RICO act for some of this).  He thinks  he’s being charitable with his money and helpful with his current blogging, we see it as self-serving deviousness.

Pacific WebWorks are being hit by another class action and legal case.  This is another reason why the share price hasn’t risen following the Google cop-out (sorry, agreement).  I wonder how many more are in the pipeline?

Long Lists from These Pages of Willms and PWW Comments

http://strangelyperfect.tv/7108/jobs-at-just-think-media/

http://strangelyperfect.tv/6568/dangerous-effectivecleanse-and-scams-too/

http://strangelyperfect.tv/5146/more-on-google-profits-and-pacific-webworks/

Related Posts:

© 2007-2017 Strangely Perfect All Rights Reserved