According to recently unsealed court documents, RipOffReport.com (ROR) and its founder are under investigation and may face criminal charges for a conspiracy that includes extortion, obstruction of justice and witness tampering in connection with a 2011 murder trial of Tracy Richter, who was the ex-wife of one of ROR’s most vocal critics – Michael Roberts.
Ben Smith, District Attorney for Sac County, Iowa is taking on the most notorious gripe site on the internet. To say this is a David versus Goliath battle is an understatement since Sac County has a population of 10,071, whereas ROR has that many unique visitors every 45 minutes.
The 124-page document details how a ROR smear campaign against Roberts escalated and stumbled into Sac County by including witnesses in the Richter trial and even Smith himself, as his face is on every one of the 1.8 million pages of ROR content. Smith contends there is “no greater threat to our the livelihoods and personal reputations of the people brave enough to testify against them in open court.”
The investigation will have a major impact on the reputation management space, since the document reveals widespread use of potentially illegal SQL technology to remove listings by many reputation management companies – including Reputation.com. This raises serious questions as to whether reputation management companies merely mechanized and optimized online defamation to generate business for themselves.