The Real Rip-Off Report

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Miller, clearly, has gotten under Magedson's skin. And one reason, even beyond the whole death-threat controversy, is that he's built, by far, the most damning case against Magedson.

Two years ago, Miller put up a Web site devoted entirely to bashing Magedson. It included his mug shot for a 1970s pot bust (the charges were later dropped) and the fact he'd been arrested for passing bad checks. (Those charges were dropped, too.) It also claims he's a wanted criminal, a slur that would certainly be at home on the Rip-Off Report, but which seems to have little basis in reality.

But beyond the rhetoric, there's that deposition, the one time Ed Magedson's talked under oath about the Rip-Off Report. And, under questioning from Miller's attorney, Magedson seems to admit the allegation that he still denies most vehemently: that, for money, he's deleted reports from his site.

Under oath, Magedson first said that no, he didn't remove complaints for the businesses that were paying him. Then he changed his tune.

When Magedson was first developing his corporate advocacy program, he was working with a company called Mini Vacations. And when someone posted something about Mini Vacations that was clearly false, Magedson seemed to admit under oath that he'd removed the complaint.

He said it was "a test," though he didn't explain what he meant. "And we did it for a very good reason," he added, "and we never did it again."

"What was the very good reason?" Miller's attorney asked.

"It was a company that was on the program," Magedson said. "And this company has like — if every company was like them . . . I wouldn't even have as much jobs. This company is an excellent company."

When the attorney prodded him, Magedson tried to backtrack.

"I don't know if I ended up doing it or not," Magedson concluded. "I had offered it. Or either I changed the reports that they were bogus, or I removed some of the reports. But that was — excuse me, one time that I did that, if I did not. And I honestly could not remember.

"If you offered me a million dollars right now, 'Ed, could you tell me absolute, either yes or no,' . . . I could not tell if you if I ended up deleting the — some of the reports."

In a telephone followup with New Times last week, Magedson denied saying that. He agrees that, initially, when he was working with Mini Vacations to develop the corporate advocacy program, he discussed deleting reports for companies. But that idea was scrapped.

He e-mails later to say that the deposition is wrong, that the court reporter screwed up. He's now certain he never removed a report.

But Steve Miller is sure he's got him — and under oath, no less.

He sees Magedson as a sophisticated scammer who happened to approach the wrong guy.

"When he gets somebody like me contacting him, that's when he starts licking his chops," Miller says. "He has a mark. He wanted me to pay him. I told him to screw off."

Miller ultimately dropped his lawsuit: "I got him in deposition, which was my goal all along. I wanted to show the world he's a liar and a loser."

If nothing else, Miller's Web site is proof that Magedson's warning to the business owner who contacted him at Chompie's is correct: We're all going to end up tarred online by someone.

Especially if we prove as controversial as Ed Magedson.

These days, if you Google "Ed Magedson," you don't get Steve Miller's Web site in your top hits, but if you want the dirt on Magedson, you still have plenty of options. The second link is to a site put up by an entirely different critic. It proclaims that "Ed Magedson is a wanted criminal that extorts individuals." And the third link, www.goodbusinessbureau.com, claims that "Ed Magedson founder of ripoffreport.com is a wanted criminal that extorts individuals and legitimate companies for money."

This is how things work in the age of the Internet.

Want to out-shout Ed Magedson? You may not need his corporate advocacy program. You just need to build a better Web site.

Magedson, of course, has his mantra. Though he's initially chagrined to be asked about the specifics that guys like Miller have uncovered, he calls later to make it clear he understands how the process works. He knows that he suggested New Times look into the controversy around him. He's a big boy.

"I know when people stop suing me, and stop talking about me, and stop threatening me, that's when I'll have to worry," he says, for the fourth time.

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Sarah Fenske
Contact: Sarah Fenske