Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What a Coinkydink! Overstock.com Buys Naming Rights Near Courthouse


How to get from the Overstock courthouse to the Overstock stadium

My favorite corporate crime petri dish, Overstock.com, is currently fighting a savage legal battle with seven California district attorneys over one of its favorite causes: its God-given right to rip off customers.

So it was fascinating to learn that Overstock had decided to spend $7 million to splatter its name over a stadium in..... guess where? Salt Lake City, where it is located, and where most such naming takes place? (You know, community goodwill and the like.) Or would it be Alameida County, where it is being sued?

You guessed it. What a coinky-dink! Why, they wouldn't be wanting to influence the legal process by throwing their shareholders' scant money around, would they? Of course not, though I have to admit that doing stuff like this is one of the grimiest and oldest ploys in creation.

In the map at the top, the new Overstock stadium is B, and the courthouse where it's fighting for its right to rip off customers is A.

Gee, what's the matter? Whatever happened to pay for play? Aren't politicians or judges for sale in Oakland? Don't DAs take political contributions?

Mark Shurtleff, have you thought of relocating?

© 2011 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Imagining a President Donald Trump

Can a failed casino operator, inherited-wealth landlord, reality TV star and narcissist become president of the United States?

I muse on that in my latest Street column here.

© 2011 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Overstock.com Obstructs California Fraud Probe

Sam Antar has a devastating blog post out today describing how Overstock.com has been dodging efforts by California law enforcement agencies in their civil prosecution of the firm for consumer fraud.

Sam's post caused the shares of the company to dip today, according to StreetInsider, which is the first time I've heard of a blog post affecting the share price of this dog's breakfast of a company. I'm surprised that investors aren't already clued in on this company's skankiness. Where have they been? You'd think that maybe they were reading the Utah newspapers, which only publishes puff pieces about the company.

According to the court filings, Overstock is trying to force the California cops to contact former employees through Overstock. This squalid effort to derail the investigation is described by Overstock as an effort to protect the privacy of former employees, when of course the opposite is the clear intent. Overstock wants to know which of its former employees' is being contacted by California to chat about the company's cheesy pricing practices.

Sam points out the irony of this line of bull.

And speaking of invasions of privacy, I see that CEO Patrick Byrne's hireling Judd Bagley, who heads Byrne's cyberstalking operation and is now back on the Overstock payroll, has formally cashed out of Byrne's Deep Capture blog.

The document can be read in all its glory below.

Bagley Bails Out

What makes this interesting is that really eliminates any distinction between Deep Capture and Overstock. Bagley is still posting on the blog and still serves as the blog's formal agent for service of process, so all this demonstrates is that Deep Capture is an arm of the SEC-investigated retailer.

So when Bagley wrote the other day to compare a rape victim in Libya to his much-criticized boss, he was acting in the scope of his employment at Overstock. I wonder what kind of Nescafe they're serving in Salt Lake City nowadays?

UPDATE: Responding to a routine phone call from a Bloomberg reporter, the besieged CEO Patrick Byrne went ballistic on his corporate blog. This California investigation seems to be a sensitive issue. I wonder what he has to be afraid of?

It's too bad the California DAs aren't for sale, like a certain Utah attorney general who will go nameless. Those unpurchased public officials sure are a pain in the neck.

© 2011 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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