Although this post is a bit of a departure from my usual postings, it is an important one.
Owning a small business and also being a business professional, I want my Google search results to reflect my accomplishments and skills. However, when you google my name or my business name, a disproportionate amount of duplicate and misleading content about a very old small claims court case appears on multiple pages of my search results. I tried to remove it; I tried to ignore it; now I think its time to reveal it with an explanation.
Many years ago, (back in 2005), I sought help for my husband because he was involved in a few groups, sometimes referred to as LGAT’s or Large Group Awareness Training groups. You may remember EST from the 1970’s which would fall into this category. Although the groups seem harmless on the surface, they are associated with thought reform techniques or brainwashing. My goal in seeking help was simply to get someone to talk to my husband to educate him about the groups he was involved in. I approached a counseling group that supposedly helps individuals involved in these groups. The representative for the counseling group happened to be a psychologist, and he insisted that my husband needed an intervention. My husband was not involved in any religious or dangerous groups, and it seemed like heavy-handed advice. However, the psychologist told me he wouldn’t help my husband at all unless he first worked with this individual. I was resistant, but since I was led to believe it was my only option, I proceeded to call the individual he recommended. We met for a brief lunch to discuss the details of what he would do for my husband. It all sounded very vague, but I went ahead with it because there were no other options presented to me. After lunch I gave him a $2500.00 check as a deposit, and he told me he would let me know his plans for working with my husband.
When I returned home, I became concerned about vagueness not only regarding the cost for his services, but also regarding exactly what he would be doing for my husband to help him. Given these concerns combined with his lack of credentials, I decided to cancel a few days later. I didn’t think it would be a problem because I had just given him the check, and he had not communicated to me his plan for moving forward nor had he worked with or even met my husband yet. He told me I would receive my deposit money back within a couple of weeks, but it never arrived.
After multiple phone calls and emails both to the individual that took the check and the counseling group and psychologist that recommended him, I realized I would never get the money back. He was already starting to cloud the facts and insinuate he had actually done something to earn the money. The referring psychologist was very apologetic, assuring me he would never recommend or do business with this individual again (which wasn’t true because he still works with him to this day).
I took the case to small claims court which went well. His attorney offered to mediate and give back half of the money as settlement, but my husband wanted to proceed with the case. I handily won a judgment for the full amount plus expenses and was pleased with the results.
I never thought he would keep appealing, as I assumed it would be too expensive and time consuming, but I soon realized he knew his attorney and was probably getting his services for free. Although I won a second judgment, he continued to either not show up and extend or appeal. The final time he appealed, I had an out of town work meeting to attend and couldn’t make it to court. I decided to let it go and assumed he had learned his lesson. One would think he would have happily moved on–after all, he kept all the money–for doing nothing.
Unfortunately, he used the default judgment he received as a vindication of sorts. He waited an amount of time until the statute of limitations ran out, and then starting posting it online as a sort of “badge of honor”, and (I’m certain) to embarrass us. Over ten years later, he is still spending a great deal of time working on rotating six or seven URLs containing the cut-and-pasted small claims case results in all caps in different areas of my Google search results. He even redated one of the search results with a false date of 9/13 to make it look more recent and relevant (so it would stay at the top), when the case actually occurred eight years earlier! What he is doing is commonly known as spam-dexing, and Google typically doesn’t allow this type of activity, especially when its done with malicious intent—yet he continues to get away with it. In order to achieve the type of results he has been able to achieve within my and my husband’s search results, it takes a long time; a lot of time; and a lot of patience. It amazes me that this individual is supposed to be helping people, yet he spends an inordinate amount of time being malicious and vengeful. I never did anything to deliberately harm him—I just wanted my money back. My husband and I are now separated, and he continues to work on both of our search results.
Apparently, with all the time that has passed, he also attempts to further cloud the facts and make it appear as though he helped one or both of us, when all I did was meet him for a brief lunch, and my husband never even saw or met him until small claims court. In addition, he now has a very polished looking website and process outlined for how he works with clients, which was non-existent when I met him. Recently, he placed an article related to his profession at the top of his blog, which appeared in my search results along with a picture of a book referring to the same topic, although I have nothing to do with any of this material. Its not the first time he tried to associate me with articles on his website that are completely unrelated to me or my husband. I never attended any groups or LGAT’s or participated in anything involving thought reform or anything else he is connected with; I wasn’t seeking help for myself; it was on behalf of my husband; and I have nothing to do with any books, articles, or services referenced by this individual on his website or otherwise; this individual never provided any services to me or my husband, nor did he get to know anything about us except what was discussed in small claims court; yet the way it appears in my search results implies that there might be a connection or that he spent time working with one or both of us. I don’t even know this man and vice-versa, and neither does my husband. He never helped my husband or even exchanged one sentence with him, and, if anything, he continues to harm him (and me) by publishing damaging and misleading information on the internet and in our search results.
His websites often appear in my Google and other search engine results before items that are current, relevant, and specifically related to me such as items related to my business—my Portfolio and my blog. My goal in writing this explanation is to clarify the facts and stop allowing him to mislead people and spam my search results.