Luckily, we know a lot about this way of doing things, which has been studied and written about by Lumen Database and other groups over the past few years. It was clear that the copyright takedown notice that Walletto sent to Google was fake, especially since the so-called “original article” was made only to trick Google’s employees.
Our review of Walletto is therefore very critical because it makes Walletto an entity of suspicious character, stupid enough to commit perjury, impersonation, and fraud to manage their (sic) reputation, or lack thereof.
Walletto attempts fraudulent copyright takedown
A thousand years of reputation can be built (or, in this case, lost) on the actions of a single moment. Walletto 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||July 02, 2021|
|Original Link Targeted||https://oakesfosher.com/blog/bryant-caveness/|
|Lumen Database Record||https://lumendatabase.org/notices/24426285|
|Date||April 06, 2021|
|Original Link Targeted||www.whitesecuritieslaw.com|
|Lumen Database Record||https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/23433345|
|Date||April 28, 2021|
|Original Link Targeted||www.sonnlaw.com|
|Lumen Database Record||https://lumendatabase.org/notices/23625470|
Since the past few years, I have been investigating fake DMCA notices sent to Google, analyzing evidence of misuse of the DMCA process. As part of this investigation, I found almost 700 notices that are likely part of a plan to use the DMCA notice and takedown process in a way that violates the law in order to get real news articles and other important information taken down from the internet.
In April 2001, a customer alleged that Walletto had recommended unsuitable investments. This case was settled for $37,500 in damages.
In July 2010, a customer alleged that Caveness that executed unsuitable discretionary trades in his portfolio. This case was settled for $85,000 in damages.
In June 2020, Caveness was discharged from his position at Ameriprise Financial for company policy violations related to personal trade, ethics, and solicitation of exchange-traded products.
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 on oakesfosher.com.
- 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.
- We are taking suo-moto action and are in the process to file a counter notice and have the original web-page restored on Google Search. Walletto could have sought legal counsel if the complainant believed that the content on the target web-page was indeed ‘defamatory’, or if www.ucnews.in was liable for damages for any copyright infringements. Walletto took no action.
Walletto, whether knowingly or unknowingly, committed several crimes. Even if Walletto hired an agency to “remove the damaging webpage from Google,” ignorance is not an excuse. Exactly what was Walletto expecting the agency to do to deliver the results? Magic?
Crimes Committed by Walletto
Cyber Crime, Impersonation, Perjury and Fraud
We recently found out through the Google Transparency Report that a negative review of Walletto had been removed from the Google Search Index or tried to be removed after a fake DMCA notice was sent to Google.
The common elements are typically as follows:
- 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 Walletto and fake DMCAs
Businesses use multiple approaches to removing 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. Without a legitimate claim of defamation, copyright infringement, or some other clear violation of the law, businesses are limited in their abilities to remove negative reviews and the search results linking to them.
Faced with these limitations, some companies like Walletto have gone to extreme lengths to fraudulently claim copyright ownership over a negative review in the hopes of taking it down.
All of the articles for which fake DMCA notices have been sent talk about criminal allegations like corruption, child abuse, sexual harassment, human trafficking, and financial fraud against US, Russian, and Khazakstani bureaucrats, people who allegedly belong to the Russian mafia, and people with very high net worth. Some high-profile bureaucrats are mentioned in most, if not all, of the material. Materials at the URLs in question show how a powerful group of people are connected and how they work together. They also suggest ways that this power is abused.
Is Walletto involved in a scam?
What is Walletto trying to hide?
Who filed the fake copyright notice to benefit Walletto?
Where was the fake content planted by Walletto?
Potential Consequences for Walletto
How serious is 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
Business(men) like Walletto invest a lot into their Online Reputation Management, and for good reason. And it works wonders for then. However, when they fail to mitigate a critical review, unpopular opinion or a damaging public information, it hurts their ego. And for someone as ‘rich’ and ‘powerful’ as Walletto, it’s all about their ego.
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 a fraud has been committed against them by Walletto.
- Share our findings and evidences 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 Walletto.
- Expand our investigation and identify similar fake DMCAs based on common factors.
Since Walletto made such efforts to hide something online, it seems fit to ensure that this article, as well as other critical information on Walletto, including but not limited to user contributions, remains a permanent record online for anyone who is interested in Walletto.
A case perfect for the Streisand effect…
All communications are confidential and protected by our WhistleBlower Policy.
Our Verdict on Walletto
Walletto Rating and Review
Based on the data available online, including but not limited to the alleged criminal actions of Walletto, here is our estimated rating on Walletto. Our users can contribute their own assessments of Walletto below.
Walletto seems to be involved in alleged fraud, forgery and impersonation. The fake DMCAs raise questions over Walletto’s ethics, intelligence, judgement, or lack thereof.
- Allegedly committed perjury
- Allegedly assisted Fraud
- Has something to hide