Friday, February 15, 2008

A Victory Over Pretexting: One Down, One to Go


Hewlett Packard has paid a hefty but undisclosed sum to reporters for Business Week and the New York Times, to settle the widely publicized pretexting scandal. Gumshoes for the company had lied to get phone records and other personal information from reporters.

Hewlett Packard had the decency, belated as it was, to admit fault and act to set things straight. Contrast this with Overstock.com, which openly engages in pretexting via its nauseating in-house stalker, Judd Bagley.

Bagley freely admits to lying about his identity and planting spyware in emails, with the goal of intimidating critics and suppressing criticism of the company.

Overstock is under SEC investigation, but it is time for a criminal investigation of Overstock's and Bagley's conduct.



The telegenic lifelong bachelor has boasted on his blog about having "8,000" emails demonstrating his various conspiracy theories -- including "1,841" from me that, as he describes them, would be forged if they are not figments of Byrne's lurid imagination. The SEC needs to subpoena those "emails" in its ongoing probe, and include this sordid company's pretexting and smear campaign in whatever action it eventually takes.

At least one forged email was offered up to a reporter for The Register, an Internet tabloid, who was researching a hatchet job on Wikipedia. The SEC needs to find out who forged those emails (as if we didn't know) and make an appropriate criminal referral.

UPDATE: There's a persistent rumor that Gradient Analytics has filed a countersuit in its long-running legal battle with Overstock. Actually a bit more than a rumor, as the source is the well-informed scambuster, Sam Antar.

Funny that it wasn't disclosed -- even as Overstock belched forth an update on a minor turn of the screw in said litigation. (I would say "SEC take notice," but even the sleepiest SEC investigator would notice this one.) Gee, is it bad when a company discloses only the aspects of ongoing litigation that make it look good?

© 2007 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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