Our story so far:
Back on December 9th, my young niece informed me (via Facebook) that she had discovered her name publicly posted on a DeepCapture website (a site with connections to some of the folks at Overstock.com).
That was the first discovery of the “Facebook Friends scraping” operation.
My assumption was that the asshats at DeepCapture had exploited a Facebook security lapse, and grabbed all of the friends and family of any one who had the temerity to so much as discuss this 3rd rate retailer, Overstock.com. (See DeepCapture.com Scraping Facebook Friends).
The reality turned out to be far more insidious than that: A career douche bag (and possible pedarast) named Judd Bagley (connected to Overstock in myriad ways) decided to engage in some fraudulent pretexting. He assumed a false persona on Facebook, using someone else’s name and photo (perhaps committing a Felony in NYS). He then began cyber-stalking the children, friends and family of numerous journalists, bloggers and fund mangers. After friending all the kiddies, Bagley posted their names, friends, etc. at the Deep Capture site.
At that point, I had seen enough. I spoke to my lawyer (more on this later), then I put up a post titled Boycott Overstock.com. (Note that legal counsel is only allowing me to reference items already published publicly. There are other things I am not at liberty to discuss — yet)
One would think that the CEO of an online retailer might have enough common sense not to piss off the blogosphere before the Christmas shopping season. That assumes all retail CEOs are not functional idiots; As it turns out, what appears to be the case for only most retail CEOs.
Our story continues: Soon thereafter, a modest article appeared in the NY Observer about the pretexter/possible pederast. It was to my eyes, way too generous considering the sleazoid subject of the article, who, in addition to stalking children online, is a probable sociopath (look it up — the shoe fits).
The fun never stops: Today in The Big Money, former Fortune writer Roddy Boyd delivers a brutal smackdown on the clueless CEO who has ran Overstock.com into the ground: Titled America’s Nastiest CEO, it is about a Overstock.com executive Patrick Byrne.
Rather than excerpt it, I can briefly sumarize: Overstock has engaged in a variety of actions and inactions that are likely to subject it to various future civil, regulatory and tax proceedings in various courts. The heart of the article reflects a tax scam run by the firm to avoid paying New York State retail sales taxes. I would expect the New York and/or the SEC to use Boyd’s article as a road map for any prosecution. It is clear upon first reading this article that not only is this a disastrous retail operation, but it is run by a deeply disturbed individual who seems to have never tripped across “The Truth” even by accident.
But you have yet to hear the most amusing part: Gary Weiss points out that the trading in Overstock today reflects some frantic sellers in advance of this brutal article. Someone appears to have known that bad news was coming, and they dumped plenty of shares.Its something else for the SEC to investigate — whether or not insiders at Ovestock dumped shares, or warned others to do the same.
Here is a bit of irony: On paper, you might be led to think that Byrne is a bright guy — undergrad at Dartmouth, a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford, a Marshall scholar. It just goes to show you that having book smarts, being people savvy and possessing common sense can all be mutually exclusive.
The whole sordid tale of Overstock.com has one rule of thumb here that investors should learn for their own benefit: Anytime a CEO complains about short sellers, run don’t walk to the nearest exit.
America’s Nastiest CEO
Think business journalists are too timid? Look what happens when you go after a struggling firm.
By Roddy Boyd
The Big Money, January 19, 2010 – 4:31pm