Ripoff Report

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Ripoff Report
Web address
Type of site
Available in English
Created by Ed Magedson
Launched December 8, 1998
Current status Online

Ripoff Report is a privately owned and operated for-profit website founded by Ed Magedson.[1] The Ripoff Report has been online since December 1998 and is operated by Xcentric Ventures, LLC which is based in Tempe, Arizona.[2]

Reports and rebuttals

The Ripoff Report allows users over the age of 14[3] to post free, un-moderated and uncorroborated complaints known as 'reports' which contain details of the user's experience with the company or individual listed in the report. The site requires users to create an account which includes an unconfirmed email address before reports can be submitted.[3] According to the site's Terms of Service, users are required to affirm that their reports are truthful and accurate, but the site says that it neither investigates, confirms or corroborates the accuracy of submissions. Ripoff Report has more than 1 million pages indexed on Google.[4]

Companies who have been named in a report may choose to respond by submitting a "rebuttal" which explains their side of the story. There is no charge to submit a rebuttal, but users must first register for an account.

By creating an account, a user agrees to exclusive venue in Arizona for any legal dispute arising from his or her posting. In June 2013, a federal court in Maryland found that that this agreement did not prevent a user from suing both the author of a report and Ripoff Report in Maryland, because the user agreement applied only to the rebuttal, not to the report.[5]

"Non-removal" policy and exceptions

The Ripoff Report website claims that its stated policy is to refuse to remove reports. Ripoff Report states that it does not allow authors to remove their own reports, even in cases where a mistake has been made.[3]

This stated policy is disclosed to users in the site's Terms of Service.[3] While Ripoff Report claims not to "remove" reports, Ripoff Report advertises that it will remove (alter) specific information or add positive content to reports for participants in its paid programs, the Corporate Advocacy and Remediation Program[6] and the VIP Arbitration Program.[7] The site represents that all complaints remain public and unedited, with the exception of redactions for prevailing participants in the VIP Arbitration Program.[8] A longer discussion of the policy is found on the site's Frequently Asked Questions page.[9] In May 2013, Ripoff Report started offering a new service called "RipoffReport Verified" that allows paying members 14 days to resolve complaints before they are posted, for $89.95 a month.[10][11]

In one recent case, Blockowicz v. Williams, 675 F.Supp.2d 912 (N.D.Ill. 2009), a federal district court in Chicago found that Ripoff Report was not required to comply with an injunction to remove reports because it had not been named a defendant in the original lawsuit.[12]

In July 2010, Ripoff Report announced a new program called "VIP Arbitration" which has the stated purpose of offering victims of false reports a new way to clear their names.[13] According to the site, the arbitration program involves private third-party arbitrators who are paid to review disputed reports and render decisions about their accuracy.[13] Although Ripoff Report claims to refuse to remove reports, the site now explains: "Any statements of fact that the arbitrator determines to be false will be redacted from the original report."[14]

Litigation involving the Communications Decency Act

According to a United States law called the Communications Decency Act, under 47 U.S.C. § 230(c), websites like the Ripoff Report are excluded from certain forms of civil liability seeking to treat the site as the "publisher or speaker" of user-generated content. For certain claims, the exclusion from liability applies for material contributed by third parties that is false, and even if the site does not take any steps to investigate content prior to publication or remove content after receiving notice that the material is false.[15] Protection also extends to editorial changes made by the website operator itself, as long as such editing does not alter the meaning of the original third-party content.[16]

Other legal actions

Two Australians sued Google over their failure to remove links to defamatory content on Ripoff Report. In February 2011 Dr Janice Duffy filed defamation proceedings in South Australia.[17] In 2015, Duffy prevailed in her defamation case against Google for serving libelous comments, originating from Ripoff Report, and allowing its auto-complete function to assist users in finding the content. As of October 27, 2015, unresolved issues in the case are "...the defences of triviality and time limitation, the application for an extension of time, and causation and quantum of damages." [18][19] In February 2013, Jarrod Sierocki filed defamation proceedings in Queensland.[20] Sierocki won $287,788.00 in damages and interest against a former partner and client who were forced to admit that they had defamed SIerocki on Ripoff Report's un-redactable forum. A related case against Google appears to be working its way through the Australian courts as of April 23, 2015.[21]

In July 2013 the Government of India ordered a block on accessing the site. The block was removed the next month.[22]

In May 2014 the Australian search engine Yahoo!7 blocked the Ripoff Report after multiple defamation complaints.[23] It was unblocked after about a week.[24]

Ripoff Report's publisher, Xcentric Ventures, LLC, unsuccessfully sued consumers and their attorneys for malicious prosecution in federal district court in Phoenix, Arizona in 2011. In August 2015, the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals published their order affirming the district court's order dismissing the case. The ruling notes that Xcentric had sued over the consumers' underlying attempted racketeering extortion claim, which "alleged that Xcentric attempted to extort money by encouraging third parties to post negative reviews, manipulating the posts to highlight negative reviews and to further highlight the negative reviews if the businesses posted rebuttals, and then charging high fees to 'turn the negative into a positive.'" "The claim was tenable because a district court had previously held that similar allegations stated an extortion claim against Xcentric," the 9th Circuit wrote in its order.[25]

Corporate advocacy program

In website pages of Public Citizen, it was noted that Ripoff Report has received some criticism of its "Corporate Advocacy, Business Remediation & Customer Satisfaction Program,"[26] particularly whether Ripoff Report sufficiently discloses all facts that would influence the public's perception of the program.[27]

Ripoff Report provides its own description of the operation of the program in detail on the Ripoff Report website's Corporate Advocacy Program page.[28] The page advertises with an illustration of how the Google search results will be altered for members who join the program.[29]

In February 2007 the Phoenix New Times reported that at least 30 companies at that time paid Ripoff Report for participation in the Corporate Advocacy Program.[30] Forbes contributor Adam Tanner, reported in 2013, that the corporate advocacy program ranges from $5,500.00 and can exceed $100,000.00, third-party arbitration starts at $2000.00.[31] The Forbes article links to a Search Engine Land article that explains that while the Ripoff Report is protected under the Communications Decency Act, a person authoring false or defamatory content is not, the author can be sued, and Google can be petitioned to de-list the posting when a court order specifies de-listing.[32]


  1. Sruthi Pinnamaneni (2015-09-24). "#40 The Flower Child". (Podcast). Reply All (podcast). Retrieved 2015-09-24. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Federal Document listing address". Retrieved 2013-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Ripoffreport TOS". Retrieved 12 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Google index of ripoffreport". Retrieved 12 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. John C. Greiner (2013-06-25). "Is a Ripoff a minimum contact?". Lexology. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Synergy Capital & Insurance Complaint Review Gardena, California: 624941". Ripoff Report. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "VIP Arbitration Program. Remove Rip-off Report? Better yet! Ripoff Report VIP Arbitration Program. Reputation Repair & Reputation Management services can't deliver. Complaint Review Tempe, Internet, Arizona: 626838". Ripoff Report. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Ripoffreport FAQ". Retrieved 12 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Pierre Zarokian (18 July 2013). "Ripoff Report Launches Verified, a New Program to Shield Businesses From Negative Reviews".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Ripoff Report Verified". Retrieved 4 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Blockowicz v. Williams, 675 F.Supp.2d 912 (N.D.Ill. 2009), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits and frauds. File a report, post your review. Consumers educating consumers". Ripoff Report. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Ripoff Report Arbitration Page". Retrieved 2013-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Citizens Media Law Project.
  16. "Online Activities Covered by Section 230". Retrieved 2013-01-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Google being sued over Ripoff site". The Australian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Jenny Awford (27 October 2015). "Google found to have defamed Australian academic when its auto-complete function directed searchers to libelous comments about her". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 8 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Candice Marcus (27 October 2015). "Adelaide woman Dr Janice Duffy sues internet giant Google for defamation". ABC News AU. Archived from the original on 8 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. He [Justice Malcolm Blue] ruled that Google did publish defamatory material about Dr Duffy and ordered the case proceed to trial on the remaining unresolved issues.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Google sued by Brisbane businessman Jarrod Sierocki for defamatory forum posts". Courier-Mail (Australia).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Joshua Robertson (23 April 2015). "Record defamation payout of $287,788 awarded to Brisbane businessman". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015. The payout was four times as large as the previous highest amount awarded by a supreme court judge. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "Govt lifts ban from consumer complaint website". Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Yahoo7 Australia Drops Ripoff Report From Search Results After Defamation Complaints". Search Engine Land. 14 May 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "Ripoff Report Is Back In Yahoo Australia's Search Results, But Not Completely". Search Engine Land. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 16 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Florida Appeals Court Recognizes That Section 230 Immunity Extends to Injunctive Relief — Even When the Content Provider Collaborates in Seeking an Injunction (CL&P Blog)". 2011-12-29. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "Scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits and frauds. File a report, post your review. Consumers educating consumers". Ripoff Report. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Scams, reviews, complaints, lawsuits and frauds. File a report, post your review. Consumers educating consumers". Ripoff Report. Retrieved 2014-02-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. The Real Rip-Off Report Ed Magedson calls himself an advocate. His enemies call him an extortionist. Fenske, Sarah. Phoenix New Times. (February 1, 2007).
  31. Tanner, Adam (9 May 2013). "Love It Or Hate It, Ripoff Report Is In Expansion Mode". Forbes. Retrieved 14 December 2014. Asked about a comment alleging another woman had herpes, Magedson responds: "This f—— broad probably did something." He laughs when told about the downturn at Sarah Van Assche Interiors. If so much money was at stake, Magedson says, she should have sued her accuser for slander or paid Ripoff Report its $2,000 fee to conduct an arbitration.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. Hutcherson, Kenton (24 February 2011). "How To Remove Ripoff Reports From Google – Not Just Bury Them". Search Engine Land. Retrieved 14 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links