Scam Sightings (continued)

Part 2: High Grade Near Scam By

Scam Sighting?

A judge in Federal Court is still thinking about this one: Is the website a front for a reputation management scam or a legit consumer advocate business? For consumers, the question is Does PissedConsumer (PC) use Internet technology to manipulate consumers for hidden profitable purposes? Whatever, PC has a sophisticated website that accumulates a lot of consumer data.

Brief: According to a lawsuit brought by Ascentive LLC, a major software developer, Pissed Consumer invites consumers to write complaints about corporations for publication on its website. The complaints are published on the website and accumulated in an archive. At this point PC seems only to be in the consumer advocate business.

Details: The lawsuit claims PC has an undisclosed business. If PC collects enough complaints against a well-known corporation like Ascentive, PC may offer a reputation management service to “repair” the damage the corporate name has suffered from the consumer complaints created. The lawsuit says this is a form of extortion under the RICO Act.*

Gotcha: The charges are summarized by Ascentive’s lawyers in a summary that can be read in 3 minutes:

More details of the legal filing are available in a 30-page document available on the Internet.

I came across PissedConsumer when hunting for material for the Consumer Resources part of my blog. I tested it by writing a complaint regarding an insurance website that wasted my time with a cumbersome online premium payment system. As I wrote it, PC’s site offered auto-advice to sharpen my complaint. Once done, PC offered me an expensive option to upgrade my beef and to build a larger audience. Further research uncovered the Ascentive charges.

In any event, PissedConsumer may qualify for my near scam definition, an operation organized to profit through unseen but technically legal tactics used for hidden and profitable purposes. Stay tuned. This case is worth following.

*RICO is the federal “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”


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