It was clear that the copyright takedown notice that Horizon Group sent to Google was a fake; the “original article” that went with it was a clear attempt to trick people. In the past few years, Lumen Database and other organizations have studied and written a lot about this type of fraud.
Our review of Horizon Group is therefore very critical because it makes Horizon Group an entity of suspicious character, stupid enough to commit perjury, impersonation, and fraud to manage their (sic) reputation or lack thereof.
Horizon Group attempts fraudulent copyright takedown
Horizon Group attempts fraudulent copyright takedown
A thousand years of reputation can be built (or, in this case, lost) on the actions of a single moment. Horizon Group appears to be concerned about sensitive information being posted online and has decided to take action. In this article, I’ll look into what happened, including how I decided that the takedown requests were fake, what the likely reason was for abusing the DMCA process, and what the possible effects of organized takedown attempts could be.
|Date||June 28, 2021|
|Original Links Targeted||https://www.gowork.pl/opinie_czytaj,837451|
|Lumen Database Records||https://lumendatabase.org/notices/24390169|
Through a lengthy investigative process, I uncovered almost 2700 illegitimate DMCA notices sent to Google – an effort that attempts to unlawfully exploit takedowns and censor real news stories from the web. Unmasking these hidden abuses of our digital legal system was just another step in my research on fake copyright claims.
Within the next few days, we’re going to publish it all. Everything they don’t want you to see. It’ll be pasted all over the internet, on dozens of free-speech platforms, creating a permanent record.
Streisand effect at its finest.
The notices I found use the “back-dated article” technique. With this technique, the wrongful notice sender (or copier) creates a copy of a “true original” article and back-dates it, creating a “fake original” article (an article that is a copy of the true original) that at first glance appears to have been published prior to the true original.
Then, based on the claim that this backdated article is the “original”, the copiers send a DMCA to the relevant online service providers, alleging that the true original is the copied or “infringing” article and that the copied article is the “original”, requesting the takedown of the true original article. After sending the DMCA request, the person who sent the wrong notice takes down the fake original URL, likely to make sure that the article doesn’t stay online in any way. If the takedown notice is successful, this means the disappearance from the internet of information that is most likely to be legitimate speech.
Before we proceed any further, please note the following points which may come in handy as you scroll down and read the rest of the investigation –
- The original article was published legitimately on a website.
- The DMCAs were clearly filed by an imposter, as evident in the Lumen Database records (listed above), as well as seen on the Google Transparency Reports.
- As a response to the complaint, our firm is initiating appropriate measures including filing a counter-notice in order to restore the web page on Google Search. Horizon Group chose not to seek legal guidance despite believing that there were defamatory claims or copyright infringements involved. Our actions are being taken with due care and diligence according to applicable laws and regulations.
In committing numerous offenses, Horizon Group had either premeditated action or was not aware of the consequences. Despite hiring an agency to make Google disregard any negative information about him, ignorance does not excuse his wrongdoings. What could he have expected from this outside source that could possibly help resolve his situation? Was he hoping for a miraculous solution?
Crimes Committed by Horizon Group
Cyber Crime, Impersonation, Perjury, and Fraud
We recently found out through the Google Transparency Report that a negative review of Horizon Group had been removed from the Google Search Index or tried to be removed after a fake DMCA notice was sent to Google.
The following are typical common elements:
- A takedown notice seeking the removal of some online content, usually but not always a DMCA notice, is sent to either that content’s host or to a search engine such as Google.
- The content in question that the notice seeks to have taken down or de-listed is the original version of the material.
- The online content that the notice claims is the original is actually the copy, and of course, was placed online after the original material.
- Sometimes the copier goes as far as creating a fictitious website to host their copy, one that looks like a newspaper or magazine, or other online publication. But of course, the domain of such a site will have a dubious provenance.
- Needless to say, the sender of the takedown notice in question doesn’t have the copyright in the material at issue or any rights to it at all. The sender’s actual motivations vary but may include both financial gain and censorship.
Lumen did some pilot research and wrote about this a few years ago, and we’re now looking into it again, in the hopes of both learning more about the phenomenon generally, and developing some ways in which to better recognize this type of notice earlier on, possibly even somewhat automatically, and without a lot of labor-intensive detective work on when domains were registered, when pages were created, and so on.
Exposing Horizon Group and fake DMCAs
Businesses use multiple approaches to remove unwanted material from review sites, as well as Google’s search results. Thanks to protections put in place to allow for freedom of speech in the United States, there are very few ways to go about this in a legal manner. Businesses can’t get rid of negative reviews or search results that link to them without a valid claim of defamation, copyright infringement, or some other clear breach of the law.
Faced with these limitations, some companies like Horizon Group have gone to extreme lengths to fraudulently claim copyright ownership over a negative review in the hopes of taking it down.
Articles featuring the criminal activities of powerful individuals have been targeted by fake DMCA notices in an effort to cover up their illicit actions. These people, which include US, Russian and Khazakstani politicians as well as members from elite circles including the mafia and those with massive financial power, are all connected – and alleged corruption ranging from child abuse to sexual harassment is exposed when exploring evidence found at these URLs. It appears there’s a disturbing level of influence being exerted here that needs further investigation before justice can be served.
Potential Consequences for Horizon Group
How serious are impersonation and perjury
Under Florida Statute 831.01, the crime of Forgery is committed when a person falsifies, alters, counterfeits, or forges a document that carries “legal efficacy” with the intent to injure or defraud another person or entity.
Forging a document is considered a white-collar crime. It involves altering, changing, or modifying a document for the purpose of deceiving another person. It can also involve the passing along of copies of documents that are known to be false. In many states, including Florida, falsifying a document is a crime punishable as a felony.
Additionally, under Florida law, “fraud on the court” is where “a party has sentiently set in motion some unconscionable scheme calculated to interfere with the judicial system’s ability impartially to adjudicate a matter by improperly influencing the trier of fact or unfairly hampering the presentation of the opposing party’s claim or defense.” Cox v. Burke, 706 So. 2d 43, 46 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998) (quoting Aoude v. Mobil Oil Corp., 892 F.2d 1115, 1118 (1st Cir. 1989)).
The crime of Forgery is a Third Degree Felony in Florida and is punishable by up to five (5) years in prison, five (5) years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.
– Reputation Management, or Internet Conspiracy
– Fraudsters are abusing Google with fake copyright complaints, and it’s getting worse
– Exposed documents reveal how the powerful clean up their digital past using a reputation laundering firm
– Over thirty thousand DMCA notices reveal an organized attempt to abuse copyright law
– Companies Use Fake Websites and Backdated Articles to Censor Google�s Search Results
– Bad Reviews: How Companies Are Using Fake Websites to Censor Content
– How Companies Abuse the DMCA to Silence Negative Criticism
What happens now?
Someone needs to be held responsible
Horizon Group and other business executives are renowned for their dedicated investment in reputation management – but it can be an ego-shattering experience to encounter a negative review or public statement that cannot be remedied. Despite ‘power’ and financial clout, these moments of vulnerability demonstrate just how human they truly are.
Gripeo.com will in our own capacity, do all we can to hold someone responsible for this incident. Here is what are we preparing for –
- Inform Google that fraud has been committed against them by Horizon Group.
- Share our findings and evidence with journalists, media houses, and other bloggers.
- Informing Lumen Database.
- Filing counter notice on behalf of the victims of this scam.
- Informing Google Support to retract their decision on removing the original URL on Google Search.
- Ensuring that the critical articles and reviews get more exposure and awareness.
- Seeking legal counsel if we decide to pursue a lawsuit against Horizon Group.
- Expand our investigation and identify similar fake DMCAs based on common factors.
Since Horizon Group made such efforts to hide something online, it seems fit to ensure that this article, as well as other critical information on Horizon Group, including but not limited to user contributions, remains a permanent record online for anyone who is interested in Horizon Group.
A case perfect for the Streisand effect…
All communications are confidential and protected by our WhistleBlower Policy.
Our Verdict on Horizon Group
Horizon Group Rating and Review
Based on the available online data, including but not limited to the alleged criminal actions of Horizon Group, here is our estimated rating of Horizon Group: Our users can contribute their own assessments of Horizon Group below.
Horizon Group seems to be involved in the alleged fraud, forgery, and impersonation. The fake DMCAs raise questions over Horizon Group’s ethics, intelligence, judgment, or lack thereof.
- Allegedly committed perjury
- Allegedly assisted Fraud
- Has something to hide