Those among us who frequent Ebay know how important the seller review icon is.
For those who are not familiar, the seller review icon shows the percentage of buyers whom have had a positive buying experience from that individual seller.
Face it, you feel nervous about turning over your bank account information or credit card numbers to a seller who has only a few reviews or more importantly a couple of negative reviews.
Now imagine that you are not just buying a little trinket on some random website. Now you are trying to hire someone to represent you in a legal matter, manage your money or deal with the IRS on an important tax audit. For the 96% of Americans who do a basic Google search on anyone they might invite into their personal or professional life, viewing negative information online might put an end to that relationship before it has a chance to begin. It can be a matter of life or death for a business. Instead of one bad review what if there were dozens?
Now imagine that every one of these bad reviews is entirely made up by a jealous ex-spouse out to destroy their former partner. A successful business on the line, employee’s jobs, their families and the years spent by the owner growing that business and developing a good reputation. What would you do if this happened to you?
Incredibly, very little and a whole lot at the same time.
In 1995 Nevine Carmelle went to work for an attorney who hired her as an accountant. He wasn’t making much money and had been having legal problems with the State Bar and various clients. This attorney took an interest in Nevine after she was able to help the attorney settle his problems with the state bar and managed to make his clients happy as well. His interest in this girl grew and eventually they got married. Well she thought they were married but this one only the first scam he pulled on her. Actually this was not a legal marriage. Yes there was a wedding dress, a tuxedo, pictures by a lake and a ceremony but there was no marriage license.
Unaware of these dastardly deeds Nevine and the attorney continued with their lives and grew this law practice into a $6 million per year enterprise. They eventually built a new office building that had a Jacuzzi, a sauna, swimming pool, bedroom, kitchen and showers. A literal Taj Mahal.
The attorney became very aggressive in his business practices and Nevine started to feel uncomfortable with his unethical behavior. She refused to go along with his schemes and because of that he began to physically abuse her. One time she had to go to the emergency room because he beat her severely, because the attorney wanted her to sign over the deed for her house to him and she refused. The ER doctor had contacted the police and even though Nevine refused to press charges, the injuries were so severe that the District Attorney prosecuted anyhow. The attorney ended up pleading guilty.
Soon after Nevine was trying to obtain health insurance for their son on the attorney’s business health care plan and unexpectedly discovered the attorney had seven more outside children and three other wives. It almost sounds like a Temptation’s song. Once again, these women all thought they were married to this attorney. Some of these other women were illegal immigrants and some uneducated, did not work, relied on the attorney for total support and each had no idea about the others, except for Nevine! How did one man keep up this façade for so long? This story is documented in the local newspapers.
Even after the arrest and public exposure with a local newspaper the three women did not want to leave this attorney. But not Nevine, she filed family law action. This attorney specialized in asset protection and hiding income from creditors, especially spouses and he used every scheme he had to try and avoid taking care of his son with Nevine.
Nevine spent over $600,000 in legal fees proving that the attorney was making $6 million per year and not the $2,500/month he tried to convince the judge he was earning. His three outside wives testified on the attorney’s behalf naturally in these circumstances. They had plenty to lose. The attorney shows up in court with a cane and severe limp claiming he needed surgery post haste and needed to have the hearings postponed indefinitely. But the Nevine knew his tricks and her attorneys had detectives surveil her husband before the court hearing. They videotaped him riding scooters with his children earlier in the day. They also had evidence of him after court throwing his cane in the trunk and running around the car to get out there.
Eventually Nevine won a judgment against him and went to work rebuilding her life and starting her own legal service business.
During one courtroom hearing the attorney noticed Nevine driving a new Mercedes and in a fit of rage crafted a plot to try and destroy her new business venture. He created fake posts, emails and reviews of her business in an attempt to bankrupt her. He posted horrific lies on all the social media websites, impersonated her and her attorneys and even impersonated fake names as if they were clients. He would write vicious, slanderous posts on social media websites and then respond to his original posts impersonating Nevine, in order to make his accusations more believable. This was a one man wrecking crew intent on destroying what she was able to build for her family. These slanderous actions caused her an enormous disruption in her business, loss of clientele and massive loss of income.
Once again, Nevine stood up for herself and filed a police report. Due to a sympathetic ear from one special detective who went above and beyond the call of duty, they were able to trace all of these fake posts directly to her ex-husband. The police seized his computers and criminal charges were once again filed against the disbarred attorney.
Criminal cases are complex and can take years to come to fruition. Getting back to this whole cyber-bullying issue is the fact that all of these false Internet posts are still online on dozens of websites. When these websites were contacted they refused to take down the offending posts even though the police report clearly proves that the attorney was responsible. The claim they are waiting for the court case to proceed. A case like this, especially for an attorney who knows how to work the system could take years to resolve.
In the meantime the innocent is victimized over and over again. Some of the posts claim that Nevine is a transvestite who recently had a sex change operation and that she ran a gay brothel out of her business office. (Meet her once and you will laugh at that one.) They also claim that she ripped off her clients and stole money from them. This is the equivalent of a rape victim being assaulted over and over again every day of her life.
What about the thousands of people who are slandered like this every day online? Those who do not have the legal and financial means to bring a case to court. The police will almost never investigate and prosecute these crimes.
The European Union recently ruled that Google, the world’s largest search engine must remove websites from their search engine that are not relevant or factually accurate. Why do we not have this same level of protection from cyber-bullying victims here in the United States? If anything Google is an unindicted co-conspirator in these cyber-bullying episodes. Since Google is so entrenched in our Federal Government who will fight this behemoth. In 2014 Google contributed $3,891,000.00 to mostly democratic PACs and candidates. They have also spent $13,680,000.00 in lobbying efforts. Exactly 98 of 122 Google lobbyists previously have worked for the federal government.
Since when is Slander and Libel free speech in America?