Proposed Wording of ACCC Findings Against Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as Ripoffreport.com

Public warning about Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as Ripoffreport.com

DATE: XX/XX/XXX

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has issued a Public Warning Notice about the alleged conduct of online review website operating as RipOffReport.com a website based in Arizona USA and administered by Xcentric Ventures, LLC and its founder Ed Magedson. The ACCC has received [quantity] of complaints about RipOffReport.com since ????.

The Australian Consumer Law provides specific protection to Australian consumers. Australian Consumer Law prohibits businesses from using coercion, undue harassment or physical force in connection with the supply of, or payment for goods or services, or the sale or grant of an interest in land.

Harassment means persistent disturbance or torment.

Undue harassment is an escalated form of harassment when the frequency, nature or content of unwelcome approaches is designed to intimidate or demoralise, tire out or exhaust a person. ACCC has determined that this applies to the Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as Ripoffreport.com due to the persistent, 24 hour, 7-day a week nature of the republication of the harassing and defamatory allegations about the victims.

Coercion

Coercion involves actual or threatened force or compulsion that restricts a person’s choice or freedom to act. ACCC has determined Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as Ripoffreport.com is using coercion because its administrators’ stated policy is to continue to cause harm to its victims unless the victims pay substantial up-front sums of money, plus ongoing “maintenance” fees perpetually. The scenario is nothing less than a digital protection racket.

Under Australian law, the offense of extortion or blackmail is committed when one person dishonestly makes a demand on another person for specified property in the possession of or under the control of that person, in this case Ripoffreport.com demands money, and that demand is accompanied by threat or force. In this case, Ripoffreport.com threatens to continue personal harm in the form of malicious defamation, should the victim not pay RipOffReport.com the demanded “shake-down” fee to edit the injurious online content. Ripoff Report describes the so-called benefit of compelling with the coerced payments as follows: “…you’ll turn a negative into a positive and once that’s done, you’ll wish there were more Ripoff Reports on your business!”
REF: http://www.ripoffreport.com/corporate-advocacy-program/what-members-say

Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as RipOffReport.com has been the subject of intense criticism in the United States. The State of Florida Appeals Court found Ripoff Report as follows:

“The business practices of Xcentric [trading as RipOffReport.com] , as presented by the evidence before this Court, are appalling. Xcentric appears to pride itself on having created a forum for defamation. No checks are in place to ensure that only reliable information is publicized. Xcentric retains no general counsel to determine whether its users are availing themselves of its services for the purpose of tortious or illegal conduct. Even when, as here, a user regrets what she has posted and takes every effort to retract it, Xcentric refuses to allow it. Moreover, Xcentric insists in its brief that its policy is never to remove a post. It will not entertain any scenario in which, despite the clear damage that a defamatory or illegal post would continue to cause so long as it remains on the website, Xcentric would remove an offending post. [footnote omitted]”
Giordano vs. Donna L. Romeo, and Xcentric Ventures, LLC
[No. 3D11-707 Lower Tribunal No. 09-68539 Third District Court of Appeal State of Florida, July Term, A.D. 2011]

The ACCC has adopted the above opinion of the State of Florida Appeals Court about Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as RipOffReport.com, and augments this opinion with the charges of undue harassment and coercion.

The ACCC is very concerned that consumers are reporting that, in response to demands from Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as RipOffReport.com, victims of online defamation have paid large sums of money, and are continuing to pay for ongoing protection from injury to their personal or business reputation.

Consumers who have paid for coercive protection “services” to Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as RipOffReport.com are encouraged to dispute these charges through their financial institutions, citing the above references consumer protection laws.

FREE HELP RESOURCES: Australian citizens and organisations can obtain relief from ongoing harm in the form of malicious online defamation or harassment, doi-it-yourself rescources are available by submitting online forms directly to Google, Bing and Yahoo Search Engine administrators. Instructions are available here here:
http://www.defamation911.org/australian-victims/

The Public Warning Notice has been issued because the ACCC has reasonable grounds to suspect that Xcentric Ventures, LLC trading as RipOffReport.com’s conduct may constitute a contravention of the Australian Consumer Law, by asserting a right to payment through Undue Harassment and Coercion.


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