I couple of weeks ago I read an e-mail from a guy who had been screwed because he tried to help a couple folks down on their luck. He has a small computer business, and a couple folks who were barely getting by asked if they could take his electronic returns, break them down, and sell them to recyclers. It saved him the trouble and he even gave them a room in his shop to do the work.
Things were going along fine until they did an inventory and found that these guys were stealing from him, so they kicked them out.
In retaliation they started posting really nasty stuff about the business and about him personally (alleging he was a pedophile) on the Web. They were prolific, and it not only damaged his business; it damaged his family and relationships. He tried to get in touch with Google but they didn’t bother to even return his calls.
The guy sent me a note asking for help and I sent back a list of reputation firms that had good reps and asked him to get back to me if he used one with the results. He did; the firm he used cost about one-fourth of the other bid he got, and the end result was the damaging pages went away and he was getting a lot more Web traffic and business.
I shared this on TWiT during a Cranky Geeks reunion and got a ton of folks asking for the name of the firm that did the work. So figured I’d share that and a few other stories here.
Cyber Investigation Services LLC
So the firm he ended up using was Cyber Investigation Services LLC, and the cost wasn’t trivial, but at $2.500 far cheaper than the $10,000 he had been quoted elsewhere and they solved the problem leaving him better off than he was before.
I spent some time talking on the phone with Chris Anderson one of the top executives for the service, and it is an interesting company. A few years back there were a lot of firms that said they could help with “reputation services” and most basically gamed Google so that the bad stuff folks said about you given a very low page rank and shifted well back in any search. However, about two years ago, Google, largely because everyone seemed to be gaming their search algorithm, changed its process making this kind of a solution far less successful, and a large number of the firms failed.
Image via Shutterstock
Cyber Investigation Services started out very differently – more like a traditional private investigation firm and led by an ex-cop. Their focus was to identify the person doing the attack and get them to stop and they aligned themselves with one of the largest legal firms in the U.S. and one that had developed a specialty in reputation protection largely working for celebrities.
They later added Internet expertise and Chris Anderson was the initial lead expert.
The end result is a blended solution where the attacker(s) are identified and legally stopped in their tracks with the potential for cost recovery and penalties.
A Scary Story
Chris walked me through several cases, but the scariest was a case where a couple of Internet Blackmailers got hold of a firm and gave them that offer they couldn’t refuse: either pay them a ton of money or they would destroy the company’s reputation. The firm refused and these thugs, proceeded to launch hundreds of targeted websites, post negative reviews and commentary and within a matter of days the firm’s multi-million dollar business was sucking air. They were literally shut down.
Cyber Investigations got involved, and for an estimated $40K (it was a massive attack) initial fee stopped the attack, returned the firm to profitable business, and engaged the law firm to recover damages. In the process, the Judge on the case was threatened by the defendants and now criminal charges are pending.
You can see short stories of their other successes here. And there is even a free book that gives you an overview of what to do if someone goes after your reputation.
Whether it is you, your kids, your business, your spouse, parents or friends, someone you know is going to get on the wrong side of Google. You can try to get Google’s attention pointlessly like the poor guy I started off this piece with or you can try a reputation firm, there are still several in the market. I’ve found one that is relatively reasonable and works and you’d be advised to keep them in your rolodex.
You see some day someone you know may need a service like this desperately and that someone likely will be you.
Edited by Braden Becker