There is a new example in our continuing series on traditional handwritten signatures being used to fake court documents has surfaced. More below.
An article on the Motherboard website titled “You Probably Shouldn’t Forge a Judges Signature to Solve your SEO Problems” by Sarah Jeong posted on April 19, 2017, explains the story of the latest example of court document forgery.
First, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” that is very important in business so that a product or web page is sorted to the top of Google and other search engines. Higher ranking means more views and more revenue.
The article begins:
“A jewelry company CEO was arrested on Monday and charged with forging court orders in order to de-index negative reviews on Google.
In 2011, sapphire jewelry company CEO Michael Arnstein was desperate to salvage the Google results for his company. According to a lawsuit for defamation he filed in 2011, a former contractor for the Natural Sapphire Company who was fired for selling them buggy software launched a personal crusade to destroy the Natural Sapphire Company's Google search results. The defendant never showed up in court, so in 2012, a federal judge in New York granted Arnstein a default judgment along with an injunction to de-index 54 Google results.
But more fake reviews kept popping up. So Arnstein did something extremely ill-advised. According to the feds, Arnstein rounded up the bad Google results and forged new court orders to send to Google.”Later in the article, the defendant is quoted:
“But the really mindboggling part is where Arnstein straight up tells someone via email that he had "photoshop[ped] the documents for future use when new things 'popped up' and google legal never double checked my docs for validity."
"I could have saved 100k and 2 years of waiting/damage if I just used photoshop and a few hours of creative editing," he allegedly wrote. "Lawyers are often worse than the criminals."The article contains examples of the “Photoshopping” of the judge’s handwritten signature. And there is a related article in Courthouse News that is available at:
We have written about solutions before here in the CTB including document ID numbers for each judicial order that can be validated via public access and digital signatures. There are solutions.