No, Just Because A Site Contains 'Academic' 'Advantage' & 'Scam' On The Same Page, It Is Not Defamation Against Academic Advantage

from the bogus-threats dept

There are all sorts of bogus legal threats out there, but every so often you see ones that take the concept of the bogus legal threat to a new and more astounding level. I would argue that the following legal threat, sent to BoingBoing qualifies. On January 13th, BoingBoing received a cease & desist letter from the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh, written by Jubin Niamehr (who appears to be the only attorney at the firm not to get his name in the law firm's name). The complaint against BoingBoing is almost too bizarre to be believed. Basically, the law firm represents a company named Academic Advantage. In 2009, Boingboing wrote a blog post that had absolutely nothing to do with the company Academic Advantage. However, it did use the phrase "academic advantage" in the title of a post called "Autism as an academic advantage."

Again, the post had absolutely nothing to do with the company Academic Advantage.

Then, way down in the comments, an anonymous commenter talked about his own experience with autism and academia. In it, that commenter notes that, in his opinion, college was "a scam." Once again, this commenter is not speaking about the company Academic Advantage at all. He is not calling the company Academic Advantage a scam.

So what happens? According to Niamehr, apparently representing the company Academic Advantage, somehow, this all adds up to a prima facie case of defamation against Academic Advantage:
It is clear there is no purpose to this web address but to falsely accuse the Academic Advantage of being a scam or at least associating the Academic Advantage with a scam. There is absolutely no helpful reason for the website to have the words "Academic," "Advantage" and "Scam" which leads me to believe it was created for malicious purposes. Claiming that our client's tutoring services program is a "SCAM" is prima facie defamation and designed to do nothing more than damage our client's reputation.
I would love to see this law firm go to court and try to defend the claim that the post on BoingBoing (which is actually quite interesting) was designed to do nothing more than damage Academic Advantage when absolutely nothing in the post or the comments is about the company Academic Advantage. Furthermore, of course, making this even more ridiculous, the "scam" part of it (which again, is not at all about the company Academic Advantage) was put there by a commenter, so even if this was defamatory -- which again, it cannot be, since it's not about the company -- then the law firm of Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh, and its partner Jubin Niamehr, should know that the site itself is protected from such charges by Section 230 of the CDA, since the "scam" claim would have come from a commenter. But, of course, you don't even need to get that far, since nothing on the page talks about the company in question.

One would hope that Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh did not charge the company Academic Advantage for the time it took to put together such a letter.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 9:41am

    Getting Their Money's Worth, No doubt

    Yet another law firm to file under "N", for "Never hire for anything. Ever."

     

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      Not an electronic Rodent, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 5:59am

      Re: Getting Their Money's Worth, No doubt

      Yet another law firm to file under "N", for "Never hire for anything. Ever."
      Call me a cynic but wouldn't maintaining a filing under "M" for "Might not be a total bunch of asshats" require signigicantly less work? Trying to maintain a list of bad lawyers is like trying to maintain an internet blacklist. Save you some effort here at least.

       

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    Thomas (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    "... significant and possibly irrevocable damage."

    But the bogus lawsuits, the fact that "Academic Advantage Scam" is the FIRST auto-complete suggestion, and the renewed interest and publicity for the SCAM association are an absolute BOON to our client, and money well spent.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 10:44am

    What we need...

    Is a law stating that bad faith lawsuits are charged to the prosecutor personally.

    That will really make people think twice about stupid lawsuits such as this.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:07am

      Re: What we need...

      It's just a nastygram as this point, not a lawsuit. I'm sure the owner of BoingBoing wouldn't mind, though - watching a judge rip these lawyers a new one would have great comedic value.

       

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:09am

      Re: What we need...

      Add a short, must be actually and fully served in jail, jail time for both the claimant and their attorney and I'm in.

       

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    Liskula Cohen, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Jubin Niamehr is a skank but not a scammer.

     

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    Ben (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    So they found BoingBoing via some kind of search (web crawler?) I assume?

    Without actually reading the article, it just came up in their list of sites which have the three words together (or have 'Academic Advantage' in the same article as 'Scam').

    In which case, Techdirt is next, and then me! *flees*

    (incidentally, I bet 'Scam' wasn't the only word they looked for in association. My guesses include: 'sucks','smells of pee pee', 'raped my childhood' and 'is in favour of Wikileaks').

     

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      SUNWARD (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:07pm

      google search

      yep, auto complete has scam as the first suggestion when searching for "Academic Advantage"

      trying to do damage control and failing badly.

       

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        Vincent Clement (profile), Jan 18th, 2011 @ 11:39am

        Re: google search

        Not a good sign when Google lists "academic advantage scam" as the first or second auto complete suggestion and when you hire a law firm to send out C&D letters to anyone using the words "academic", "advantage" and "scam".

        Yes, this is a business that I would want to be associated with. Not.

         

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    Alex Hagen, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:16am

    Yep, it is a scam.

    And with a quick Google, I see what I suspected was true; Academic Advantage does indeed appear to be a scam. You can't entirely blame the law firm, because with all the websites out there filled with people who got ripped off and jerked around by this company, they are probably getting a bit overwhelmed.

     

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      The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:34am

      Re: Yep, it is a scam.

      Being overwhelmed is a fair excuse for not getting all of a job done. It is no excuse at all for doing an extremely poor job on what you do get done.

       

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    VoicesInMyHead (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Turn-about is fait play?

    FIFY

    Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh,

    It is clear there is no purpose in the letter dated January 13, 2011 but to falsely accuse BoingBoing of being a scam or at least associating BoingBoing with a scam.

    There is absolutely no helpful reason for the letter to have the words "BoingBoing" and "Scam" which leads me to believe it was created for malicious purposes.

    Claiming that BoingBoing is a "SCAM" is prima facie defamation and designed to do nothing more than damage BoingBoing's reputation.
    /sarc

     

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    mischab1, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    I specially like the "Enclosed is a printout of the webpage for your convenience." line.

     

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    Trails (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Ambulance Chasers

    The firm's site lists their specialties as "Animal Attacks, Brain Injury, Broken Bone Injury, Car Accidents, Dog Bites, Lemon Law, Negligence, Personal Injury, Premises Liability, Slip and Falls, Soft Tissue Injury, Whiplash Injury, Wrongful Death". These guys are ambulance chasers.

    Jubin's bio page lists his specialties as general corporate and finance stuff. Still, given the company he keeps, this leads me to the opinion that he is the corporate ambulance chaser. They don't care if it's right or even if it works, so long as they can pitch the idea to the client, and bill them for it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    What's that I heard? Academic Advantage is a Scam?

    Academic Advantage doesn't work?
    Academic Advantage isn't worth the money?

    ...what is Academic Advantage anyway?

     

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    ofb2632 (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    consequences

    what are the consequences of filing a false take down notice? Why are there not lawyers out there getting rich from counter suing these people???

     

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    Johnny, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Some people do feel it's a scam

    A little legwork on Google, tells us that some people do feel that Academic Advantage is a scam:
    http://www.mojopages.com/biz/the-academic-advantage/los-angeles/ca/90064/10615221

    Disclaim er for 2bit lawyers: I am not saying that Academic Advantage IS a scam, only that these other upstanding citizens - 4 of them - seem to think that it is. Their complaint being that they haven't been paid for their work...

    Great bunch of lawyers, looks like those three words are going to appear together a lot more often on the web. How much did they charge for that?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

      Re: Some people do feel it's a scam

      Woot! Scamers hiring scamers to spot scamers(I should have wrote "liers" but it wouldn't have the same effect)?

       

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    Andrew (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

    Result!

    I note that this post is already coming up at position 10 in Google for 'academic advantage' (admittedly in the news section, but still). I'm sure BoingBoing's post will feature prominently too, thanks to the links it's bound to generate. Hello Streisand Effect...?

     

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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    I'm sorry Dave...

    Staring into the existence of this C&D... "My god... it's full of fail!" (cue 2001 theme song)

     

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    Howard the Duck, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 2:05pm

    Meta Tags

    Does anybody still use them? If so, beware...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 2:23pm

    This is the work of sloppy lawyers that produced a product and are trying to deliver anything at all to prove that they are needed by their clients.


    "We will protect your image on the internet, we can do it, hire us and we will protect you I promise"

    LoL

    Now surely the scamming part is not Boingo Boingo :)

     

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    Jim O (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

    Methinks

    the Academic Advantage doth protest too much.

     

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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Jan 17th, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    Academic Advantage is made of boogers

    Academic Advantage hires shitty law firms

    Academic Advantage derk our jerbs

     

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    Jose_X, Jan 17th, 2011 @ 6:56pm

    Ugly tactics to dominate standings

    This company, Academic Advantage, seems to me to be working hard (and, in my opinion, unethically) to scare into submission competition for google's top spot on the search term "academic advantage".

    I think it is an academic disservice to promote a business that tries to monopolize, more so when it appears they use tactics that have little to do with academic advantage or their primary business.

     

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    mike acker, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 3:55am

    predatory litigation

    this should be from the "Predatory Litigation" De[t. I'd say. The action was probably derived from one of the Reputation Defender scanners

     

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    Past Participle, Jan 18th, 2011 @ 1:52pm

    I'm sure, as practicing lawyers, that the partners at Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh are well aware that the following are some common synonyms for the word "shyster": unscrupulous lawyer; swindler; ambulance chaser, cheater, chiseler, crooked lawyer, mouthpiece, pettifogger, scammer, trickster, unethical lawyer. I also believe that the partners at Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh must be aware that the word "shyster" itself is a synonym for some of the following words: cheat, bluff, charlatan, chiseler, con artist, confidence operator, conniver, cozener, crook, deceiver, decoy, defrauder, dodger, double-crosser, double-dealer, enticer, fake, hypocrite, impostor, inveigler, jockey, masquerader, pretender, quack, rascal, rogue, scammer, shark, sharper, shyster, swindler, trickster.

    One hopes that the partners at Lazar, Akiva & Yagoubzadeh are aware of such bad, malign, unethical, crooked and downright quackish synonyms for the word "shyster".

     

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    ahumancertainty, Nov 1st, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    The funny thing is that Academic Advantage actually is a scam. It's a notoriously sketchy company known for not paying it's employees.

     

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    Chet, Aug 27th, 2012 @ 1:37pm

    I hav had all kindz of problems with lawyers just like these one. Dana Ward (for those interigued 223-58-4786) had done a diservice to us and have givn us numerous complaints and prolbems.

     

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