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Man Sent to Prison Over Yelp-Slamming Business with Reviews

Man Sent to Prison Over Yelp-Slamming Business with Reviews

A man in Texas has really shown up the legion of shitposters online. He’s gone to prison not once, but twice for writing a number of damaging posts online about a financial firm.

In 2016, William Stanley was sentenced to 37 months in prison after he threatened to post negative reviews online about Generational Equity unless the Texas-based financial advisory firm paid him nearly $30,000—extortion, the court found. Less than a month after his release, Stanley launched another smear campaign online against the same firm from his halfway house, according to court documents.

Stanley, who ran a search engine optimization company, was sentenced to 97 months in prison earlier this month for retaliating against Generational Equity within weeks after his release from prison. Investigators reportedly traced a number of negative posts online back to Stanley, which he posted around September 21, 2016, just a little over a month into his stay at the halfway house, where he was living after leaving prison the first time. The posts included a Yelp review that linked to a WordPress blog that included about 67 links smearing Generational Equity. A negative Glassdoor review for Generational Equity by a “former employee” was also posted the same day. According to the indictment, Stanley wrote “false and derogatory comments and reviews online” about Generational Equity.

An excerpt of the Glassdoor review
Screenshot: Complaint

Stanley’s halfway house claimed that it didn’t allow access to the internet at the time the posts were written, which was in the early morning, but investigators found a smartphone on him. “They owe me some money,” Stanley told the Dallas FBI’s chief of security when agents seized his phone, according to the complaint. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

He did, the court found—Stanley violated 18 U.S. Code § 1513, “which criminalizes retaliation against a witness, victim, or informant who provides truthful information to a law enforcement officer about the commission or possible commission of a federal offense,” per the complaint. An attorney for Generational Equity told the FBI that Stanley’s online posts cost the company two sales worth about $75,000 and could potentially cost the firm about $50,000 a day.


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