Attorney Lisa J. Borodkin Prevails in a Motion Against RipoffReport.com
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Attorney Lisa J. Borodkin Prevails in a Motion Against RipoffReport.com

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January 12, 2013, 6:19 pm
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Phoenix Arizona  - Judge G. Murray Snow issued an order in the United States District Court for the District of  Arizona  No. CV-11-01426-PHX-GMS, granting Attorney Lisa Borodkin’s Motion to Dismiss the claims against her for the manner in which she pursued an action against ripoffreports.com (Xcentric Ventures, L.L.C., an Arizona limited liability company).

Lisa Jean Borodkin 
represented Asia Economic Institute, LLC (“AEI”), a California company that published current news and events online from the year 2000 until June 2009.  The lawsuit asserted twelve claims against Xcentric and Magedson, including RICO racketeering claims predicated on extortion and wire fraud.  These claims arose out of the AEI Plaintiffs’ allegations that Xcentric deliberately manipulated the Ripoff Report so that negative posts about AEI rose to the top of Internet searches, and then used its Corporate Advocacy Program (“CAP”) to coerce AEI into paying Xcentric money in exchange for giving AEI more favorable treatment. The AEI Plaintiffs contended that the use and description of the CAP claimed amounted to extortion and wire fraud.

The case against ripoffreport.com was eventually dismissed. In turn ripoffreport.com sued the plaintiff’s lawyer for  (1) wrongful continuation of civil proceedings and (2) aiding and abetting tortuous conduct. Attorney Borodkin moved to dismiss Xcentric’s complaintsuccessfully  and the court issued an order terminating the case against Lisa Jean Borodkin.

The ripoffreport.com in its' FAQ page contains a warning to anyone who might be considering suing the site: "any suit filed against us without probable cause may subject the complaining party and/or their attorneys to liability in the State of Arizona for wrongful use of civil proceedings. "[5]

Following this decision, the webpage titled "The Anatomy of a RipOff Report Lawsuit" originally published January 21st, 2008 by attorney Sarah Bird on the SEOMoz.org website has seen a flurry of discussion on the case in its ongoing analysis of the Ripoff Report web business.

Ripoffreport.com has been in the center of an ever-growing national dispute over internet publication that affects a person's reputation.  Ripoffreport.com promotes itself as a consumer protection web site.  However, it appears from their FAQ’s that they are distinct from all other consumer groups like the BBB and Consumer Affairs as they never investigate allegations nor do they remove them even if the author and the person defamed agree to the removal of the content.  [1]

Ripoffreport.com has been called  “the National Enquirer counterpart to the Better Business Bureau and their owner has been accused of collusion, extortion and racketeering under the Federal RICO act.” [2]  However, these allegations have not been proven.

It’s easy to post a complaint on Rip off Report. Anyone over the age of 14 may post free of charge, un-moderated and unconfirmed complaints known as 'reports'  which contain details of the complainant’s experience with a company or an individual discussed in the report. The site requires users to create an account that includes an unverified email address before reports can be submitted. According to the site’s own Terms of Service, users are required to state that their reports are truthful and accurate, but the site admits that it neither investigates, confirms or verifies the accuracy of submissions. Ripoff Report has been able to create more than more than 1 million pages indexed on Google.  [3]  It is near impossible to have these reports redacted, even if untrue.

The site offers a way for individuals and Companies who have been named in a report to respond by submitting a 'rebuttal' explaining their side of the story. Like reports, rebuttals may be posted free of charge by anyone with a user account.

A major complaint against  Ripoff Report’s policy to refuse to remove reports. Ripoff Report does not permit authors to remove their own reports, even in cases where a mistake has been made.  Furthermore the site will not remove reports in response to legal demands from attorneys. This policy is stated in the site's Terms of Service. All complaints continue public and unedited. A more detailed explanation of f the policy is found on the site's Frequently Asked Questions page. [4]

During my research for this article, I wasintroduced to an attorney in New York, Moses Apsan, who represents Michael K. Orgera, an individual claiming that he has been  slandered by defamatory comments made on the ripoff site.   Mr. Apsan commented that “ upon being retained by my client Michael K . Orgera, I reviewed their website in order to have the defamatory matter removed.  I had in my possession, a complete set of evidence to prove that the statements in ripoff report were completely untrue and actually fabricated.  After researching the law in this area, it became apparent that even to attempt a lawsuit against ripoffreport.com would be extremely expensive for my client, as the site owners’ hide behind a federal law, The Communications Decency Act, which   protects the website from most forms of civil liability arising from user-generated content. The site is protected even if the report is false and is not required to investigate content prior to publication or remove content after receiving notice that the material is false. Congress enacted such broad immunity so that service providers would not block and screen offensive content and violate our freedom of speech and free market.   However, I am sure, the framers of the law never contemplated anyone using the law in this way.“

A December 2011 a Florida Court of Appeals called the website’s business practices as ‘appalling’; opining that “The business practices of Xcentric,  [owners of ripoffreport.com] as presented by the evidence before this Court, are appalling. Xcentric appears to pride itself on having created a forum for defamation. No checks are in place to ensure that only reliable information is publicized. “

In the the Consumer Affairs site at http://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/ripoffreport.html, there appears to be many more people complaining of the ripoff report’s business practice.  The following is a sample.  Please note that these complaints are allegations and not verified.

Bruce of Beaufort, SC on Dec. 9, 2010  -  “It seems to me that the real rip-off here is this organization Ripoff Reports. They claim to be advocates of good business practice yet post anonymous claims against any business as they are received. No verification, no investigation, no justification. They go so far as to admit this on their main page: "While we encourage and even require authors to only file truthful reports, Ripoff Report does not guarantee that all reports are authentic or accurate." They further state that they never remove reports, presumably even when those reports are false, slanderous, or just plain dishonest. Yet a quick search on Google shows several companies that guarantee Ripoff Report removal for a fee. “

Sandy of Reynolds, GA on Feb. 8, 2010
  -  “Within 24 hrs of Donna G. putting a false statement against me on both site, I received an email requesting $$$ upfront to remove the complaint, and repair my reputation and business. Since then, the same person Donna G., Amelia V. has put up 2 more complaints and more than that on x-com-plaints.com. I have lost almost all my income, and have almost lost my home because of this lying slander that neither of these sites will take down. You see both these sites have servers that are overseas, so they can not be made to take the complaints down! I have suffered a huge financial loss because of this. My reputation will never be restored and my business is at a huge loss which will never be recovered.”

Alex of Simi Valley, on Jan. 11, 2010  -  “I have communicated with this company to no avail. I have yet to receive a response. We have been in business for over 35 years and just recently started to market our company on the internet. We have notice as well as any potential customer that there is a slanderous and an absolute lies put on their site. I can only recite our policy because there is no reference to which e customer or account it is. This is so unfair how can I get this incorrect information removed from their site?”

Peter of Beverly Hills, CA on Jan. 20, 2009  -  “This man ED MAGEDSON creates FALSE BLOGS targeting innocent companies. One by one he breaks down the very structure by scattering disgusting lies on the internet and then BLACKMAILING companies to pay him in his so called ADVOCACY PROGRAM. THIS IS EXTORTION!!!! The general public BEWARE. People who read the RIP OFF REPORT BELIEVE these terrible blogs and the companies fall hard. This is NOT free speech. It is illegal behavior based on greed and opportunity.   In a time of recession even innocent good standing companies are being targeted by Ed Magedson and blackmailed to pay him 45,000 to take the FALSE lies down!!!. EXTORTION at the VERY CORE. YOU MUST STOP HIM!  My company has lost almost a million dollars since this man created lies and false accusations. Worse, I CANNOT defend myself. He takes ALL POSITIVE blogs down. He is asking for $45,000 dollars. This is EXTORTION and I have hired the FBI to take him down. He is wanted by the biggest companies in America. Just Google his name. HE IS THE RIP OFF REPORT. Not the innocent companies he targets.”

These are just a few of the many complaints against ripoffreport.com scattered throughout the Internet.  The following is another group of anti-ripoffreport.com advocates.
 

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/online/ripoffreport.html

http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/01/ripoff-report-ripping-off-those-reported.html

RACKETEERING-MOB-CHARGES-filed-Against-RipOffReport-Owner

Some law suits filed against them

the-anatomy-of-a-ripoff-report-lawsuit

cash4gold-scam-ripoffreport-com-scam.html

complaints/rip-off-report-c164257.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripoff_Report

Ripoffreport.com collusion

More complaints

http://www.reportsripoff.com/ripoffreportscam.php

http://www.complaintsboard.com/byurl/ripoffreport.com.html



Perhaps this type of activity will resolve itself as the Internet matures.

 

Resources:

[1] http://www.ripoffreport.com/TermsOfService.aspx

[2] http://420college.org/ripoffreport-com-is-a-scam-fraud-cyber-terrorism/

     http://www.reportsripoff.com/ripoffreportscam.php

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripoff_Report

[4] http://www.ripoffreport.com/faq.aspx#rebuttal

[5]  https://www.ripoffreport.com/ConsumersSayThankYou/WantToSueRipoffReport.aspx

 


Author: Paulo Martins
Paulo Martins is a graduate of the London School of Journalism. His writings concern the plight of man in a digital world and Environmental Issues. He is currently residing in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
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Attorney Lisa J. Borodkin Prevails in a Motion Against RipoffReport.com
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