Online Sabotage on Complaint Sites

by Brett Borders

You can’t belive everything you read online. This is especially true if you read it on a trashy, anonymously-registered “complaint” site. These for-profit sites, like Rip Off Report, ComplaintBoard and Pissed Consumer – make big money by running huge blocks of ads alongside, over, under and inside the anonymous, negative “reviews” of companies. Some charge victimized business owners $5000 a year to edit or remove false reports.

These “consumer complaint” sites are being exploited by someone interested making reputable companies (especially successful ORM sites) look bad by using online sabotage: creating false libels against competitors. Someone out there is hiring third-world contractors to invent and systematically post “complaints” accusing legit company owners of fraud, theft and unethical business practices.

Want to see proof that malicious, fake online reviews are being used as online sabotage against ORM companies ? Here is a list of 5 fake “complaints” that were apparently filed by the same individual over a 24 hour period from 3/24/10 – 3/25/10 – and all were copied and pasted onto multiple sites. All of the victim’s have sites that rank visibly in Google for “online reputation management.” Most reports claims that the company “stole” a sizable sum (between $1,900 to $6,000) and then refused to do the work or communicate again. Most of the reports have a similar style of electronic “handwriting” – written by a non-native English speaker who OCCASIONALLY USES CAPS LOCK for EMPHASIS.

Fake “Complaint” #1

Victim: Online Reputation Edge
Post Date: 3/24/10
False Allegation: Claims that I stole $6000 and refused to return phone calls. Ha!

Fake “Complaint” #2

Victim: Elixir Interactive
Post Date: 3/24/10
False Allegation:The company uses high-pressure sales via telemarketing, stole $2750. Says the owner should be put “in jail.” Ha!

Fake “Complaint” #3

Post Date:3/24/10
False Allegation: Claims this informational blog (has no commercial services or contact info listed) is a “complete fraud.” Also claims that the site promises things that it clearly does not even address or mention. Ha!

Fake “Complaint” #4

Post Date: 3/25/10
False Allegation: Claims the company stole $3500 and has a big team of lawyers that harass people. Ha!

Fake “Complaint” #5

Victim: Sayre Online
Post Date: 3/25/10
False Allegation: Claims the company is “complete scum” and stole $1900. Ha!

Proof of Copy & Pasting

Here is a report that accuses the company ReputationHAWK of holding people “hostage” and being “careless,” but it doesn’t even use the same company name consistently in the report. At the bottom, is carelessly pasted into the complaint template:

All Successful ORM Sites Have Been Subjected to Online Sabotage

Reviewing the evidence here leaves me two options:

#1 – All the successful, well-known ORM sites and companies are being systematically sabotaged by a competitor.

#2- ALL of the ORM companies that are considered trustworthy by Google are actually “complete frauds” and they each respectively swindled $1900 – $6000 from the same overseas guy (who can’t spell or write proper English), during the same month, and he posted several hundred complaints about all of them on the late evening of March 24th!

It’s easier for me to believe that I’m married to the Tooth Fairy and we have Seven Dwarves for kids… than it is for me to believe #2.

If your company was listed in this article and you would like to address these reports or have any concerns, please e-mail me – brett -at- onlinereputationedge -dot– com – and I’ll promptly take care of anything you need!

  • Joshua Dorkin @ BiggerPockets

    Love it, Brett! Nice job busting them . . . now if only you knew who it was! That's about as slimy as it gets.

  • Brennan

    They copy and pasted the same exact thing about my company “sayreonline” (now Prime-Elite LLC) on a few different shady complaint websites and even on the above mentioned copy and pasted it twice but on the 25th and 27th. I am of course familiar with many of the companies I compete with and from what I know none have ripped anyone off either.

    Aside from the unsophisticated attack on reputations I think it also shows that reviews on these websites are not vetted at all, have no real moderation, and have zero legitimacy. This is why Google should take a second look at why they rank websites such as these so high in the search rankings. Many times I have had clients who have features from the Wall Street Journal but are outranked by an unoptimized RipOffReport page before we start on their project. Should be interesting to see if these people continue the attacks and if they leave any traces.

    ps. Brett I sent you an email last night about the situation. Feel free to email me back if you need anymore information, etc.

  • Dylan Downhill

    Finn wrote a post about our (Elixir Interactive's) experience with these fake reviews at…

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    I really like this type of Merchandise too, can you help me look at which one has higher price point?

  • Frankboothe

    I forgot to say its the most successful of all time because makes hundreds if not thousands of dollars per person that they route to their own affiliates. Just shady business. Then he emails other webmasters with threats of FBI raids if they don’t stop badmouthing him and his shady practices. Scummy Scummy website. This guy starts his website in 2007 and is instantly a trading professional (18 year old kid).

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