BehindMLM.com Offline

From Google cache earlier today for BehindMLM.com.

From Google cache earlier today for BehindMLM.com.

UPDATED 3:21 A.M. EDT SEPT. 30 U.S.A. The PP Blog is aware that BehindMLM.com, the popular review site that covers multilevel marketing and fraud schemes within the sphere, is offline. The precise reason why is unclear at this time.

BehindMLM.com reported Sept. 26 that it had received a DMCA takedown notice from Faith Sloan, an MLM HYIP huckster and figure in the TelexFree Ponzi- and pyramid-scheme story. In April 2014, Sloan was charged with securities fraud by the SEC for her alleged role in TelexFree, described by regulators as a billion-dollar fraud that crossed national borders.

In the takedown action, Sloan complained about certain photographs that have appeared on BehindMLM.com. Sloan claims to own the copyrights and that Behind MLM’s use of the photographs was unauthorized.

BehindMLM has called Sloan’s claims “bogus”  and has said an outage was possible as the situation evolved.

Content from BehindMLM.com has been cited in court filings by TelexFree members who alleged that racketeering violations occurred within TelexFree. More than 1 million TelexFree victims may exist around the world.

Analysis by the PP Blog of a small subset of data from 95 self-identified victims of TelexFree shows that the group of 95 lost a whopping average of $27,578 each and that claimed losses ranged from a low of $900 to a high of $427,500.

 

 

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27 Responses to “BehindMLM.com Offline”

  1. I seriously hope that any ISP on the planet recognizes that the re-purposing of a person’s FaceBook photos when attached to news stories practically defines “fair use”.

    Faith Sloan has made herself a newsworthy individual after finally being charged with promoting a Ponzi scheme after over a decade of repeating similar offenses for her personal gain.

    I imagine we will all feel better when we get the news that the DOJ convicts and sentences her after the SEC is through with their civil proceedings.

    The world has had more than enough of this low-life parasite.

    SD

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  2. I wonder why he called it “bogus”? She has most likely got some legal assistance before she wrote the complaint, making it more “solid” and more specific than a general complaint. It will be difficult to explain the fair use of at least 2 of the photos, the two “Kerry Sloan” photos (photo #4 and #5 in the complaint).

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  3. Why the site would be shutdown (It is as on this post) for a DMCA claim I don’t know.

    Why not just take down the photos and clear it up.

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  4. Why my ZeekRewards article was knocked offline for 2 weeks when it was clearly fair use? I don’t know either. But this will end up being a “watershed moment” in scambusting history. THAT I am quite certain of.

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  5. shipdit: I seriously hope that any ISP on the planet recognizes that the re-purposing of a person’s FaceBook photos when attached to news stories practically defines “fair use”.

    I don’t think they will [recognize it as fair use]. At least not as a general rule. They may recognize it on a case to case basis where it really is about fair use. But then they will normally not receive any complaints either.

    Ripping off photos from Facebook, for other uses than initially intended, isn’t commonly accepted among Facebook users either. It’s accepted for SOME photos and for SOME uses, but you can’t apply that idea to ALL photos and ALL types of uses.

    It doesn’t really matter if it’s accepted by SOME people, e.g. if a group of anti scam people see it as “fully acceptable”. It must first be fully accepted among Facebook users before it can be counted as “fully acceptable”.

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  6. I’ve seen hundreds of news stories from tens of providers featuring “ripped off” Facebook photos of individuals who for one reason or another became newsworthy.

    My advice to my own children has always been: “don’t post anything on the internet that you would not be proud to have anyone on the planet to see if you happen to become famous”
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    SD

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  7. K. Chang: Why my ZeekRewards article was knocked offline for 2 weeks when it was clearly fair use?

    You only used the ZeekRewards logo. That’s about a different type of “Fair Use”, about Trade Mark fair use. It has some rules about using only a portion of a logo and some other rules. It has some rules about types of uses, e.g. using a logo in a price comparison table may be fully acceptable while using a logo to add credibility to something is not acceptable.

    If you violated anything at all, it was not about a serious violation. You could have replaced the logo with a “text based representation” of the logo to remove all doubts, as a temporary solution while defending the fair use.

    Serious violation can be about e.g. when an MLM company misleadingly is name dropping different “partner companies”, e.g. when SpeakAsia listed the logos of several big companies as “partners”, or when WCM777 tried to build up a story about partnership with Siemens.

    Serious violation is typically about potential harmfulness, about uses that can harm the logo owner’s reputation. But it’s not about factual information like e.g. a neutral price comparison between different brands (that type of use is actually encouraged).

    Robert Craddock’s takedown attempt was bogus and VAGUE. He didn’t properly identify the ownership to the logo. He didn’t properly identify his own role. He didn’t really prove his case. He didn’t analyse fair use, harmfulness etc., so the complaint was rather incomplete.

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  8. shipdit: I’ve seen hundreds of news stories from tens of providers featuring “ripped off” Facebook photos of individuals who for one reason or another became newsworthy.

    Point to a couple of examples? The normal way is to use “faximiles” as illustrations.

    Press organizations have relatively strict rules for publications, different types of “Code of Ethics” (they usually have more than one set of rules). They may also violate those rules from time to time, e.g. “News of the World” (1843-2011) clearly violated some rules. That organization doesn’t exist anymore, the violations were too serious to be accepted among people in general.

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

    Here the general publication rules for Norwegian reporters, the “Be Careful Poster” (English version):
    http://presse.no/Saker/CODE-OF-ETHICS-OF-THE-NORWEGIAN-PRESS

    The most relevant part of it is Section 4 “Publication Rules”. You can’t apply the same rules to a blog, but some of the same general ideas can be useful.

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  9. If her facebook page was always set to ‘private’ and someone took them, that would be one thing but she has to have her face out there to suck more marks in and it’s open for public viewing.

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  10. M_Norway: She has most likely got some legal assistance

    What does that mean ???

    Nobody has any idea about whether or not she did or didn’t get any legal assistance.

    As a matter of fact, it would be equally as valid to say “she most likely used a standard DCMA template” to file her complaint

    We simply don’t know.

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  11. K. Chang: Why my ZeekRewards article was knocked offline for 2 weeks when it was clearly fair use?

    Because someone at the Zeek Rewards enterprise had the notion they could chill you via complaints for purported copyright and trademark infringement and that purported consultant Robert Craddock was the man for the job:

    http://patrickpretty.com/2012/07/28/site-critical-of-zeek-goes-missing-after-hubpages-receives-trademark-infringement-complaint-attributed-to-rex-venture-group-llc-but-north-carolina-based-rex-not-listed-as-trademark-owner-flori/

    Memory Lane:

    http://patrickpretty.com/2012/12/27/letter-to-readers-our-choice-for-the-most-important-pp-blog-post-of-2012/

    Some additional background. Faith Sloan’s assets were frozen on April 17. But the SEC says it has post-freeze evidence she sent checks totaling nearly $15,000 to Changes Worldwide LLC for the purchase of “business promo packs.”

    On its website, Changes Worldwide identifies Robert Craddock as its copyright agent.

    http://patrickpretty.com/2014/06/12/bulletin-sec-accuses-faith-sloan-of-violating-asset-freeze-in-telexfree-case-by-sending-thousands-to-changes-worldwide-llc-company-that-lists-zeek-figure-robert-craddock-as-copyright-enforcer/

    I haven’t seen any evidence that Craddock played any role in Faith’s takedown notice to BehindMLM. Faith could have done it herself, via a kit.

    It is known that Faith promoted Zeek (charged in August 2012) and TelexFree (charged in April 2014, with Faith as a co-defendant) and Profitable Sunrise (charged in April 2013).

    There was a docket indicator on Sept. 19, 2014, that things could be picking up in the Profitable Sunrise case. It has been mostly quiet since April 2013, owing in part to the need to serve a certain business entity in Europe.

    Because of the exceptionally murky nature of the Profitable Sunrise “program,” the court specifically authorized a means of alternative service, and the SEC now says “Defendant Inter Reef has been served with process.”

    Shout out to the ASD Updates Blog, which made us aware of this Profitable Sunrise development.

    Patrick

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  12. M_Norway: She has most likely got some legal assistance….

    So what? Doesn’t mean she got *quality* legal advice. Not that I’m saying she did or didn’t. We don’t even know if she consulted an attorney in the first place (like LittleRoundMan said). The point I make is that having an attorney “help” a person doesn’t mean that person’s actions suddenly become meritorious, legitimate, correct, or infallible. Don’t believe me? Ask Telex how it went with Nehra.

    M_Norway: I wonder why he called it “bogus”?

    *sigh*
    Smh.

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  13. I’m the owner of Gintruth.com – a blog site I started to help people scammed by serial scammer, Kevin Trudeau.

    Two years ago, I received a cease and desist letter, via the mail. I live in Japan.

    ANY Web host is required by US law, to give notice of complaint received, with at least ten days to respond by either counter claim or removal of content. Furthermore, a letter MUST be sent by a lawyer and received in person by the addressee.

    It appears Sloan has not done so.

    I’ll be blogging about her soon.

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  14. M_Norway: If you violated anything at all, it was not about a serious violation

    K. Chang violated nothing at all when his Zeek Hub temporarily got taken down. In short, a buffoon running interference for an $850 million Ponzi scheme tried to intimidate him.

    Here’s the rough timeline:

    * July 6, 2012: Zeek (Rex Venture Group) gets a CID from the North Carolina Attorney General.

    * July 22, 2012: Craddock uses Gmail to send HubPages a complaint that alleges “Copyright, Trademark infringement” against K. Chang. To add perceived weight to the complaint, Craddock signs it “Rex Venture Group LLC” and bizarrely further accuses K. Chang of “tortuous [sic] interference.”

    * Aug. 4, 2012: Zeek bizarrely uses its Blog to declare that “all” criticism of it has been based on “false information.” It further plants the seed it may sue credit unions. Among the assertions on Zeek’s Blog was this: “Zeek Rewards policy is to act quickly to support the Zeek reputation and the future of your business.” (Please feel free to projectile-vomit.)

    * Aug. 17, 2012: People who carry badges and guns and investigate threats to U.S. financial institutions and the U.S. financial infrastructure show up at Zeek. The U.S. Secret Service confirms it is investigating Zeek. The SEC describes Zeek as a Ponzi- and pyramid scheme that had gathered hundreds of millions of dollars.

    After Aug. 17, 2012: Craddock joins forces with Todd Disner and T. LeMont Silver to try to undermine the SEC’s case and poison the well against the court-appointed receiver in the Zeek case.

    Patrick

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  15. PatrickPretty.com: Some additional background. Faith Sloan’s assets were frozen on April 17. But the SEC says it has post-freeze evidence she sent checks totaling nearly $15,000 to Changes Worldwide LLC for the purchase of “business promo packs.”

    She also has a testimonial for something called Ad Hit Profits. There’s no date so I don’t know how recent her blurb is. It is accompanied by a photo of her smiling face.

    She also has a photo at Big Shot Millionaires – red hair & holding a comedy cheque.

    She seems happy with these photos associating her with obvious ponzi/pyramid schemes.

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  16. Possibly related: some other company who pissed off consumers is also suing another website for allowing those customers to vent.

    http://boingboing.net/2014/09/29/roca-labs-threatens-suit-again.html

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  17. Bubba: So what? Doesn’t mean she got *quality* legal advice.

    We’re probably talking about two different things here? The Service Provider must respond to the actual complaint and to the counter arguments. If the complaint is specific so should the counter notification be.

    “Bogus” indicates some types of misrepresentations of facts. If there is any, it’s normally better to point them out directly rather than to state a conclusion.

    I didn’t add anything about “quality legal advice”, or any ideas about how legal advice would make legal actions become more “meritorious, legitimate, correct, or infallible”. You have added ideas that simply weren’t there.

    A template can be a type of legal advice, a general one. I didn’t try to analyse which type of legal advice, i.e. those ideas about “quality legal advice” came from yourself. I didn’t have that type of exaggeration.

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  18. Has anyone contacted Oz? Surely Oz knows of this article and can update us here.

    The longer the site is offline, the bigger hit the SEO rankings take. Bad guys are winning.

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  19. Jimmy: Has anyone contacted Oz?

    Sent an email. Hoping to hear back. He could be swamped.

    Patrick

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  20. Quick note: Just found out there might be a caching issue with this thread. This may mean that a recent WordPress update is not playing nicely with one or more plug-ins.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Patrick

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  21. Hey guys. Ran into communications delays I wasn’t expecting.

    Site should be up within 24 hrs (working on it now). I’ll be able to provide an update on the DMCA issue probably around the weekend or early next week.

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  22. Oz: Site should be up within 24 hrs (working on it now). I’ll be able to provide an update on the DMCA issue probably around the weekend or early next week.

    This is good to know, Oz. Take care.

    Patrick

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  23. Bravo.
    Many benefit from the quality of your work.
    I’m hearing the death rattle of a serial scammer,
    and I look forward to your reporting of the facts.

    SD

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  24. I don’t want to post a link to Faith Sloan’s site but she has a ‘legal’ ‘libel’ archives section where she spouts:

    A good example is what happened when I issued a
    Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
    complaint to GoDaddy against behindmlm, a trash blog owned by Oz. He thought it was okay to take copyright photos of my family members and I and weave some sick untrue libelous story around it. Well it turns out that GoDaddy did not like that. Behindmlm is using Godaddy as a domain registrar and as a web host. My DMCA complaint brought him a DMCA takedown for breakfast! After 4 days down, Oz of behindmlm decided he didn’t like that. Besides .. as long as behindmlm was down, Oz (fake name. anonymous blogger) could no longer pay his bills since the Google Adsense banner ads were out of commission on his site.

    She also says “Will FINALLY people become accountable for what they post on the internet?” to which she answers “I will answer YES!”. I wonder if she will hold herself accountable to all the obvious ponzi schemes she has promoted (and continues). Will she hold herself accountable to all the people she has suckered and profited from by investing in obvious frauds?

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  25. Tony H, quoting Faith: Oz . . . could no longer pay his bills since the Google Adsense banner ads were out of commission on his site.

    Seems as though Faith’s real aim was to cripple the AdSense ads over at BehindMLM, perhaps causing harm to BehindMLM and Google.

    This conceivably could mean that Faith, while an SEC defendant and while accused by some TelexFree members of securities fraud and racketeering, was a vexatious filer of a DMCA takedown notice and used the copyright claim as a pretext. In other words, the real aim could have been retaliation for something Oz reported.

    Of course, the HYIP sphere long has been infamous for demonizing the pursuit of publishing at a profit. It’s as though someone within the sphere came up with a Stepfordian-inspiring talking point that says, “My God! Would you look at that! They’re committing publishing!”

    Not sure how many more times Oz and other publishers more or less will be accused by an HYIPer of “committing publishing.” Here’s hoping BehindMLM continues to “commit publishing.” Hard to say, but I’d guess Oz has helped his readers avoid millions of dollars in losses to these wretched scams.

    The Banners Broker crew also accused Bloggers/critics of “committing publishing.”

    Back in the ASD Ponzi days, all kinds of folks purportedly engaged in the “advertising” business bizarrely were accusing publishers of “committing publishing.”

    Publishers carrying TelexFree news also have been accused of “committing publishing.”

    Patrick

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