Victims of false and defamatory reviews on Ripoff Report should be aware that many of these reviews are popping up elsewhere online.  More specifically, it appears that other lesser-established websites are copying the text from recent Ripoff Report posts and publishing them verbatim on their own sites.  Thus, businesses must continue to be watchful of their online reputations/search results, as it is hard to predict when and where another false review – including a repost of an existing one – may appear online.

There is no question that false and defamatory Ripoff Report posts are causing a lot of harm on their own, especially given that the posts typically rank highly in search rankings and the Arizona-based website does not remove any content.  A company that is wrongfully labeled a “ripoff” or scam, for example, will have to wear that label like a scarlet letter indefinitely; anyone who searches the business and stumbles across a Ripoff Report that, unbeknownst to them, is false will have engrained in his or her mind that the company should be avoided.

All of this is to say that the harm caused to businesses by the posting of a false Ripoff Report may be multiplied when a false review is picked up by another website such as Scamorg.com, Private-Complaints.com, usaconsumercomplaints.com, YellowBot.com and who knows where else.

The silver lining, if it can be called that, is that these other websites do not presently have strong search engine strength.  This means these other posts (or re-posts) are typically not appearing too highly on Google, Bing and Yahoo!.  Thus, they are unlikely to command as many views as a Ripoff Report post.  Nevertheless, these websites still do pose a threat.

Being listed on Ripoff Report – even wrongfully – carries plenty of stigma and often turns away prospective customers almost instantly upon seeing the post in, for example, a Google search.  Others may wish to “verify” the Ripoff Report complaint and Google the company name together with words such as “ripoff” or “scam,” increasing the likelihood that they stumble upon these reviews on other websites, further cementing a bad impression of the business in their minds.  Moreover, these websites very well could rise in popularity, which would increase their search engine strength as well as their perceived reliability or trustworthiness.

Locating and De-Indexing Other Posts

Although Ripoff Report URLs can be removed from search engines by obtaining a court order and having the search engines de-index them, the fact remains that the content of these disparaging posts will remain on www.ripoffreport.com.  Accordingly, the statements contained in a false and defamatory post can be copied and published on other websites seemingly at anytime in the future.  In some cases, by the time a link is discovered on another website, the statute of limitations pertaining to that particular link may have run.

Of course, many new Ripoff Report reviews are appearing on websites such as Scamorg.com in a matter of a couple days or even several hours.  In other words, a false post may begin to spread on the internet before a business even realizes the original harmful review was first posted.  Scamorg.com poses a particularly unique challenge, as the company is based out of Russia and its administrators do not make it very easy to remove the content posted there.

From a review of Scamorg.com on the website itself, it seems that the website administrators are generally unwilling to remove the posts (or re-posts), but other times may request a large sum of money in exchange for removal.  In our own experience, we received the following email reply in response to our question about serving a subpoena on them: “We do not provide user information to the third parties.  The subpoenas will be quashed, anyway.”  (Mind you, they would not have standing to quash a subpoena).

When a business discovers a false Ripoff Report post, we recommend copying and pasting some of the text and seeing if it appears elsewhere online.  If so, and if the business is considering obtaining a court order for the purpose of having a search engine de-index the original Ripoff Report post (and related URLs), it can include these new URLs when seeking a court order and injunctive relief.

Since these other websites are presently much less known than Ripoff Report, if the URLs are de-indexed, a prospective customer is unlikely to ever come across them; they will not think to go to a website such as Scamorg.com and run a search of the business.  While the ideal solution would be complete removal of these false reviews, in light of the current version of the Communications Decency Act, the best case scenario at this time is still likely the court order approach.