A BRITISH expat has been left in limbo after a notorious website failed to remove slanderous, incorrect claims about him.
David Rowe had never heard of the Ripoff Report until 2012, when the American site published an anonymous post accusing him of everything from fraud and theft to drug use and sex with prostitutes.
After attempting to take legal action, property expert Rowe discovered what countless others have found: removing posts from the website is very expensive and often impossible.
In fact, Rowe, from Bristol, was told to pay €1,820 just to have his complaint considered.
“It’s complete and utter lunacy,” says Rowe, 47, who has lived in Spain for 17 years.
“All of us should have the right to arbitration.
“But they make you pay so much money directly to the site that smeared your reputation.”
Rowe claims the post was most likely put up by alleged Costa del Sol conman Philip Cottrell after Rowe and some of his clients sued Cottrell for fraud.
The victims claim that Cottrell poses as a property, fine art, wine and car dealer, dupes people into handing over their money and then pockets the cash himself without delivering on his promise.
Rowe claims that Cottrell has scammed him and others out of ‘millions of euros’.
But his investigation and attempt to prosecute him has so far failed and, worse, led to the counterattack on Ripoff Report.
Rowe told the Olive Press he has now spent the past three years desperately trying to remove the comments but is now at the end of his tether.
He suspects that legal companies that solicited him by email to help him remove the post are linked to the website.
The Olive Press has discovered that at least 30 companies pay around €2,000 to ‘redact’ posts, money which is then shared with the website’s owner, millionaire Ed Magedson.
The website, which incredibly is protected by privacy laws in the USA, is run by the reclusive ‘consumer advocate’ from an unknown hideout in Arizona.
Convinced that his life is at risk, his ‘high-security’ home is said to be surrounded by cameras and high fences and he rarely goes out.
“I am not surprised, he must be in a lot of danger,” said Rowe. “People mention they have seen my name on the site which is embarrassing and completely untrue.
“The problem is that the Ripoff Report ranks high on Google there is little you can do.
“I really hope you can help.”
THE Olive Press found itself in a similar predicament last year, when the Ripoff Report published defamatory claims against the newspaper, its editor Jon Clarke and several of its reporters.
It followed a hard-hitting investigation into a three times convicted fraudster Nigel Goldman, who fled the Costa del Sol owing millions to a string of new victims.
Goldman, who changed his name by deed poll to Howard del Monte, awaits trial in Marbella and meanwhile continues to defraud people from his tiny rented home in Berkshire.
Incredibly he was able to post a string of libellous and entirely unfounded posts about the Olive Press on Ripoff Report.
But when we appealed to the website to remove the slanderous content, we were told that we would have to pay thousands of euros for arbitration.
So we, like Rowe, were forced to publish a series of rebuttals as an appendix to the original posts.
Almost immediately after posting their rebuttals, we – like Rowe – were contacted by suspect legal companies offering their services in minimizing damage from the Ripoff Report posts.