Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Sleaze Watch: Omuse Padding Covered Up

Yup, a third blog item in a row on sliminess at They don't call it the "gift that keeps on giving" for nothing.

Remember all those company-written articles planted in "Omuse"-- you know, the make-work project that was created for its house stalker, Judd Bagley? Well, they're gone, folks -- each and every one of them.

Take a look at the list of new Omuse pages today, and compare with the one that I listed on Aug. 29. Forty new articles were listed through the August back then. Today, the number of new articles for that same period has shrunk to seven.

What happened to the other thirty-three? Well, all of them were created by a screen name called "polyhymnia." That accounts for the big gap between the first of the month and the 19th. This person, obviously an Overstock employee, would take material from elsewhere at the website and plunk it down in Omuse.

Pretty good way of fraudulently fleshing out a failing project, wouldn't you say? Unless you get caught, which is what happened.

But don't bother looking at polyhymnia's contributions list to see what was taken out. They've been nuked as well. All the phony Overst0ck-plagiarized articles have vanished without a trace.

If you click on one of the links in the original item, such as this one for a "pearls buying guide" copied from elsewhere on the Overstock site, you come up with zilch. The article has been wiped off the face of the earth.

Well, not entirely. It is there for the pickings for investigators at the SEC, who are probing Overstock and its wack-a-doo CEO, Patrick Byrne. Still, this makes you wonder: why the crude coverup? I have a general idea as to the answer, but I can only say that a "sudden attack of ethics" isn't the reason.

Speaking of ethics, is it bad when the CEO of a company provides a comment letter to the SEC containing a paper from the "Haverford Group" -- without disclosing that he owns the Haverford Group?

UPDATE: The O-Smear blog discusses the latest tidings in Judd Bagley's day job, which is running's corporate smear site. It's interesting to compare the zeal and energy Bagley employs in his day job of stalking Byrne's enemies, versus his half-hearted effort to make his Omuse cover story work.

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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