Monday, February 4, 2013

Predators Watch Scam: Be Informed



So after some research I have come to a few conclusions about the PredatorsWatch.com scam that I found out about recently. First off, never believe what you hear on the internet; secondly, know the laws or do some research on them; thirdly, don’t fucking panic.



PredatorsWatch.com is a website that allows people to post information about potential sexual predators for absolutely no charge. The only way to get information off the site is to pay them $99.95, regardless of whether or not the accusations made against you on the site are false or not.



I was trying to figure out ways to get this site off the net and see if we could put an end to this little organization once and for all. The thing that really upset me about it is the fact that they use a name like Predators Watch, which implies that they are some type of advocacy group that legitimately wants to make the community a safer place. When in realty they’re just out to get money from you and mine your data.



I looked through some websites about the scam and I found some people that actually paid the $99.95 to have their name removed.



I also found a lot of irate people like myself who wanted the site to be taken down, and even tried to supply names of the owners of the websites.



But upon closer examination I’ve found that the names they give can in no way really be connected with the website.



Which brings me to number 1: Never believe what you see on the internet.



When doing a WHOIS lookup on PredatorsWatch.com I found that the site is hosted by eNom LLC, a domain name service provider. When looking up contact info for the owner on the WHOIS search I found the following:

Registrant Contact:
   PRQ Inet KB
   Gottfrid Swartholm ()
   
   Fax: 
   Box 1206
   Stockholm,  114 79
   SE
 
Administrative Contact:
   PRQ Inet KB
   Gottfrid Swartholm (registry@prq.se)
   +46.737721056
   Fax: 
   Box 1206
   Stockholm,  114 79
   SE
 
Technical Contact:
   PRQ Inet KB
   Gottfrid Swartholm (registry@prq.se)
   +46.737721056
   Fax: 
   Box 1206
   Stockholm,  114 79
   SE

PRQ is an internet service provider that is co-owned by Per Gottfrid Svartholm Warg (Gottfrid Swartholm). He is also the co-owner of such BitTorrent projects like ThePirateBay.org.



Now what’s interesting is that some people on anti-scam sites are claiming that this is the man you need to speak to about the website in question, but that isn’t exactly correct. PRQ doesn’t just provide internet service or website hosting service. They also provide what is called ‘domain privacy’.



‘Domain privacy’ is a service that anyone can pay for. Essentially what you do is pay somebody else to acquire your domain name under their name, keeping you out of the picture entirely. You still operate the website and have administration powers, but as far as anyone knows you’re not the actual owner.



Now, the only reason we know that the people who run PredatorsWatch.com are from America is because for one, the actual service provider is eNom LLC, which is based in Washington State. For two, they are citing a US Federal Law, the Communications Decency Act, and using it their advantage. But what we don’t know is who they really are.



Some internet users and victims of the scam have implicated a man in Florida named Michael King, who operates a website called WikiWarnings.com. It’s the same type of premise, except is doesn’t deal with sexual predators. It is a site where you can accuse someone of being a fraud (usually a business owner of some kind) by posting a profile about them for free. Michael King’s site is kind enough to make sure that your name pops up on major search engines for everyone to find.



In order to have your name taken off this man’s website you have to show him proof that the claims are false, and he will only accept court or police documentation. Once he receives it he apparently examines it and then lets you know whether or not your information can be taken off of his website. If he approves, you must pay a fee of $599.99, which according to his website “…is to pay our developers to remove the listing report from social networks and search engines such as Bing.com, Google.com, etc…”



I did another WHOIS search on WikiWarnings.com and found that the domain was registered at GoDaddy.com and that the contact information is that of a company called “Domains by Proxy”, which is company that provides domain privacy and is owned by GoDaddy.com founder, Bob Parsons.



I found even more people on these anti-scam sites which claimed that Michael King owned other sites like Warning-Notice.com. A WHOIS search of that site also brought up GoDaddy.com as the domain provider and Domains by Proxy as the contact information.



But other than this there is no proof that Michael King is the owner of PredatorsWatch.com. There isn’t even proof that he is the owner of Warning-Notice.



There are certain privacy issues here which people can use to their advantage and it’s perfectly legal. There are free speech issues at hand here as well which we must recognize.



Which brings me to number 2: Know the laws, or do some research on them.



I learned a lot today about internet privacy laws and domain name providers. I learned that I can look up a web page and get some clues as to who they might be. I read TOS agreements from other web based service providers, looked up the laws that they were citing and came to my own conclusions.  



I took a dive head first into the world of internet scams and I saw how easy it really is and how much money there is to make for people who do this. They’re devious mother fuckers who don’t give a damn about your reputation, but they don’t have the balls to let anyone know who they really are. Totally illegitimate!



But even though we know it’s a scam now, even though we are smart enough to look into things and figure out what’s really going on, there are some people who are willing to pay the money to have their name taken off the sites. Some out of fear, others out of pure determination to keep their reputations intact, and with good cause too!



Which brings me to number 3: Don’t fucking panic.



These assholes have been at it for a really long time, and nothing is going to stop them. The only thing that can happen in the case of PredatorsWatch.com specifically is that enough pressure will come down upon eNom LLC and they will close the site down. But before that happens, you’ll just have to live with the fact that some shady data miners got a hold of your name and picture and labeled you a predator.



I think the best thing we can do right now to bring this one site down is to complain to eNom LLC, your attorney general, and consumer based advocacy groups to shut the site down. But just remember that within a few days there will be another site just like it, using the same tactics as before.



People, you need to stay informed about this stuff and be extra careful. Spread the word about scams like this and be active about it. And remember, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Craig’s List!”



If you have been taken advantage by a scam like this then here are some people that you can contact:






SOURCES:

























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