Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lawyers and their role to cover up fraud

Recently, it was revealed that a whistleblower site "Science Fraud" which was beset by various legal threats since it pointed out a LOT of suspicious research in published papers, has decided to cease operations.

Read more about Science Fraud's shutdown here

This is indeed a sad day for science, esp. when the editor of the blog pointed out suspicious data in over 300 papers, and many of which were subsequently retracted. However, one of those folks chose to fight back, not with facts, but with legal threats sent by a lawyer in the form of a "cease and desist" letter.

Vast majority of scientific research is legitimate, and a handful are corrected, and even a few will face retraction... i.e. "forget we ever published this", but that rate is rising. According to an article in Nature, while the number of papers published went up only 44%, the number of retractions have gone up from 30... to 400, an increase of well over 1000 percent. In a survey, 1-2% of all scientists admits to "fudging" (okay, falsifying) some research data.

When scientists, the people we trust, are fudging data, what do you think the scammers are doing?

Scammer's first reaction often is to hire "reputation managers", then if that doesn't work, send in the lawyers.

FHTM, the pyramid scheme that was just shut down by FTC, was believed to have hired reputation managers to shut down websites of one of its critics (and a former member), Joe Isaacs. Isaacs was also hit with lawsuits.

Zeek Rewards hired multiple MLM lawyers and consultants and paraded their names for credibility. Nehra and Waak was their compliance lawyers, while Grimes and Reese were hired for member compliance training. Keith Laggos was hired for other compliance matters. However, in the few months before the shutdown by SEC, a reputation manager was brought in to take over the company, and to blast the critics, such as the author of this blog, including filing a bogus takedown notice. 

Now, Bidify has raised the stakes when it requested its attorney Kevin Thompson to issue a cease and desist against the website allegedly launched by Bidify's former CEO Albert Liske to expose the "fraud" behind Bidify.

While everybody deserves representation, should lawyers be more... choosy when it comes to what clients they choose to represent, esp. when their own names will be forever associated with the particular company, whether good or ill? This is not the first time suspect companies paraded MLM lawyer's name as a part of their marketing material. Kevin Thompson's name was used by a scheme which hired an web actor to be its unnamed spokesperson. 

Or a better question is... should MLM attorneys be more active in the MLM community, such as pointing out obviously illegal schemes? Nobody pointed out the illegal signs of Zeek until AFTER Zeek was shutdown by SEC, then attorneys and advocates started speaking up.

If they won't, then who should?

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