DEVELOPING STORY: Blogger In Czech Republic Who Called INetGlobal A ‘Scam’ Last Summer Says She Was Threatened With Lawsuit; Blogger’s Name Means ‘Prophetess’ Or ‘Oracle’
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sybille Yates, the subject of the story below, contacted the PP Blog Feb. 26 and Feb. 27Â from an IP in the Czech Republic, after reading our coverage of the Ponzi scheme allegations against INetGlobal. The PP Blog asked Yates questions in follow-up emails, and this story is based on her responses and the PP Blog’s own reporting.
A woman who described herself as a Blogger in the Czech Republic says she was threatened with a lawsuit after calling INetGlobal a “scam” in a post in September 2009 and after owner Steve Renner was convicted of federal income-tax evasion in a case that alleged he had converted customers’ money in a separate company to his own use.
Sybille Yates, who said she runs a Blog at hospitalera.com, called INetGlobal a scam in a post on Sept. 3, 2009.
Ironically, the name “Sybille” means “prophetess” or “oracle,” according to ThinkBabyNames.com, a website that provides a dictionary on the meaning of names.
About three months later — on December 8, 2009 — Renner was convicted of four felony counts of income-tax evasion. Last week, federal agents raided his offices in Minneapolis, amid allegations that INetGlobal was operating a Ponzi scheme and engaging in wire fraud and money-laundering.
Although Yates said paperwork directed at her appears to have originated in the United States on or around Dec. 18 — about 10 days after Renner’s conviction — Yates added that she did not know she was the target of a prospective lawsuit until on or around Feb. 25, about two days after the Feds raided INetGlobal.
Yates said she was summoned to a Czech court to retrieve the papers, adding that “I think [INetGlobal] tried to silence me, but didn’t count on the amount of time it would take to serve them overseas.” She noted that she was puzzled by the paperwork because “I never received a cease and [desist] email or letter.”
The Czech court appeared not to be the venue from which any lawsuit would be heard. Rather, the court contacted Yates to let her know that “that legal papers were waiting for me [since the] middle of January.”
“This notice didn’t state what the papers were all about, just that they were legal and from the USA and that the courts here in the Czech Republic are not involved,” Yates said. “I kind of felt paralyzed, I lead a pretty law obedient life and didn’t have any experience with such situations.”
INetGlobal’s website was offline early this morning, throwing an error message that said “Our Web Servers appear to be experiencing technical difficulties.”
Yates, who described English as one of four languages she speaks, said she was not a member of INetGlobal.
“I toyed with the idea for a second to sign up for free /[or the] minimum fee in order to get better insider info, but only for a second,” she said. “I would not have felt comfortable enough to give them even the most basic personal information, not to speak of my debit card details.”
INetGlobal went to the time and expense of translating the documents sent from the United States into Czech, Yates said.
“[T]hat was completely wasted on me as I don’t speak Czech!” she said. “I live here, because my husband works here.”
Yates said she believed INetGlobal perceived her “as a pain in the backside” because of the “scam” reference and because she has a high search-engine ranking for terms associated with INetGlobal.
“I don’t concentrate on scams, but I am convinced that it is perfectly possible to make money online without scamming and ripping people off, so if I come across something that I think is a scam, I say so,” Yates said.
On Sept. 3, Yates wrote, “Inetglobal is a scam and a really bad one. Stay away from them and save your money!”
Her Sept. 3 post suggested INetGlobal had a â€œdaily re-purchase,â€ program in place, which she interpreted to mean “your credit card will get continuously charged and drained until you are in deep debts.”
In an affidavit for a search warrant in the INetGlobal case last week, the U.S. Secret Service described an â€œautomatic repurchasingâ€ program that the firm allegedly employed by default and prevented customers from overriding.
It was not immediately clear if Yates and the Secret Service were referring to the same repurchase program.