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Forging Court Orders Is No Way to Delist Bad Reviews

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

When CEOs decide to skirt the law via photoshop, it can often be spectacular and spectacularly backfire.

One example of this is courtesy of the CEO of Natural Sapphire Company, who forged court orders to force Google to remove malicious websites posting false and misleading reviews about the company from their search results. And though three lefts may make a right, two wrongs certainly do not. In this case, the CEO just learned that he will have nine months behind bars to think about that (and probably his flagrantly irresponsible use of email too).

The Scheme

Michael Arnstein, the CEO, at first tried to do things the right way. He hired lawyers and shelled out quite a bit of money in order to get a court order to delist several websites that were posting these misleading and false reviews.

Unfortunately, after the initial success, new sites just kept popping up. So rather than re-wage the same legal battle, he just took the court order he won that directed Google to delist certain links, and photoshopped it to swap out one set of links for the newest ones, and sent that to Google. He was under the firm belief that Google doesn't actually verify the delisting court orders they receive, and would just comply. He was very wrong.

The Emails

In a few emails, Arnstein was allegedly bragging about his scheme. In one, he specifically explained that "if he could do it all over again" he would basically carryout the scheme he described above. In another email, he took it further and specifically admitted to using the court order he received in one case to fraudulently induce Google to delist his attackers. Notably, in that second email, he explains that he regrets spending any money on lawyers when he could've just photoshopped a court order instead.

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