Now here’s something that’s caught my eye..and disturbed it.

Wired.com has pieced together evidence that suggests a reputation “attack” site is in cahoots with a reputation “repair” site. I almost didn’t finish the story–after all, it seemed like just another “guy gets a bad Google reputation, hires an ORM firm” piece.

Then I saw this:

Florida.arrests.org is the brainchild of a computer-savvy Florida ex-con named Rob Wiggen…

and…

“Philip Cabibi Mugshot,” read the title. The description was “Mug shot for Philip Cabibi booked into the Pinellas County jail.”

then…

Cabibi paid RemoveSlander $399 by credit card, and within a day, the site had come through. His mug shot was gone from florida.arrests.org, and his Google results were clean.

here’s the kicker…

Wiggen said he has provided RemoveSlander an URL for an automated takedown script on his site.  A PayPal payment of just $9.95 will automatically purge a mug shot from the site. For an expedited removal from Google’s index, which Wiggen’s code performs through Google’s Webmaster tools interface, the fee is $19.90. Wiggen said other removal sites also make use of that same URL, but he declined to name them.

So, if I am reading this right, Florida.arrests.org get’s $20 each time an ORM firm uses its script–750 have been removed thus far. RemoveSlander nets about $380, and they both move on to the next “customer”–all without much effort.

Wow! What’s next, the same guy owning both the attack site and the removal site?

Is there a lesson here? Sure, don’t do the crime if you can’t do the Google facetime. Oh, and always contact the attack site first and see if they have a “program” that ensures your information is removed. Cut out the middleman! ;-)

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