Conman.com | Cover Story | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
We need your help.

Newspapers and media companies nationwide are closing or suffering mass layoffs since the coronavirus impacted all of us starting in March. City Weekly's entire existence is directly tied to people getting together in groups--in clubs, restaurants, and at concerts and events--which are the industries most affected by new coronavirus regulations.

Our industry is not healthy. Yet, City Weekly has continued publishing thanks to the generosity of readers like you. Utah needs independent journalism more than ever, and we're asking for your continued support of our editorial voice. We are fighting for you and all the people and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation on PressBackers.com, which directs you to our Galena Fund 501(c)(3) non-profit, a resource dedicated to help fund local journalism. It is never too late. It is never too little. Thank you. DONATE

News » Cover Story

Conman.com

If cybersquatter Robert Paisola is the future of the Internet, then we’re all in big trouble.

by

6 comments

Page 3 of 4

ATTACK OF THE SPIDERS
Among Paisola-related sites listed on Google are several dedicated to attacking his character and claims. One is by a feisty, 78-year-old debt-collection critic, Oklahoma-based Billie Bauer, who recently took to calling Paisola “the thief in chief.” But of all Paisola’s critics, Brewington, who’s on a self-appointed crusade to drag him into the light, is by far the most ardent in his pursuit. Not that Paisola takes such attacks lightly.

One of the stories Paisola claims to have done through CNNlegal.com is his expose of Brewington for “[defaming] my family.” Paisola claimed to have forced Brewington to remove negative Websites he put up about him.

Brewington said it was the other way around. He’s been investigating Paisola from his home base of Phoenix for almost a year. Last November, Brewington said, Paisola put up a blog on his own site claiming the PI was a cyberterrorist under U.S. Secret Service investigation. Paisola also published Brewington’s home address.

A Phoenix journalist told Brewington about a onetime spammer-turned-Internet-vigilante called William Stanley. Based in Austria, Stanley runs a site that promises to combat defamation on the Web. For fees ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 or more per month, Stanley’s company uses optimization search engines to force down negative material to the second or third page of Google. Most searchers only encounter their clients’ sanctioned copy.

Stanley told Brewington he could persuade Paisola to remove the blog in half an hour. “While we were on the phone, he sent [computer] spiders into Paisola’s Website,” Brewington said. “He extracted addresses in there and sent to 400 e-mail contacts an e-mail discussing the fact [Paisola] was a convicted child-porn [possessor].”

Paisola tried to negotiate with Brewington. “He was on my phone eight times that day. Finally I picked up. ‘Take it down or get crushed,’ I told him.” The blog came down.

Along with his letter to the Utah AG, Brewington included a package of Western Capital Website material and two recent lawsuits for cybersquatting filed against Paisola. He claimed Paisola was “a danger to the worldwide community.”

Brewington makes no bones about his mission to expose Paisola. “Paisola’s a predator,” he said. For Brewington, it’s his duty to protect the weak. “I hate bullies,” he said.

Even though Brewington severely doubted Paisola’s abilities as an investigator, that doesn’t reduce the threat Paisola poses on the Internet, he said.

“Isn’t he committing murder as well, [by] assassinating a business, a character?” he said.

DIGITAL DRIVE-BYS
One business reputation Paisola’s attacked is that of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based mortgage lender, William Spain, who owns a company called Provident Partners.

“[Paisola’s second] ex-wife worked for us,” Spain said. “We terminated her for not doing her job. As soon as we did, he started hassling us.”

Paisola said he became involved with Spain because “a close friend”—his ex-wife’s current partner, another onetime Spain employee—was owed $2,000. Spain denied this.

The “hassling” took the form of a Website entitled “Provident Partners—the facts.” (Paisola put up a similar site promising the “facts” about Salt Lake City Weekly in late April and also bought the domain names SLWeekly.net, SLWeekly.org and SLWeekly.info. At press time, these domains redirected browsers to City Weekly 's official site, SLWeekly.com, but were still under Paisola's control.)

“He’s trying to be a disturbance in the business,” Spain said. “He intimidates, interferes in daily business practices, prints all kinds of things that are not true.”

All Paisola could come up with on his Website regarding Spain’s alleged wrongdoings was to catch Spain lying about having legal representation. Spain said he’d become so exasperated by the constant harassment, he’d told Paisola to speak to a lawyer whom a Provident employee had recommended, without actually having hired him.

Finally, Spain decided the best remedy was to simply ignore Paisola. Any client inquiring about the Website was issued a statement, Spain said, that it was from a “disgruntled ex-employee’s boyfriend, a felon, not a nice guy.”

Spain employs 45 people. But Paisola’s ambitions are not limited to needling small businesses. A lawsuit filed against Paisola in Utah by American Express spin-off Ameriprise Financial for alleged cyberpiracy and another by Illinois-based small business consultant International Profits Associations [IPA], claiming Paisola made “extortionist demands for ‘hush money’” provide ample evidence of his willingness to take on sizeable corporate opponents.

Paisola agreed: “I have no problem taking on some of the biggest corporations in the world,”

Ameriprise, in a September 2006 complaint filed in U.S. district court of Utah, alleged Paisola had registered AmeripriseUniversity.com, which he’d linked to an Ameriprise-owned Webpage. He then tried to sell Ameriprise the domain name for “at least $3,000.” When Ameriprise counsel asked Paisola why the company should purchase the infringing domain name, he said, according to court documents, “that he is ‘narcissistic,’ and is only concerned that ‘the check clears.’”

In January 2007, Ameriprise obtained a default judgment against Paisola in U.S. District Court for $10,000, plus attorneys’ fees of $17,000. Asked for comment, all Paisola would say is “bring it on.”

IPA’s management, through a spokesman, said they enjoy “an amicable relationship with Robert Paisola.” This seems odd, given the torture he put the company through, including, according to court documents, “a campaign of false, misleading and defamatory Internet postings … and not-so-veiled threats against IPA’s officers and employees.” Paisola’s alleged demands for payment started at $56,000 but wound up at $10 million and climbing.

“Whereas Paisola recently conducted himself with a feigned appearance of legitimate, business-like professionalism,” IPA’s counsel wrote in court filings, “within the past week, his behavior has become irrational, profane and bizarre in his own ranting Website posts …”

IPA and Paisola came to an agreement that involved the issuing of a permanent injunction prohibiting him from “posting, publishing or disseminating any information, statements, recordings or images … purporting to be, either expressly or implicitly, about IPA.” He also had to transfer ownership of any and all domain names related to IPA, including IpaOpinion.com and IpaRipoff.com