If there’s one thing I do pretty well, it’s sniffing out scammers…
In early 2019, I warned the WordPress community about Rank Math SEO, a new plugin that seemed to be taking WordPress by storm. Despite an incredible amount of bugs, errors, crashed websites, slow performance, and spyware literally embedded into their code that calls home to their servers — plus, a bizarre single-point-of-failure vulnerability, meaning that for your WordPress site to properly function, it relies on Rank Math’s third party servers to be online — dozens and dozens of bloggers and influencers were singing their praise.
(My next blog post will expose a large part of their illegal syndicate. But for the purpose of initial validation, here’s a now-deleted review of Rank Math written by Panagis, and a still-live review of Rank Math written by Jackson for Kinsta that uses the same exact keyword language agreed upon by the members of their black hat network e.g. “swiss army knife”… compare with the many fake reviews on Quora from paid Indian bloggers, etc.)
“Facts are threatening to those invested in fraud.”
The team behind Rank Math SEO is the same gang of Indian scam artists behind MyThemeShop, which has been committing blatant consumer fraud for years. And just like in the past, founders Bhanu Ahluwalia and Suraj Vibhute are paying off dozens of bloggers and “influencers” to mention their plugin and give it an unquestioning 5-star “review” on directories like Product Hunt, WordPress.org, and many others — a fraudulent practice common not only in the WordPress community, but in India especially.
Besides blatant fraud, MyThemeShop locks you out of your theme settings if you fail to pay them. This is not only unethical, but it also breaks the terms of the GPL license required by WordPress, not to mention an array (arguably) of laws in the United States, India, and beyond.
None of this, however, seems to matter to the staff at WordPress.org, who have gone out of their way to approve fraudulent 5-star reviews on MyThemeShop products. When I left a public review exposing the spyware that was embedded, and then blogged about the fraud and slander that Rank Math and Alex Panagis were involved with, Samuel Otto Wood responded by deleting my review and then “noindexing” all of LittleBizzy’s positive reviews on WordPress.org in an effort to hurt our reputation for unknown reasons.
To their credit, some of their hype tactics have worked — however fraudulent they might be. Nobody said that fraud doesn’t work; on the contrary, it tends to work very well, especially online. After all, consumers don’t know anyone from Adam, so a few gold stars and positive words is often enough to convince them.
The thing is, I’ve dealt with Indian mafia before, and they’re extremely predictable. While living in Thailand, I worked with the Bangkok Post newspaper to expose a gang of Indians who thought they had control over a satellite campus of Webster University, and who were threatening to kill American students there who had grown tired of their shameless embezzlement of student funds. Eventually, the campus president was fired, along with a few of his conspirators, and the U.S. Department of Education promised to investigate.
I would not be surprised if any HONEST members of the business community in India were to investigate the people behind MyThemeShop and Rank Math and therein discover a laundry list of misdeeds taking place. Unfortunately, paying off a shit ton of fake customers to lie for you, and threatening to kill anyone that gets in your way, is simply business as usual in much of South Asia.
And so goes the following voicemail from Rank Math SEO on July 30, 2019:
“Go fuck and die, you motherfucker!!!”
That’s it, verbatim. From India, with love. Seriously guys, way to reaffirm every negative stereotype about Indian-run companies. Take a look at rtCamp if you want an incredibly transparent role model.
So a big congratulations to all the hip young douchebags who think its cool to conspire with other black hat SEO scammers on “secret” Slack channels and “VIP” Facebook groups. Those of us with good business ethics and you know, even a basic conscience, will continue to expose you.
P.S. in case you’re wondering, we’re filing police reports in the United States and India, not that we expect the shamelessly corrupt police in India to care. But blogging is forever, isn’t it…Last modified: 1 Aug, 2019
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