Sunday, September 30, 2012

Irresponsible Statements: Someone else said it (ain't my problem)

Ever read a "supermarket tabloid", with tabloid journalism which almost always involves sensationalism? Here's one example:

Yes, this one is a bit old, but you get the idea what sort of stuff's printed in such tabloids.

Do people sue them for defamation? All the time. Most of the time the tabloid can prove that they got the info from somebody and thus they are simply "reporting" what somebody else said. Thus, they are covered. Whether it's true or not is not their problem.

This is almost at complete odds of a "real" newspaper who actually research the information to make sure it is reasonably true before printing it. And even then, some newspapers are taken by hoaxes and had to issue corrections, apologies, and such.

Unfortunately, much of the information, esp. when it comes to income opportunities, are of the tabloid type, not the newspaper type, in that people will simply reprint / retweet / repost what someone else said, without checking whether it's true or not. And with the proliferation of social networks, tabloid-style info is spreading faster than ever, even though the fact-checking to defeat tabloid-style info is easier than ever.

A very good example came up recently. Someone started a rumor that when Samsung lost the case to Apple, it sent 10 big rigs full of pennies to Apple HQ in Cupertino and threaten to dump them in Apple's parking lot and demand a receipt. Didn't happen of course, but it got retweeted / +1's / liked bazillion times.

So what does this had to do with scams? When certain self-proclaimed EXPERT in the field (no, not me) decided to print rumors regarding a scam on his website. Not just simple hearsay, but FOURTH HAND hearsay.

(1) This "expert" received an email, written by
(2) someone who allegedly heard from
(3) this guy (RC) who heard from
(4) an attorney who heard from
(5) a Fed who prosecuted the Ponzi
...that a recent ponzi (that got shut down by the Feds) is not really a Ponzi.

Instead of dismissing such worthless multi-level hearsay as unworthy of his and his readers' attention, he reposted the email on his website (making it FIFTH-HAND hearsay) with a question mark at the end of the subject, and a disclaimer that he contacted the guy RC who can neither confirm or deny what was in the email.

What's worse is this sort of "close the curtain and claim the train is moving" reality denial is the same sort perpetrated by followers of another ponzi scheme called Ad Surf Daily, which was closed by SEC in 2008. The follower filed a lawsuit against the prosecutors, the Secret Service agents who went undercover, the judge, and so on and so forth, claiming Secret Service's testimony was a "tissue of lies". All of this guy's lawsuits were tossed out of court. And this particular guy also joined the ponzi that was closed by SEC more than 3 weeks ago.

NOTE: The really hilarious part about this lawsuit is the guy, who's an affiliate, not a part of management, claims that the secret service agents who went undercover "violated ASD company policy" by not identify themselves as government agents.

But this EXPERT in the field, who initially decided this scam was iffy, then suddenly changed his mind two months later, and believed that the owners couldn't possibly be scammers. Even after the Ponzi scam was shut down he still somehow believed that "International Ponzi Ring" had somehow infiltrated the company and "changed" it into a Ponzi.

And now he reprinted this hearsay, when he usually print actual NEWS items that he can verify. But note that he did put in enough of a disclaimer (a question mark and a disclaimer on top) that when critics say why did you print this piece supporting the scam, he can say "I didn't really believe it".

UPDATE: This expert since re-published an article by a REAL expert on Ponzi scheme.

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