Back in 2016, a "reputation management" company called Profile Defenders was caught forging court orders in order to get complaints about its clients removed from the site Pissed Consumer. This was a monumentally stupid thing to do, as judges are consistently unamused with people who forge their signatures.
The latest reputation management shenanigans involve a lower-stakes legal forgery. Pissed Consumer has found that the notarized documents from people who'd complained about New York's Luxsport Motor Group (a used car dealership) asking to have their complaints removed were fraudulent. Though they were apparently notarized by a real notary public, the people whose signatures were supposedly on these documents denied ever having signed them.
It's not clear who is behind the fraud, nor whether the notary public was duped by someone using fake ID to impersonate someone, whether their seal was forged, or whether they were in on the fraud. But the fraudulent letters were supposedly signed by people from across the USA and even overseas, and the notary public is located in the same state as Luxsport's head office.
After Pissed Consumer restored the fraudulently removed review, it got another notarized letter, supposedly signed by the original author, this one vouched for by a notary in Washington state.
And so we started digging and investigating further. We found out that:
4 notarized letters according to which we removed the reviews about Luxsport Motor Group were notarized by one and the same notary public from New York – [REDACTED]
coincidentally, Luxsport Motor Group is headquartered in New York
interestingly, the posters whose letters were notarized by the same New York notary public, [REDACTED], posted their reviews not just from different parts of the US but from different continents
when we checked correspondence we received from, allegedly, the authors of the above-mentioned 4 notarized letters – it turns out that it was their 2nd notarized letter that was accepted in 3 cases; we did not accept the initial notarized letters and wrote them about it, they did not respond and then some time later the second "good" notarized letter came in.
We confronted Luxsport Motor Group about them deceiving Pissed Consumer into removing content on the basis of fake notarized letters. We let them know that such unlawful and deceptive actions constitute fraud and abuse of process. Here are just some statements that we received in response:
"… Pissed Consumer has wrongly claimed that reviews were improperly removed…"
"… [the owner] feels [Pissed Consumer] is pursuing meritless claims…"
"…Pissed Consumer is actively trying to damage LuxSport's reputation and negatively affect its business by trying to facilitate disparaging comments about LuxSport..", etc.
How NOT To Remove Reviews − a Story about Fake Notarized Letters
Pissed Consumer Exposes New York Luxury Car Dealer's Use Of Bogus Notarized Letters To Remove Critical Reviews [Tim Cushing/Techdirt]
UPDATE: A their request, the name of the notary public was omitted from this post and redacted from the excerpt of the linked item. The notary public accuses another individual of stealing their stamp and performing the notarizations. – Rob