UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has compiled information on phony anti-libel takedown injuctions in an aptly named Shenanigans (Internet Takedown Edition), which will published in the forthcoming Utah Law Review, 2020.
Professor Volokh’s informative 55 page treatise can be found online and features, among other things, the shenanigans of “reputation manager” and AnnuitySold fraud Richart Ruddie, who was mentioned 14 times, in conjunction with a multi state de-indexing scam tied to Ruddie’s “reputation management” company, that was uncovered in 2016. The Richart Ruddie scam included a Rhode Island case, which used a check from RIR1984 LLC, a company started by him, Owings Mills high school chum Ryan Blank and a California lawyer, to fund the cost of a process server and the documents were sent to the process server in California using an AnnuitySold email. In January 2018, AnnuitySold and related structured settlement factoring companies associated with Richart Ruddie and Ryan Blank were later banned from doing business in Maryland for 7 years for other frauds soliciting people with structured settlements.
Excerpt: “The Rhode Island litigation also uncovered who was responsible: Richart Ruddie, owner of the reputation management companies SEO Profile Defender Network LLC— which had promised “guaranteed removal”(no payment if the removal does not happen) to its customers—and RIR1984 LLC. Ruddie ultimately settled the case in exchange for $71,000, chiefly consisting of Myvesta’s legal fees (a good measure of how much it would have cost Google to challenge the injunction, had it had a legal obligation to comply with it). Ruddie also agreed to ask Florida and Maryland courts to vacate three other court orders that called for the de indexing of Myvesta posts related to Smith’s companies, Smith v. Levin, Financial Rescue LLC v. Smith, and Rescue One Financial LLC v. Doe. In Smith v. Levin, court records included Levin’s ostensible address (the common practice in Maryland); no-one with that name could be found at that address. Professor Volokh confirmed through independent sources that some of the other cases that fit the same modus operandi were likewise filed through Richart Ruddie. The pattern in all these cases appears to have been the same:
1.The company filed a libel lawsuit in the plaintiff’s name against a fake defendant, seeking an injunction
2.The complaint was accompanied with a stipulation supposedly signed by the defendant (but in reality, produced by the company itself).
3.The hope—often realized—was that the trial judge would see that the parties agree on the injunction, and therefore sign the injunction without much fur-ther scrutiny. Indeed, in two cases, a permanent injunction was entered a mere four days after a complaint was filed together with a stipulation.
4.The reputation management company would then send this order to Google or Yelp, asking the platform to deindex or remove the material that the order has ostensibly found to be defamatory”
Volokh’s treatise provides helpful information concerning:
- Stipulated Injunctions Involving Apparently Fake Defendants
- Stipulated Injunctions Involving Fake Notarizations
- Default Judgments Gotten Without Gneuine Attempts to Locate Defendants
- Wag the Dog Injunctions, Sue the Commenter, not the Author
- Buried URL injunction