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Jeweler Forged Judge's Signature To Force Google To Kill Negative Reviews (thedailybeast.com) 52

A sapphire salesman is facing jail time for forging a judge's signature in a case involving Google. Kelly Weill from The Daily Beast reports: Michael Arnstein is the third-generation owner of the Natural Sapphire Company, a Manhattan-based jewelry business. After a falling-out with a former business partner, Arnstein's company amassed dozens of negative reviews, which featured prominently in the Natural Sapphire Company's Google search results. Arnstein sued the former business partner in 2011, accusing him of writing defamatory negative reviews, and a judge ordered the partner to delete 54 of the negative comments. But some negative reviews remained, even after the court order. So Arnstein copied the judge's signature and forged new court orders of his own, demanding that Google scrub negative reviews from his company's search results, Arnstein admitted in a guilty plea on Friday.
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Jeweler Forged Judge's Signature To Force Google To Kill Negative Reviews

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2017 @08:56PM (#55222965)

    Forging the signature of a judge to circumvent the checks and balances of the legal system. What a simple idea. There's absolutely no way that that could go wrong - after all, court orders aren't logged in a central system; the recipient of the order can't check back with the court to verify it; and it couldn't possibly come back upon the forger.

    Right? Right?

    • Forging the signature of a judge to circumvent the checks and balances of the legal system. What a simple idea. There's absolutely no way that that could go wrong - after all, court orders aren't logged in a central system; the recipient of the order can't check back with the court to verify it; and it couldn't possibly come back upon the forger.

      Right? Right?

      Criminals are stupid. He simply wasn't stupid enough to make his crime worth it.

      Generally you find that level of stupidity and arrogance in the banking and auto industry where it's a job prerequisite for executives...

    • To be fair, the legal system is not all that secure, compared to the checks and balances that go into most online services, such as two factor authentication, cryptographic keys and certificate authorities, etc.

      It would not take all that much to create a fake jurisdiction with a phone number, an address, and a website, invent a fake judge, and then send court orders to Google to "remove" things from the internet, or to request disclosure of private information. Google receives so many legal requests, and ha
  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @08:58PM (#55222981)

    When a company has a bad reputation, and customers avoid it, it has negative brand equity [wikipedia.org], and the brand is worth less than nothing. The simple and obvious solution is to change the name of the business, or start a new business and transfer the assets. This would have likely been far cheaper than paying legal expenses and then slowly rebuilding the brand upward from Death Valley.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There's a trick the reputation companies do (basically fraud).

      1. AC writes a bad review of a company X.
      2. X files a defamation case against AC
      3. A person comes forward admitting they are the AC, and agrees their comment is defamation
      4. The person coming forward is a fraudster working for a reputation management company, not the real AC.
      5. X goes to court with AC's testimony, confirming it is defamation and demands internet company takes down comment.

      Judges are wising up to this particular trick, but I'm sur

  • I hope he was sure it was worth the risk because to me this seems like a dumb reason to risk jail time and really bad PR.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @09:15PM (#55223043)

    The guy did something illegal and is now going to jail. To my mind, the system worked as it’s supposed to in this case.

    • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday September 18, 2017 @09:47PM (#55223163) Homepage Journal

      The guy did something illegal and is now going to jail. To my mind, the system worked as it’s supposed to in this case.

      Does it have to be a problem for it to be interesting?

    • I do think it's telling of Slashdots history that the immediate thought on many people's minds with these sorts of stories is "wait a minute, there's nothing to be outraged about here, why is this story here?!"

      It shows that Slashdot had pushed the outrage stance significantly in the past - with many of its readership conditioned as a result.

      There is no outrage to be had here - it's posted because it has a Google connection most likely. The guy did bad, is going to jail for it, not sure anyone can dispute t

    • No, no problem. It's actually good news.

      The more people hear of this, the less likely they're going to send forged legal documents signed by a judge to Google (and possibly to other companies). And the less people do this type of crime, the more time and resources the FBI can dedicate to other problems.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Stuff like this is happening more often. The more it happens, the more abuses happen and the more people don't get caught.

      One trick that businesses use against workers is to present their argument as if it were a court decision. The first notice that you get from the court tells you that the case is already decided and they have already ruled against you and they have established matters of fact that cannot be overturned on appeal. In my case I had a judge who was very friendly to my position and I had brou

  • by SeattleLawGuy ( 4561077 ) on Monday September 18, 2017 @09:30PM (#55223087)

    Yes, bad reviews are terrible for a business, and often unfair. Lawsuits are usually the wrong way to respond to those, and positive reviews from satisfied customers are usually a great way to respond to those--but lawsuits are an option if someone keeps making illegitimate complaints and it hurts your business enough, or if someone is using them to harass your employees, for example.

    You know what's not an option?

    Forging court orders.

    • by mlyle ( 148697 )

      Yah, it's clearly not OK but I can't help but have some sympathy for the guy. He was targeted with illegitimate reviews; fought one round in the courts and prevailed; and then maybe couldn't afford/stomach another battle.

      • There's a world of difference between defamatory and just plain negative - he won the case to remove defamatory reviews, and almost certainly wouldn't have a case for removing simply negative reviews.

        So he didn't bother with the case.

        The judge said "delete 54", not "delete all", and there was a reason for that - a reason this guy obviously disagreed with.

      • User reviews are suspect to begin with.

        I can't tell you the number of great shops I've been to that have had really terrible reviews posted.

        * A guitar shop I frequent had a 1 star review posted (because 0 stars are not possible) because the owner asked him to get control of his kids. Ernie is a nice guy, but not the most socially graceful, and I could see him cursing. So the guy went off in his review about how bad a person the shopkeep was, never once thinking "Hey maybe having unsupervised children in a

  • ... at least get something that is worth the risk. Scrubbing negative review from google search? Dumb people be, dumb people do.
  • he pretty much got screwed twice , his lawyer should had asked for google history to be scrubbed cleaned//
  • That's why those of us in lapidary circles on FB and other places tend to get our rubies and sapphires from people that do the mining themselves. Well, I mine my own, since you can find ruby and sapphire in California.

UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn

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