Mike Dillard Exposed Exposed?
January 4, 2013 12:40 AM   Subscribe

Mike Dillard Exposed Exposed? - I'm not quite sure where to file this, but I discovered this after clicking a random google ad. It appears that this man has literally filled the entire internet with fake exposé websites, videos, you name it. Try going as far into the search results as you can stand - my question is simply, how? (and also, why?)
posted by Astragalus to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So ... what? The guy has some sort of MLM thing going on, and he's created a bunch of fake consumer websites that respond to keyword searches like "scam" and "exposed" and in fact promote him and vouch for him?

The why is pretty obvious -- this serves the same purpose as a plant in a sales seminar or the shill in a street con game: to create an apparent peer viewpoint that the mark will latch onto. Con games are essentially playing on the greed of their victims, and the saying "You can't con an honest man" has some truth to it. So someone who is to the point of googling his name and those keywords is already to some extent thinking about buying in. This just gives them the confidence (origin of the word "con") to proceed into the abyss.

Or did you have another question?
posted by dhartung at 12:47 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's a form of PR. By creating or fostering the "scam" sites he is inviting interest in his business from people who want to investigate what the hullaballoo is all about. If you google him or his business you don't get the "scam exposed" sites first. You get this chap's plausible website explaining his rags to riches story and how he can do it for you. Similarly, if you google his business the first links are positive.

He is using clever SEO and reverse psychology to generate business using the old "buy my expensive package to find out how you can make your millions" business model. I have no idea if he is a scam merchant or not although it strikes me personally as incredibly sketchy.

I would also add that this AskMe is part of the problem - i.e. by linking to sites about him we are, in effect, part of his SEO plan. Which arguably makes this a bad question for AskMe.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:10 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Self-posting all these sites and videos by the sales group and its affiliates can also serve to bury genuine complaints and negative press (such as this CFTC release that mentions that The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is charging Michael Dillard and Elevation Group with registration violations) in a pile of results that are actually promotional.

This technique would not encourage me to trust a person or business. I imagine doing a search on a medical doctor I'm considering consulting, and finding an avalanche of results for "Doctor Somedoc – Malpractice" and then reading "Doctor Somedoc has never been successfully sued for malpractice; make an appointment today!"
posted by taz at 2:31 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, what Taz said. To tag on, the thing that would MOST convince me to run from that doc would be the existence of a website with the domain thisdocsucks.com that only has laudatory information about this doctor. "We started this website to slam this doctor, but now we're singin' his/her praises!" To address the question of HOW, well, domains are cheap and simple bloggy websites can be slapped up in hours.

"Why?" is self-explanatory - the guy was seeing pages of stuff about himself when he googled his name (probably with or without "exposed" or "fraud" in the search string, although Google does something interesting for you here - it helpfully suggests "Is Mike Dillard a scammer" when you start typing in "Is Mike Dillard..."

(as an aside, I feel sorry for any hypothetical Mike Dillard, average honest ordinary local business people who might be out there...)

I once did a search involving a more or less legit, yet somewhat controversial company. I was amazed (and a little appalled) at how thoroughly their minions apparently monitor Google results and jump in on any bulletin board, blog post, etc. It made it hard to find a conversation that had been able to take root thoroughly examining "the other side," as it were. So while it's not intellectually surprising that an organization would do such a thing, this example is one of the more thorough gaslighting jobs I've personally ever seen, although I know they're more common than you or I might suspect. All this effort tells me two things - this man's organization has tremendous resources to maintain all this mess, and he's got a tremendous reputation problem.

If I were seriously considering investing or whatever with this guy and uncovered all this, or if I otherwise really HAD to prove where all this mess is coming from, I'd start doing WHOIS searches on the main websites. I'd expect to find the same or similar info on all of them if they're a little lazy, or private registrations on all of them if they're not. Another red flag is the consistency of the syntax (not very good) across all these sites. The last time I looked really hard at a twisty maze of sites, all alike, like this, I eventually found places where the exact same language (or very similar) was used.

Another helpful thing is to make use of the "long tail" results and dig straight down to page 10 or 15 of the Google results. He's put so much crap out there that you STILL find the phony results (they stand out a mile when you start looking at them), but you eventually start finding news that seems legit (unless Mike Dillard is really a good guy and his enemies are doing the gaslighting, using a clever reverse psychology scheme :-) ), ex:


Lastly, you know this guy is just focusing on certain common key words and that he hasn't really figured out a way to hypnotize Google, right? If you search on some less common key words, you get a normal array of results you'd expect about a guy who's having a lot of legal troubles.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:27 AM on January 4, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks guys - I guess I mostly wanted someone to see it too to prove that I'm not going insane :) I have seen this type of thing before, but never so thorough. I actually clicked to page 49 or something looking for one piece of non-bullshit information, a site I'd heard of, etc. but when I found nothing I actually literally got scared. Why doesn't google jump on this? If it's so easy to completely hijack their search like that... well, I guess I'll just have to look more closely at who I buy my v1a6R4 from...
posted by Astragalus at 5:18 PM on January 4, 2013

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