Nevada Anti-SLAPP Law Threatened

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In 2013, Nevada enacted an anti-SLAPP law… something all states should have, but only 28 do (and those laws vary in quality). SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” It’s basically the type of lawsuit that is filed in order to get people to shut up.

I am no stranger to such suits. I was sued in this fashion by Medifast Inc. (aka Take Shape for Life) in 2010, and it took over five years for me to be dismissed, have the dismissal affirmed, and have the court order Medifast to pay my attorneys’ fees. The whole point of the Medifast lawsuit was to make me stop saying unflattering things about the company. And to scare anyone else who might dare to say bad things about the company…. the cost of litigation is tremendous, and companies like Medifast use the threat of litigation to shut up their critics. Continue reading

The Case for Anti-SLAPP Legislation

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SLAPPFreedom of speech reigns in the United States. Unless you are criticizing a person or company with the funds to sue you into infinity. Then you could find yourself on the receiving end of an expensive lawsuit that has no aim other than to shut you up. (Case study: Medifast Inc.’s $270 million lawsuit against me and others; I have won and Medifast is now trying to get out of paying the $300k+ of legal fees they are required to pay.)

Attorney Eric Turkewitz writes about his experience with SLAPP suits in New York. (SLAPP = Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Although the law protects people who write truthful things and/or state their opinions, the legal process of getting a case dismissed is onerous without anti-SLAPP laws. (Even with anti-SLAPP laws, it can still be expensive. Medifast sued in California, where there is good anti-SLAPP legislation, but it still took over $300k in attorneys fees — not counting the hundreds of thousands of dollars the other defendants spent on their attorneys — and over four years of litigation to get the suit against me dismissed.) Continue reading

For Aspiring Forensic Accountants and Fraud Investigators

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forensic-accountingI receive many requests for information on the field of forensic accounting, including questions on courses of study, certification, job opportunities, and preparing for a career. Over four years ago I wrote this article for students and job seekers, and I thought it was a good time to update the information.

The first three bullet points of the article still hold true. If you want to work in the area of fraud investigation and forensic accounting, make sure all of your education and job choices put you on that path. Even if you can’t get started as a forensic accountant right away, make sure you’re doing everything you can to at least get a little bit of experience in the area. The more experience you have, the more attractive a candidate you will be for future jobs. Continue reading

Forensic Accountants and the Private Investigator License

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magnifyprintRecently the AICPA published an article on its Journal of Accountancy website regarding private investigator licensing rules across the country. There is a concern that forensic accountants may be subject to private investigator regulations since they are doing investigative work. The AICPA has drafted a grid outlining the regulations by state, but you should do further research on your own because it does not tell the whole story.

The grid provides the following information on private investigators in Wisconsin: Continue reading

Calculating Damages: What is Reasonable Certainty?

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chartmagnifyOne of the common issues raised when an expert calculates damages is “reasonable certainty.” It is not uncommon for opposing counsel to suggest that the expert’s calculated damages are speculative.

The calculation of damages necessarily requires estimates and assumptions. Something has happened, and a company or individual is claiming that there are lost profits because of it. We can never know with complete certainty what revenue or profits would have been if that incident or action had not taken place. Mathematical precision is not possible. Thus, the expert must make certain estimates in order to calculate damages. Continue reading

Do Former Law Enforcement Officers Make Better Forensic Accountants?

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Today Brian Willingham of the Diligentia Group has inspired me with his article Do Former Law Enforcement Officers Make Better Private Investigators? While Brian agrees that experience in law enforcement can be helpful to a private investigator, it does not necessarily make that investigator better. The same can be said for forensic accountants and fraud investigators: Law enforcement experience can be helpful, but it is not as important as you might believe.

Brian points us to a video that suggests that: Continue reading

Stopping Crystal Cox’s Harassment and Extortion

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Last week Marc Randazza, his wife Jennifer, and his daughter Natalia filed suit against “investigative blogger” Crystal Cox in United States District Court in Nevada. The suit is a treasure trove of tales about a nutty blogger who fancies herself an investigator and protector of civil rights.

The backstory has been covered here before. Crystal gained her nutty notoriety because of her attacks on Kevin Padrick and Obsidian Finance. In steps Marc Randazza, noted First Amendment lawyer, who considered representing Cox in that case. After that went south, Crystal Cox started buying domain names which included the names of Randazza, his wife, and their three-year-old daughter. She¬† offered Randazza “reputation management services,” whereby she would refrain from posting defamatory things about him on her websites if Randazza paid her enough. That, my friends, is extortion.

The complaint summarizes: Continue reading

Right to Free Speech Wins Again

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Popehat points us to a nice victory by SOCNET in a lawsuit filed by John Giduck, the man who claims he was defamed when a SOCNET user stated that he was fraudulently posing as a Special Forces veteran.

The court granted SOCNET’s motion to dismiss (even with no anti-SLAPP statute in Colorado), saying:

It is this tension that has generated numerous cases addressing the first element of a defamation action, i.e. is the statement defamatory. Not every untrue, uncomplimentary or offensive statement concerning an individual is defamatory. Continue reading

Defamation and Statements of Opinion

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A couple of months ago, a ruling on an anti-SLAPP motion in a defamation case against Gawker Media (owner of website Gizmodo) got my attention. Scott Redmond, with his service called Peep Telephony (or Peep Wireless), was upset because Gizmodo posted a negative review of the service. More specifically, Gizmodo called the service a scam, saying that it offers “free” cellular service for phone calls, texts, and data access. A look at Peep’s website produced this criticism:

To be frank, this all sounds like bullshit. In fact, the combination of everything described was so strange, it almost made the company seem like a larger-than-life prank on the tech world. The closest thing to a technical explanation for Peep is this: Continue reading