Pro Tip: Don’t Use Your Fetish Community E-Mail Address To Set Up Websites Defaming An Adversary Who Killed Your Boss’ Turtles

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Luis García [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Luis García [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A few years ago, multiple felon, successful businessman and government contractor Ross Hansen was a little vexed. In his free time from running Northwest Territorial Mint, making military medals and ornaments for the White House Christmas tree, among presumably other things that add up to $200 million in annual sales, he would go out to the ponds near his Seattle office to tend to his turtles. Then, someone killed his turtles, and his landlord, Bradley Cohen, did nothing about it. Probably because Cohen suspected that Hansen had, in fact, killed his turtles with the run-off from the metal fabricating he was doing on the site, which Cohen was incidentally suing him over for having failed to clean up when he left the place.

What choice did Hansen have but to set up a website accusing Cohen of defrauding his investors? None, apparently. And after all, it had worked before.

The alert linked to a website carrying the headline: “Is Bradley S. Cohen the Next Bernie Madoff ?” It showed a photo of Mr. Cohen alongside a photo of the notorious swindler with a list of allegedly “alarming similarities” between the two men. It falsely suggested Mr. Cohen had criminal convictions for fraud and money-laundering and that his industrial real-estate firm, Cohen Asset Management Inc., was a Ponzi scheme….

Once identified, Mr. Hansen embraced his role as creator of the two websites. In a deposition, Mr. Hansen said he created them partly to show Mr. Cohen “for the liar, the thief, and the cheat that he is.” He said he came to that conclusion after being a tenant and defendant in the building litigation, which he felt Mr. Cohen improperly pursued….

In his deposition, Mr. Hansen said he had hoped the websites would help him resolve the building litigation, whose cost “was killing me.” He said he had used the same tactic with a vendor in a dispute over money he said he didn’t owe. When he put up a website criticizing that company, “they went away.”

Of course, being identified was the key flaw in Hansen’s plan, which ended with a $38 million defamation judgment against him. If only the underling he used to set up the website had just used a different e-mail address to indulge in his extracurricular activities, he might just have gotten away with it.

The email address used to set up the anti-Cohen websites had also been employed by Mr. Firebaugh to set up a personal profile on a website that describes itself as a “fetish and bondage play destination online for the worldwide alternative dating community.”

Mr. Mitama said he used information from that profile to match it to a profile Mr. Firebaugh had created under his real name at the professional networking website LinkedIn. He said he discovered another Firebaugh email address tied to the 80teasel address to further verify the identification.

This kind of thing doesn’t help, either.

During that 2012 deposition, Mr. Hansen made what Mr. Cohen considered a threat.

“I’m going to inflict lots of pain on your client,” he warned, enough so “your client will roll over on the lawsuit….”

Late in 2015…. he received an urgent call from an FBI agent saying the agent needed to come over to the Cohen house immediately.

About an hour later, the agent was there. Two government informants said someone was trying to pay to have him killed.

Cohen hasn’t seen any of the $38 million yet, but he has started spending it.

Besides now owning both the Madoff-related websites as a result of the litigation, Mr. Cohen has also spent about $5,000 to purchase more than 450 internet domain names to head off possible future attacks. The names range from the vanilla bradcohenreview.com to the provocative bradcohenfraud.com.

One Man’s Bid to Clear His Name Online: 4 Years, $3 Million and Some Dead Turtles [WSJ]

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