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The Internet and its Reach
The Internet provides a powerful voice and platform for users. Each day, individuals engage in debate of hot topics, discuss life experiences, post photos on social media, issue warnings and give advice about various scams, hustles, and unethical business practices.
Although the Internet can be a transparent and constructive tool for users to express their voices and disseminate information, it can also have negative effects and have a devastating impact on innocent parties. Even parties who post and circulate information in good faith, can still negatively affect innocent parties, for instance, if they have an incorrect understanding or perception of an event or information.
The harsh reality is that countless Internet websites provide malicious, naive, and misinformed individuals with a platform to spread lies, mischaracterize events or agreements, and spread false, negative, and defamatory information to hundreds, or even millions of other Internet users. Take for instance, ScamFound.com, one of the most popular online platforms for users to report scams and unethical business practices. Let’s take a closer look.
Defamation Law Fact: Want to create a more positive digital footprint? Taking simple steps such as tightening up your privacy settings, deactivating or deleting certain accounts, or even writing a short post promoting yourself, can have a dramatic effect on what shows up in internet search results.
The Basics: What is ScamFound.com?
ScamFound.com is a popular online platform for users to report scams across the world. Although online scam reporting sites can be a valuable tool for preventing future scams, oftentimes, they often have poor vetting and verification procedures to ensure information posted is 100% accurate.
Simple misperceptions by users can not only result in harm and damage to innocent individuals reputation, but can often spill over into their livelihood, affecting their business, professional life, and much more.
ScamFound.com’s Trust Score
According to SEMrush, an online marketing keyword research program, ScamFound.com boasts a “trust score” of 10/100. Their “trust score” is calculated based on the number of referring links from high quality and trusted websites. For example, Google’s trust score is 99/100, placing it at the very top of trusted websites and platforms. A website’s trust factor is based on several factors, including:
- The quality of the content,
- The number of links directing users to the website,
- The quality of those links,
- Inbound links from authoritative sources, such as .edu and .gov websites,
- How long users stay on the page, and
- The quantity and quality of links directing users to the home page.
ScamFound’s trust score puts it at the bottom of the barrel for trustworthiness, affirming the information posted on it is likely low quality content, unverifiable fact, or unconstructive. In order to ruin or besmirch a reputation, sometimes, all it takes is one malicious, poorly thought out post, even if it’s posted on an untrustworthy website.
Don’t let a malicious or misinformed user ruin your reputation, business, or livelihood. When managing your digital footprint, make sure to stay vigilant and proactive. Doing so could be the difference between sink or swim.
If you, or your business, has been falsely attacked or defamed online, the Cleveland-based attorneys of Minc, LLC will fight to have the false and defamatory review removed. At Minc, LLC, we have a longstanding history of removing defamatory posts and reviews, all for a reasonable fee. To schedule a free confidential consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or contact us online.
Defamation Law Fact: When identifying false and defamatory content posted online, individuals often misidentify online written content as “slander,” when in fact it is actually “libel.” Slander is a false spoken statement made to a third party, while libel is a false written statement published to a third party.
Who Can Be Reported on Scamfound.com?
ScamFound.com is an online web bulletin board where users can report persons, businesses, and other professionals. It offers a wide range of topics, scams, and hustles, where users can report offenders. When first landing on the site, at the top of the page, you are presented with three sections; Copyright Information, Report Scam, and their Terms & Conditions. The middle portion of the website has a chronological list of all scams, and “breaking news” alerts about various scam artists and other offenders.
ScamFound.com’s bulletin board serves as a catch-all forum for users “to post and research consumer complaints.” However, users of the site take this description to the extreme, writing about businesses, individuals, and everything under the sun they feel constitutes a scam.
Defamation Law Fact: At the federal level, the United States does not have any criminal defamation or insult laws. However, as of 2005, 17 states and 2 territories have drafted and codified criminal defamation laws in their books.
Current posts on the board include complaints about Internet companies, accusations of individuals being drug dealers, car and car dealer complaints, and handyman scam allegations. The board provides users with numerous sections to post grievances, warnings, and other advice. Such scam sections include:
- Auction Scams,
- Classified Scams,
- Dating and Romance Scams,
- Escort and Safety Scams,
- Insurance Scams,
- Internet Scams,
- Lawyer and Attorney Scams, and
- Lottery Scams.
Although the sections only appear to cover lawyers as the only professional group, there are numerous instances where doctors, accountants, and other licensed professionals have been reported. Additionally, they have a “General Discussion” category, where scams and hustles not falling within one of the above categories can be broadcasted and discussed.
Defamation Law Fact: Common examples of defamation include communications which suggest; a person was a party to a serious crime, expose a person to ridicule, reflect negatively on a person’s character and integrity, suggest a person suffers from a serious mental or physical defect, or significantly damage a person’s financial well-being.
Clearly, ScamFound.com covers a broad array of scams, allowing for users to warn against almost any category of scam imaginable. Unfortunately, the site is rather basic, and doesn’t have property security and verification procedures in place to ensure innocent parties are protected. Anyone, including you, your family, or your business can be written about in great detail on the site.
Can I Sue ScamFound.com to Hold Them Liable For False Posts?
If you’ve been defamed or lied about on ScamFound.com, you’re probably wondering if you can hold them liable for operating as a third-party platform publishing such posts. Many individuals, business owners, and other professionals want to hold them liable for defamatory and malicious content posted on their website, and think that just because the information appears on their site, that ScamFound.com should be responsible and liable for it.
Unfortunately, ScamFound.com isn’t liable for such false and defamatory posts and accusations. Implemented in 1996, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provides broad protection and immunity for internet service providers who publish information posted by third-party users. Section 230 of the CDA states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Defamation Law Fact: When bringing an action for defamation, an injured party must be able to clearly demonstrate the injurious and false statement specifically referred to them. This doesn’t mean a false statement must specifically identify a plaintiff by name, but should reasonably cause persons to believe the statement was made about them.
While, at first glance, it seems unfair that the platform publishing such false and malicious content isn’t held liable, it’s important to understand the purpose of the CDA in the greater context of the law. Think about a phone company, or postal service. Just as mail carriers drop off letters in your mailbox, and a phone companies provide users with a phone line to talk to one another, interactive computer service providers merely provide the “vehicle” for information dissemination, and aren’t the true creators of malicious content.
If you’ve received a malicious letter from an acquaintance or stranger, you don’t immediately think to bring a lawsuit against the United States Postal Service, or mail carrier who delivered you that letter. Additionally, if someone insults you or makes false statements about you on the phone, your first instinct isn’t to sue Comcast or AT&T.
Ohio Scam Warning: In December, 2017, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine issued a warning to residents advising them to be on the lookout for fake federal grants. Scammers are phoning up Ohio residents and offering them federal grants after asking them to cough up a small fee. In 2017 alone, over 50 residents have reported being scammed, with some being taken for nearly $50,000.
If I Can’t Hold ScamFound.com Liable for False and Libelous Posts, Then Who Can I?
Keep in mind that while Section 230 of the CDA covers internet service providers, those same protections and immunities don’t apply to individual users and posters. Individual posters can be held liable for the malicious, defamatory, and false content they post on ScamFound.com and other third-party internet platforms.
Of course, there’s a great deal of legal and investigative work that goes into identifying and suing an individual poster, so action of this type doesn’t always make financial sense. Reaching out to an Internet defamation removal attorney is an effective way to save time and headache when identifying malicious individual posters and holding them liable.
Defamation Law Fact: Truth, consent, and opinion are three popular defenses to libel and slander claims. Courts usually only require a statement be substantially true in order protect defendants, bar claims where a plaintiff consented to the statement, and look to whether a reasonable listener, or reader, would understand the statement to be one of verifiable fact when considering opinion as a defense.
How Can I Remove Defamatory Posts From ScamFound.com?
Despite ScamFound.com’s obvious security and verification flaws, they do recognize the reality that malicious users can post false and libelous information on their website. It’s not unheard of for rival business owners to post false reviews of the other’s company, or for scorned lovers to falsely accuse ex-spouses of running a dating or romance scam.
The good news is, injured individuals and businesses do have the ability to remove defamatory and false posts from ScamFound.com. However, there is a caveat, the injured party must be able to prove that the information is indeed false. Section 5, of ScamFound.com’s terms and conditions states, “We reserve the right, but are not obligated, to delete or remove profanity, obscenities, threats of physical violence or damage to property, and private financial information such as social security numbers and credit card information.”
When submitting a removal request to ScamFound.com, make sure you compile substantial evidence to support your claim. Include all conversations, screenshots, and any other supporting information that establishes unequivocal evidence the report or post on their site is false.
Additionally, if you find a defamatory review or post includes a photograph, text, or other proprietary work of yours, filing a DMCA takedown for copyright infringement is often an effective alternative to bringing a defamation claim.
Working with an Internet defamation removal attorney who frequently assists in the gathering of supporting evidence, and presentation of it, will increase the likelihood that false reports and libel will be removed from a site. Furthermore, Cleveland attorney Aaron Minc will be sure to follow-up with the website where the offensive material is posted, strategize alternative takedown methods, and help gather additional evidence if requested.
Defamation Law Fact: Due to heightened enforcement of the First Amendment, the United States is generally considered a “defendant-friendly” jurisdiction in the world of defamation law.
Work With Internet Defamation Lawyers to Effectively Remove False Posts
ScamFound.com may not be the most highly trafficked bulletin board for exposing scams and other complaints, but even a smaller site can have a lasting and negative impact on you, or your business’s, reputation and livelihood.
The Internet defamation removal attorneys of Minc, LLC will fight to remove false reports and reviews from ScamFound.com. Aaron Minc, and his team of lawyers in Cleveland Ohio are experienced in permanently removing content and holding offending parties liable, and all for a reasonable fee. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or contact us online.