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Ripped Off By Rip-Off-Reports, What To Do About Scams

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Posted 12th August 2008 at 01:42 PM by BrianMcLeod

This post grew from a reply I started to make on this thread:

Before long, my fingers wouldn't stop and... now it's here.

Ripoff report has been around along time and has saved me thousands of dollars. Mostly from companies calling after I bought a IM product, offering coaching whose price seemed to be based on questions they asked about my credit situation. They all had multiple complaints against them. This goes back to 2002.

Now all of a sudden these allegations come out, made by the same people who have complaints posted against them?
I wonder how your opinion might change if those same companies that tried to sell you coaching in a way you perceived as sleazy were to join the "Corporate Advocacy Program" to the tune of 5 figures and magically all of those terribly influential complaints were carefully rebutted by none other than the EDitor of ROR himself?

SEOmoz | The Anatomy of a RipOff Report Lawsuit

Hey, believe what you want. The truth is out there. The irony in this statement didn't miss me though:

"It is "UGLIER than you can imagine.", but until the allegations are proven, I wouldn't be to quick to jump on the bandwagon."
If only people weren't so quick to use that reasoning to defend ROR while presuming anything posted there about a business is truth.

The reality of this situation is a little too frightening for many to swallow, and rightfully so. No reasonable person wants to believe that ROR would ever do what they absolutely do. That anyone has been allowed to get away with such tactics for so long boggles any fair mind.

Let me just say, I'm quite certain that there ARE legitimate gripes on ROR. However, I do know for a FACT that honest and legitimate clients of mine have been the subject of death threats, false and malicious complaints from people who've never even done business with the company and/or don't exist in their database, and worse. It's a real problem.

There is now an entire reputation management industry thriving in large part because of ROR, it's penetration and the mindshare it has captured as a result of the unexplainable love Google (and Google alone, btw) has for ROR.

Once you've seen first hand what this kind of weapon is like in the hands of an emotionally unstable person with an axe to grind and all the time in the world to grind it... Once you've been engaged to clean up after that mess while the client watches in horror as its profits tank and "done" deals disappear out of thin air as soon as the prospect Googles their name (where there's smoke, there must be fire, right?)... Once you've seen, up close and personal, the kind of potential abuse and damage that goes along with this reckless type of "consumer protection", you'll come to realize that the way ROR operates is not in the public's interest at all - at least not the interest of the public that purports to want the truth and fairness.

Sadly, for many companies, their only choices are to pay ROR to mitigate the damage that never should have been allowed in the first place or to spend a fortune tracking down and suing the original poster (which IS happening more and more) with no hope of ever recovering any judgment they might get. The only thing they get out of that type of litigation is the court record so they can reactively rebut the court of internet griping.

Here's a great comment from the post I linked to above that really nails it, IMO:

Good article. Explains ground well-trod.

I have spoken with Magedson personally on behalf of a client regarding a negative (and totally false) post on ROR. He actually told me he would be willing to edit the TITLE of the post about my client. That could have taken him out of the exclusions of the CDA and subjected ROR to liability.

Unfortunately, it would have been too cost-prohibitive to take him down. And Magedson apparently makes enough money to fight.

In my opinion (to avoid libel), he's a nutjob, with entitlement mentality, and an "untouchability complex."

His site has suffered the same fate as, say, Marxism: a good idea in theory, but wholly corrupt in practice.

I don't necessarily want to see the site go down, but I would like to see the business model move toward something more vetted, and less extortionate. Like, a lot.
YES. Exactly.

Now, as to what to do about BEING SCAMMED - as in REALLY BEING SCAMMED. I hear you. I really do. ROR is like "fighting fire with fire", right? "Hit 'em where it hurts...". WRONG.

No, there's a much better way to deal with lying, stealing, cheating scumbags who screw you over. You make a bulletproof case using the facts and you go to every regulatory agency and every local media consumer reporter with an air tight "scam package" and you hit the *******s on every front simultaneously with THE TRUTH, then you keep the pressure on until you receive your refund.

What you need is FACTUAL EVIDENCE and PROOF. If you THINK you've been scammed, if you WONDER if you've been scammed, if you do not have ABSOLUTE FACTUAL EVIDENCE proving that you were scammed, you are wasting your time and you are subject to significant penalties (perjury, etc).

But if you REALLY HAVE been ripped off, you have the truth on your side, and you are going to tell it. OH, are you going to tell it...

Lay out your facts in a concise narrative with the documentary evidence and any communications that support your story. Gather any and all documents and emails, website printouts, whatever...

Now scan/convert all of the above into one PDF file that you will use to email and reprint as necessary.

Contact your State's Attorney General and the state AG where the company is located and file a complaint using your PDF. They will be notified and receive a copy your complaint and thus be required to respond within 10-30 days. Many would be scammers will fold right then and there and send you an immediate refund.

Call your local consumer reporters from all of your local news stations and email them your PDF, asking for their help. Make clear to them that you are credible and prepared to go on TV and you just might end up there.

Contact your local newspaper's business reporters and pitch them the same way you pitched your local TV.

While all of the above is going on, send demands for refund to the scam via certified mail at their address as listed in their corporate records which you'll get from the state they are incorporated in. If they have an attorney listed as their registered agent, send a copy there each time as well.

Assuming the amount of loss falls within the boundaries, consider filing a small-claims case against them company in your local jurisdiction. Costs are small, they may never respond. Could give you a modicum of leverage.

Last but far from least, consider hiring a good attorney on contingency. Avail yourself of the usual free consultations most attorneys will offer you and lay out your case using your PDF. You will be giving up at least 30% of the recovery (plus expenses sometimes), but you will not be doing the legwork.

If you cannot recover your loss using the steps above, chances are not very good that you ever will. NOW would be a good time to create a blog describing your experiences and laying out the documentary facts for the world to see.


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