ED Magedson – Founder
Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Attorney; Charges against Darren Meade dropped! Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismisses all criminal charges against Darren Meade related to his posts on Ripoff Report. | Sac County Iowa Attorney Ben Smith fails to identify false statements, fails to support his accusations with clarifications.3197 AIRPORT 26 LOOP DRIVE Costa Mesa, California United States of America
***Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Charges against Darren Meade dropped!!!*NOTICE: July 13, 2014: Ripoff Report Launches Full Investigation!!! Sac County Iowa Prosecutor’sAllegations Warrant Unprecedented Action from Ripoffreport.com regarding Darren Meade Posts.....Michael Roberts, Rexxfield, Progenex Managers Adam Zuckerman and Ryan Page negotiate contract with Rexxfield online reputation management Michael Roberts in attempt to commercialize injection source code. The code purportedly offered consumers negative report removal from Ripoff Report and Google online property Blogspot. Recent Fox News exclusive has also exposed a plan called Googlecide -- a campaign designed to scare parents of children defamed online into purchasing the services offered by the new online reputation enterprise. Experts cited by Fox News have said altering websites by injecting source code is illegal. Costa Mesa, California
June 1, 2015. Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismissed all charges against Darren Meade on May 27, 2015, with prejudice. That means that Smith stopped prosecuting Meade for the things Meade posted on this website, and Smith cannot change his mind again and re-file the charges. It is not immediately clear what impact this will have on Ripoff Report’s investigation, or whether Ben Smith’s actions simply show that his accusations against Meade for posting reports have no merit. Here is a link to the order dismissing charges against Meade.
In July, 2014, Smith published a vague affidavit claiming that Meade had written false and defamatory things about witnesses in the Tracy Richter Murder trial. Smith later filed criminal charges against Meade, claiming that Meade’s writings and postings were criminal offenses, making further vague accusations that at least some of the things Meade wrote and posted were false and defamatory. [continued below]....
Meade’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss, claiming, among other things, that Smith had no evidence to support that what Meade wrote was false or defamatory and that what Meade wrote is protected by the U.S. Constitution as free speech, and could not be a crime. Meade’s attorney also asked the Court to disqualify Prosecutor Ben Smith from the case for a conflict of interest. Meade’s attorney argued that Smith was retaliating against Meade with the power of his government office, because Meade had made harsh professional criticisms against Smith in his postings on the Ripoff Report.
When the day came for Prosecutor Ben Smith to face Meade’s defense attorney in court, and present some kind of evidence to show that Meade made false statements, Ben Smith gave up instead of fighting. Smith did not present any evidence to show that Meade did anything wrong. Smith did not identify what statements, if any, were supposedly false. Smith did not present any evidence to show that anything Meade wrote was false. Instead, on the morning of the hearing, Ben Smith filed a motion to have the Court dismiss all charges against Meade, with prejudice, so that no charges could ever be re-filed.
As explained in a previous update, Ripoff Report has asked Smith to specifically identify what statements posted on the website about trial witnesses are accused as false statements. He has consistently and repeatedly refused to do that. Now, even after accusing Meade of a crime in court filings, Smith failed to present any proof of false statements, and instead dropped the charges and dismissed the case.
To read about this ruling and other court rulings go to our Scribd page:
----- End of Update June 1, 2015 -----
*NOTICE: July 13, 2014: Ripoff Report Launches Full Investigation!!! Sac County Iowa Prosecutor’sAllegations Warrant Unprecedented Action from Ripoffreport.com regarding Darren Meade Posts.
RipoffReport.com will thoroughly investigate allegations presented in a 124 page affidavit by County Prosecutor Ben Smith of Sac County Iowa. Smith alleged under penalty of perjury that Darren Meade authored and posted false reports on RipoffReport.com about at least four specific people. If RipoffReport.com's investigation reveals that any of the allegations made in any post about those witnesses contain false statements of fact, the false facts will be redacted from the postings. "We will get to the bottom of Ben Smith's allegations and publish the evidence and conclusions," states Ripoff Report Editor and Founder Ed Magedson.
Author Darren Meade's writings (some of which are in this link list) (see email from Darren Meade) challenge the fairness and credibility of the homicide investigation, trial, murder conviction, and subsequent treatment of Iowa mother Tracy Richter at the hands of County Prosecutor Ben Smith and Michael Roberts (Rexxfield), Tracy Richter's former husband. The Previous County Prosecutor had declined to prosecute Richter, who claims to have been acting in defense of herself and her children against multiple attackers when she shot at Dustin Whede during a home invasion in December of 2001. Ed Magedson had been convinced by Meade that the shooting was morally and legally justified and that an innocent woman was imprisoned.
While County Prosecutor Smith's affidavit contains certain incorrect assertions and many material omissions, it also raises some shocking facts, sufficient to justify a full investigation by Ripoffreport into Meade's assertions and motivations.
Ripoff Report's investigation is an unprecedented action for the consumer website. Ripoff Report accepts reports from authors who certify the honesty of the content of their reports, and encourages rebuttals to provide readers with both sides of a disputed story. Generally, Ripoff Report allows the public, the courts or an independent arbitrator to judge the truth and does not do an investigation to supplement or challenge postings. Gathering evidence and passing judgment on the statements of outside authors departs from its standard practice.
County Prosecutor Smith's aggressive actions justify extraordinary measures. Smith not only states that Darren Meade's factual allegations are false, he asserts that they violate Iowa's criminal laws and that Ed Magedson knowingly conspired with Meade and others. Ed Magedson did no such thing.
County Prosecutor Smith has used the full power of his elected office in attempts to crush criticism of his prosecution and he has relied heavily on advice, information and guidance from Michael Roberts, a known liar and extortionist. Roberts was involved in a scheme to illegally hack the Ripoff Report website and Roberts attempted to sell information regarding the hack to Ripoff Report for €105,000. http://www.ripoffreport.com/lhc/common/files/MichaelRobertsRexxfieldAttemptedExtortion.pdf
As a website dedicated to providing a voice to the common person through open information and free speech rights, Ripoff Report asserts its own voice on these matters of public interest and concern, and pledges full investigation of the issues.
As progress is made with our investigation, it will be posted here as an UPDATE to this statement.
Now to the original report that was posted …
By Glenn Puit
News Analysis and Opinion
I read with interest the recent Fox News story about allegations of a computer hacking of the national website Ripoff Report.
The story appeared on Foxs website Friday and reported that an online reputation manager hacked websites to 'inject' illegal code into Ripoff Reports website. This alleged hack, the story said, would make consumer reports disappear.
Ive been looking into ancillary matters related to this story for nearly a year now, and I can say without question that there is far more to this than what appeared in Foxs news account.
Namely, what the Fox story didnt include were these critical facts:
That the owner, founder and operator of Ripoff Report, Ed Magedson, said in addition to being hacked, his company received an email from an Internet expert who asked for $105,000 euros in exchange for making the technology of the hack disappear. Magedson identified the person who asked for the money as Michael Roberts, owner of the online reputation management company Rexxfield. Mr. Magedson said he feels like he was the subject of an extortion attempt. Roberts flatly denies any wrongdoing and granted me an interview (see his comments below.) His company, Rexxfield, has also issued a statement on the matter and questions the merits of the Fox report. Mr. Roberts said he was offering assistance to Ripoff Report, protecting them from a convicted felon who was now in possession of the code used against the website. Almost a month before Roberts contacted Ripoff Reports attorneys, Magedson said they had already plugged the hole where the hack had been illegally injected. Removal of the hack was costly and took weeks, he said.
Another critical fact not reported by Fox News is that a business associate of a white-collar criminal out of Southern California -- Adam Zuckerman once attempted to obtain a potential ownership interest in Roberts company. Mr. Roberts and another individual, Darren Meade, both said in separate interviews that Zuckerman was seeking to make money off the business of getting Ripoff Reports removed from the Internet. Both said the cool technique had also been floated to prominent search engine optimization companies, or SEOS, which claim to be able to clean up a persons online reputation, although the industry is starting to come under increasing scrutiny as to whether it can deliver the results it often promises.
So heres the full story as I see it:
Ripoff Report was founded and managed by Ed Magedson. A pioneer of online consumer advocacy, Ripoff Report is the most popular, longest running website of its kind since its launch in 1997. The website allows consumers to post freely about business transactions in which they feel they got ripped off. The business, Mr. Magedson said, the website has always had a uniform policy of not removing reports from the website.
Several months before Michael Robertss contacted Magedsons attorneys, Mr. Magedson was contacted by different authors of reports on his website. They questioned why their posts had inexplicably been taken down. Once Magedsons technical staff examined those specific reports, they discovered that the offending source code had been injected onto the companys reports illegally.
Consumers had complained that they couldnt find their report (that theyd posted,) and then somebody sent the link showing that, in many instances, these pages displayed this report has been retracted, Mr. Magedson said in a recent interview.
The company determined its website had been hacked, and Mr. Magedson said the company spent tens of thousands of dollars to remove illegal hack/code, but not before learning that thousands of consumer complaint reports on the website were taken down.
Mr. Magedson relayed the following facts:
In or around March of 2011, an attorney that knew Ed Magedson received an email and phone call from Michael Roberts, owner of Rexxfield. In an email, the attorney explained: Michael called me and explained that he became aware of some program or process that has the capability of pushing Ripoff Report reports far down search engine results and/or removing them altogether. I do not know the details of the process involved. Michael explained that he was approached as a potential investor in this technology, which was presented to him in "black box" form whereby he wasn't told specifically what it was used for, only that the concept sounded interesting.
Roberts, according to Magedson, sent an email to Ripoff Report attorneys asking for $105,000 euros to make the technology go away. The email (copied below) reads:
Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 1:35 PM
To: Maria Crimi Speth
Cc: XXXXX; XXXXX
Subject: Draft agreement
I am not sure if Chris told you, but I only have a very short window to effect this deal.
Please see attached, feel free to word-smith it as I am half asleep. I am going to bed soon so respond quickly if you want to wrap this up. If acceptable, sign and fax to me at 314-237-4976 and if Chris doesn't mind, scan and email to both of us also. Once Larry confirms receipt of funds we'll get this hole plugged before sunup tomorrow if your team wants to stay up.
CBS & Fox are both spooling up for a story on the "exploiters", I'll intro you to the producers if you desire. If you move quick you can probably have all their "customers" dispute their PayPal and credit cards, I think their contract has a 90 guarantee.
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 12:47 AM
To: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Mxxxxxx.
Dear Mr. Mxxxxxx,
I have cc'd RipOff's law firm for expedience as my moretorium to do this deal has all but expired. Let me make it simple:
(1) The Russian's have offered 105,000 for the tech
(2) I hate russians
(3) I personally don't want Russians knowing who I am or that I could potentially double deal.
(a) My associate doesn't care about what I am worried about
(4) If I burn the tech, then I have nothing to worry about, Russians move on.
(5) Once again, my associate doesn't care.
There is no Demo; the only security they have is that the funds would be held in your trust account until demonstrated. If they turn it down they will NEVER find it unless the people who are making close to $100K a week voluntarily give the info. One client supposedly paid $32K last week alone.
If they will not NOINDEX, then I will accept 105,000 for the tech an be done with it. But we must move now so I can show my associate your trust account balance and the signed agreement including mutual
NDA (this deal never happened ;)
Attached to the email were the (2) documents copied below:
Agreement between Michael Roberts and Xcentric Ventures LLC.
Michael Roberts ("SELLER") possesses certain knowledge about a system or method including source code and documentation (collectively "solution") to cause web pages on the website www.ripoffreport.com ("ROR") to be pushed down or reduced in ranking ("buried" or "bury") to position 256 or lower in Google search engine results.
also possesses knowledge, as to how to render the solution 100% ineffective against ROR in as little as 24 business hours.
has knowledge as to the CREATORS of the solution ("CREATORS").
has knowledge as to certain individuals who are exploiting ("EXPLOITERS") the solution in order to charge individuals and businesses money to have their respective ROR complaints buried below position 256 in Google search engine results. Whereas, Excentric Ventures, LLC. ("BUYER") desires to purchase the above information and knowledge about the solution from SELLER.
Conditions of agreement:
will in good faith hold the CREATORS harmless for their involvement in developing the solution as long as CREATORS cooperate as reasonably requested by BUYER in any legal action BUYER may take against the EXPLOITERS; and if applicable any criminal investigations that may be instigated by authorities against EXPLOITERS.
will hold harmless and indemnify SELLER and his agents against any legal action related to the solution or this agreement.
will not disclose the details of this agreement or SELLER'S involvement under any circumstances and acknowledges that a breach of this condition would cause the SELLER irreparable financial, and reputational harm.
will cooperate with BUYER as reasonably required to assist in any legal action against EXPLOITERS.
will transfer the full purchase price of 105,000.00 converted to US Dollars per the published rate on www.xe.com at the time of execution to:
****** Ltd Trust Account
Las Vegas, NV 89119
United States of America
Immediately upon receipt of cleared funds to the above trust account, SELLER will then electronically deliver to BUYER the following:
The source code for the exploit and all documentation. The information and technique required for positively identifying most, if not all ROR pages that have been buried by the solution in the last four (4) years and to remedy the effects.
The method required to render the solution ineffective.
The identity of the primary CREATOR and all information on hand for his/her co-CREATOR.
The identity of the EXPLOITERS.
The identity of at least two other victims of the EXPLOITERS who may and their sole discretion assist BUYER in pursuing civil and criminal actions against EXPLOITERS.
Upon delivery and proof of the existence and efficacy of the solution, Mr. Semenza is authorized to disburse the purchase fees to SELLER without delay.
The request did not sit well with Mr. Magdeson, especially after he had his website hacked in an act that eventually ended up costing him tens of thousands of dollars to restore the missing reports. In addition to these costs the company sustained significant losses in advertising and other revenue.
Im going to be seeking both restitution and prosecution, Mr. Magedson said of those eventually deemed responsible for the disappearance of reports from his site.
Mr. Roberts Response
Michael Roberts, proprietor of Rexxfield, was put at the center of the hacking allegations in the Fox News report. In an interview with me, he did not deny knowing about the technology that made Ripoff Reports disappear from search engine results. He also did not deny contacting Ripoff Report and asking for money. He said, however, that he is not convinced that the technology in question is hacking; that it could have social value in helping people who are the subject of false reports; that he never used it himself personally; that he only saw it remove reports from search engines and not the Ripoff Report website; and that his request for money from Ripoff Report was not extortion.
Instead, he said he was trying to help Ripoff Report deter the technology impacting its website because, he said, it had fallen into the hands of criminals.
Mr. Roberts, who has worked as a consultant for Ripoff Report previously, said hed originally invested in what has been described as the cool technique the process of making Ripoff Reports disappear from search engine results after meeting with a Matthew Cooke, whom he described as the onetime owner of the technique.
I reached out to Mr. Cooke repeatedly to talk to him about these matters. He never responded.
When I was first made aware of the ability to make the stuff get removed from search engine results, I was very excited, Mr. Roberts said in a tape recorded interview, adding he went back and forth as to whether it was actually hacking.
Roberts insists that he never saw reports disappear from Ripoff Report during demonstrations of the cool technique. Instead, they disappeared from search engine results.
Ripoff Report, meanwhile, said the reports actually did disappear from their website due to the hacking source code. The Fox News story cited legal experts who declared that if someone did have reports removed from Ripoff Report, that the practice was, in fact, illegal.
In addition to these facts, Magedson countered that Mr. Roberts never worked for Ripoff Report in so far as a long-standing relationship between the parties never existed. Magedson added in his interview statement that it was his opinion that Roberts must have had a falling out with the company that owns the website complaintsboard.com, as Roberts had supplied Ripoff Report with information to assist Ripoff Reports effort to collect a judgment the company had secured against complaintsboard.com, a website that is located in Latvia. Ripoff Report was awarded this judgment after prevailing in litigation which found complaintsboard.com guilty of stealing an abundance of Ripoff Reports published content over a period of many years. Magedson also said complaintsboard.com removes complaints for money, something Ripoff Report has never done. There are also other websites that are also currently scraping Ripoff Reports as of the date of this article, and those websites also remove the complaints for money. As a result of these actions Ripoff Report won a large judgment, and again is suing complaintsboard.com for other violations in a lawsuit filed this week.
Mr. Roberts said around the time he was investing in the cool technique and then pondering its legality, he entered into separate business negotiations with an individual named Ryan Page. Page is a president of the company Progenex, and also an associate of a white-collar criminal named Adam Stuart Zuckerman. Zuckerman is currently pending sentencing in the theft of more than $20 million from financial institutions. Mr. Roberts entered into business negotiations with Zuckermans associate, Ryan Page, over Rexxfield, and Roberts said he eventually came to deal with Mr. Zuckerman on a regular basis and that Zuckerman was interested in the search engine optimization industry.
Mr. Roberts said he believes Zuckerman likely came into possession of the cool technique, and that this is why he contacted Ripoff Report and asked for money to help deter a criminal in possession of the technology. The euros, he said, were for litigation support, expert fees and witness fees if Ripoff Report pursued civil litigation against anyone using the cool technique.
They would get whatever is needed from me in litigation support, experts witness fees and map out the network, Mr. Roberts said.
A prominent Internet blogger who once interviewed Zuckerman, Anthony Roberts, tells me Zuckerman told him he was pursuing technology that would remove reports like Ripoff Report from the Internet and that Zuckerman actually tried to hire him to write defamatory content about individuals and post it online so that Zuckermans company could then solicit these individuals to offer their services to remove the reports.
Mr. Zuckerman, through his attorney in court documents, has denied engaging in any criminal behavior while pending sentencing in his criminal case.
Mr. Magdeson, however, finds it outrageous that Mr. Zuckerman is even out of custody and that federal officials had been warned about a potential hack by former Progenex CEO Darren Meade and did nothing.
You want to know how I feel? Im pissed off," he said. "The authorities knew who and what they were dealing with, in my opinion, a career criminal. One who they are relying today to be a witness for them to prosecute other people on other crimes, (thats reliable) while allowing Zuckerman to remain free with absolutely NO supervision is unconscionable.. Look at what he did. Theres a wealth of evidence that Darren Meade warned them over and over again, and gave the authorities hard evidence and they just ignored him. Darren Mead, also, the day after resigning from their company, he went to the authorities. Mead also testified in open court, and they ignored him. Meade was then paid back for his hard work by Zuckerman and the others as they went all over the Internet to destroy Meade's reputation. Zuckerman is only one part of this ripoff to many consumers and businesses who have been bilked maybe out of millions of dollars, maybe more than we will ever know, when you take into consideration all the others who are involved in their plot to destroy Ripoff Report and Google, and to chill the free speech of tens of thousands of consumers and put in danger the millions of consumers who come to rely on the information posted on Ripoff Report. This is one of the core reasons why I started Ripoff Report."
Statement from author:
This is an incredibly complex matter that has been going on for years. I've penned another story on this white collar crime operation that can be read at http://www.ripoffreport.com/business-consultants/adam-zuckerman/adam-zuckerman-progenex-merc-1cb2b.htm. The reader should know that I am going to continue to report on this white collar crime operation in the coming weeks and months. Next, I'm going to be reporting on how a string of civil/complicit attorneys, and their actions, made these crimes possible.
"Glenn Puit is one of the nations most respected journalists. He spent two decades covering law enforcement and criminal justice as a reporter. He was for 12 years a lead criminal justice system reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, where he covered matters of corruption, violent crime, and the courts. Puit was twice voted Best Print Reporter in Las Vegas.
Puit was the first reporter in the nation to identify John Doe #2 in the Oklahoma City bombing. The accomplishment was featured in American Journalism Review.
He is also a five-time national author. Puit is now writing a book about the criminal case of Adam Zuckerman."
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 01/26/2012 10:54 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/update-june-1-2015-investigation-update-ben-smith-sac-county-iowa-attorney-charges-against-darren-meade-dropped-sac-county-attorney-ben-smith-dismisses-all-criminal-charges-against-darren-meade-related-to-his-posts-on-ripoff-report-sac-county-iowa-attorney-ben-smith-fails-to-identify-false-statements-fails-to-support-his-accusations-with-clarifications/costa-mesa-california-92626/update-june-1-2015-investigation-update-charges-against-darren-meade-droppedn-829020. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
Click Here to read other Ripoff Reports on Update June 1, 2015: INVESTIGATION UPDATE – Ben Smith Sac County Iowa Attorney; Charges against Darren Meade dropped! Sac County Attorney Ben Smith dismisses all criminal charges against Darren Meade related to his posts on Ripoff Report. | Sac County Iowa Attorney Ben Smith fails to identify false statements, fails to support his accusations with clarifications.
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