Elixir Interactive CEO Online Reputation Management Case Study
Recently a defamation campaign was launched on most of the top ranking online reputation management companies, including Elixir Interactive, involving the posting of numerous false complaints on multiple review and complaint sites. This spawned many articles and blog posts sharing information about the attacks. CEO Fionn Downhill decided to take a proactive approach and published a post that detailed the attack on her company, Elixir Interactive. As the story spread across the web, Downhill became the subject of an even more aggressive attack on her personal reputation.
As it is common for CEOs to fall victim to internet slander, Elixir Interactive has created a case study on reputation management based on the experiences of their CEO. The attack on Fionn Downhill was extreme, but there are still many steps detailed in this case study that you can take if your company’s CEO falls victim to an online smear campaign.
About Fionn Downhill
Fionn Downhill is President and CEO of Elixir Interactive. Fionn is also a professional speaker on the subject of online reputation management and search engine optimization.
Fionn Downhill was the victim of a calculated online smear campaign that crossed the line into various illegal activities including fraud.
On May 28, 2010 an individual or company impersonating Fionn Downhill set up a BlogSpot webpage promoting a non-existent product. The page included a copyrighted image of Fionn Downhill stolen from the Elixir Interactive website.
The product, which was called “Interactive SEO Money,” also had a false PayPal account set up under the Elixir Interactive business name.
The creator of the page even went as far as to contact the Shoemoney blog posing as Fionn Downhill requesting information on advertisig the product. This did not make any sense until we relaized that the intent was to make somebody at Shoemoney take notice of this garbage and blog about it. This would have given the detractor a nice boost in their attempts to spread the word. The IP used is clearly visibile below.
Next, blog posts appeared on multiple sites claiming that the writers were victims of the product. All of these posts had inconsistent descriptions of the fake product. Soem described it as a PDF with SEO information, some described it as malware code which would cripple your system. These false reports linked to the press releases that were created warning about the “Interactive SEO Money” scam and mentioning Fionn Downhill’s name.
When checked, the phone numbers and email address used to file the press releases did not exist. Whoever was behind this smear campaign didn’t even bother to set up throw way email account.
The attacker also directed link spam to the false reports and filed fake complaints on review and complaint sites. Using the same stolen copyrighted image from the Elixir Interactive website of Fionn Downhill, the attacker created a RipOffReport claiming that they where scammed by the product.
The first step Elixir Interactive CEO Fionn Downhill took was to publish the story of the fraudulent activity on her blog. Because someone was illegally impersonating her, Downhill also immediately filed a report with the FBI. The case is still ongoing as the attackers used false names and contact information. She also attempted to contact PayPal, however none of the representatives seemed to be able to help.
Ms. Downhill also filed a DMCA report with Google regarding the content that used the copyrighted images. She also filed a an abuse report with blogger. This is simple to do you simply click on the ‘report abuse’ button on the blog itself and follow the onscreen instructions. You will need to attach a PDF with a legal and valid photo id to prove you are the real person being impersonated. The BlogSpot was quickly removed and the RipOffReport has since disappeared from the rankings. She then contacted the press release sites and provided proof that the releases were fraudulent and set up with the intent of damaging her reputation. These press releases where also taken down promptly. As a side note, the attacker republished one of the press releases but this was also taken down immediately.
With nothing left but false blog posts and complaints pointing to web pages and press releases that no longer existed, the attacker then commented and linked to their own original blog complaints complaints in an attempt to rank those instead for Ms Downhill’s name.
Elixir Interactive then began to release information about upcoming speaking engagements and conference events featuring Fionn Downhill who also promoted this information on her events blog. With all the digital assets that were created and news of her upcoming speaking event being picked up across the web, all the attacker’s attempts disappeared from the rankings. Ms Downhill is a prominent speaker and thought leader in the SEO industry and she already had a strong online postive reputation.
The results have completely cleared up for Fionn Downhill search results and positive publicity from the speaking engagements continue to be syndicated, creating new, valuable assets that aid in keeping the false reports out of the results.