Consumerist sued by Cash4Gold after critical blog posts

IANAL, but sure sounds like a SLAPP to me. Ben and Meg of Consumerist report that the consumer watchdog blog has been named in a lawsuit by an apparently allegedly reportedly purportedly sleazebag internet pawnshop. Above, all the proof you need: MC Hammer and Ed McMahon in the Cash4Gold Super Bowl ad. Snip:

The whistleblower's post appeared on ComplaintsBoard last November. We featured it this February, as part of our ongoing coverage of Cash4Gold, after the company raised its public profile with a multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad. The post was indeed written by an ex-employee, Michele Liberis, who is now being sued by the company for defamation. Recently, Cash4Gold added Consumerist and ComplaintsBoard as co-defendants in its lawsuits (PDF) against Liberis and another former employee, Vielka Nephew (PDF), in an attempt to force us to take the information down. Liberis and Nephew have chosen to stand up to Cash4Gold's legal attack, and so have we.

We believe citizens, consumers, and employees should be able to exercise their free-speech rights online - and journalists should be able to report on those efforts - without fear of intimidation. That belief is at the core of what makes Consumerist tick. And it's what keeps the internet from being just a brochure with hyperlinks. Inside, more about this episode and what goes on behind the public façade of a company that bills itself as "World's #1 Gold Buyer."

The Article Cash4Gold Doesn't Want You To Read (Consumerist via Brian Lam)


  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Consumerist is now owned by Consumer’s Union (the Consumer’s Report people) and aren’t part of the Gawker empire any longer.

    This actually seems like good news, though; Cash4gold would have an easier time stomping poor Ms Liberis into submission versus trying to take on Consumer’s Union and their significantly deeper legal defense pockets. Hopefully the lawsuit just raises the profile of the reports of their shenanigans.

  2. [argh, I mixed singular and plural when referring to Consumerist. Ahh well, you have to have at least one mistake in a comment pointing out the mistakes of others.]

  3. Holy shit.

    I always suspected Cash4Gold was a scam, but I can’t believe the hell that they unearthed.

    Why is it that whistleblowers always seem to get swallowed up by the courts? She is being charged for contempt of court despite the courts having the evidence that she complied with their requests? I hold the court in contempt of court!

    Any court system that allows individuals to be overrun by corporations because one can afford expensive lawyers and the other can’t is completely broken.

    More proof that the law doesn’t protect you; you need protection from the law.

  4. So Cash4Gold tries to pay as little as possible for a valuable commodity and then resell it at a higher price? What am I missing here? How are they suppose to pay for those 2.4 mil Super bowl ads?

  5. “Why is it that whistleblowers always seem to get swallowed up by the courts?”

    This is so true. What bothers me is that as a result, people start thinking that “defamation” is nothing more than saying something negative about someone else (like exposing the unethical practices of a business) when “defamation” is the willful spreading of lies (that you know to be lies), with an intent to do harm. In other words: malice.

    Of course, CFG is trying to prove that what was said isn’t true, but the thing I’ve found when companies casually toss around lawsuits like this is that people then popularly think that “defamation” means “you revealed our business practices to the public and now we are mad and going to sue you” and become scared to speak out. Make Hulk angry.

  6. That Facebook profile (apparently now deleted from FB, alas) at the bottom of the Consumerist page is priceless. I know from reading the late HST’s “The Curse of Lono” that you can indeed use a .45 (or a Hawaiian war club) to administer the coup-de-grace to a caught marlin, but jeez! Painting the docked boat with fish brains isn’t an attempt to leave a certain impression, is it?

  7. For the record, the Consumerist is owned by Consumers Union, the famous non-profit group that owns Consumer Reports.

    This isn’t a fly-by-night blog, this is a major consumer advocacy site.

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