Digital Point Owners Indicted – Out on 100k Bail
UPDATE 8/2/10: Looks like Shawn Hogan has posted a rather lengthy and fun-packed blog-post on digital point about what he says is the real story behind all this. Read Here
Nearly 2 years ago, you may remember an post by Nickycakes detailing the Digital Point cookie stuffing scandal [allegedly] perpetrated by Shawn Hogan, owner of Digital Point forums and his partner. You can view the post here (from Sept 2008). Nickycakes details exactly how they were [allegedly] doing it etc.
Well, fast forward to this year and Shawn Hogan and his buddy Brian Dunning have both been Indicted after a lengthy FBI investigation. They’ve been charged with over 15 counts of wire fraud and criminal forfeiture. They’ve been released on $100,000 bonds and had to give up their passports, which is sad for them because they have made literally millions of rich success guy webmaster in India who would be glad to offer them safe haven if they were able to flee the country.
The charges for each of them carry max sentences of 20 years and and $250,000 or twice the gross gain/loss. How much was the gross gain? Uhh… over $20,000,000 according to the court docs. So, yeah, maximum fine of $40,000,000, just for the criminal case. This is in addition to the civil suit Ebay has going with them, and as we all learned from the OJ trial, even if they don’t stick you with the criminal trial, the civil suit will get you for millions anyway.
Some specifics taken from revenews.com:
- Between 2006 and June 2007, Shawn Hogan (Digital Point Solutions) earned approximately $15.5 million in commissions from eBay. Hogan was eBay’s number one affiliate.
- Between 2006 and June 2007, Dunning (Kessler’s Flying Circus) earned approximately $5.3 million in commissions from eBay. Dunning was eBay’s number two affiliate.
- Hogan and Dunning are accused of generating hidden forced clicks on both their own web sites as well as sites not connected with the defendants in order to increase the number of computers storing the eBay affiliate tracking cookie.
- The legal criteria for wire fraud was established not on money (commissions) being transferred over the wires, but because of transmission of the tracking cookie between states and internationally.
- The affiliates attempted to hide the activity from eBay and CJ by not engaging in the cookie stuffing on computers located in San Jose (eBay headquarters) or Santa Barbara (CJ’s headquarters). This is geo-targeting and is readily known to be used by affiliates engaging in questionable activity. Of course, not all geo-targeting activity in nefarious.
- Both Hogan (2005) and Dunning (2006) denied any cookie stuffing behavior when questioned by CJ.
- Each individual wire fraud account is related to a particular incident on an IP address outside California (location of eBay servers) where an affiliate cookie for the defendants was set.
That’s over 20mil in fraud cookie stuffing commissions, kids.
Anndddd we have court docs:
Does this spell the end for Digital Point, the worst internet marketing forum to ever have existed? We can all only hope….well…maybe not all of us:
Keep it real.