Richard Splain & Potential Healthcare Scam? Traffic Power Story Continues to Unfold...

Well I have not verified all this data, but it sure does not sound good...

here is an article on MSNBC, claiming Richard Splain was involved in healthcare insurance scams & Wholesale RX scams:

Take a look at Nevada Health Care Network now.

The "for lease" sign in the window tells most of the story. The empty office behind it tells the rest.

"I could not locate the company. The phones were disconnected."

"After everything was closed down, we were still getting ripped off. Our account, our credit card, was being looted for the monthly fees.

There is also a KVBC news video on this page, and this article covers Wholesale RX:

News 3's Darcy Spears first exposed a local company called Wholesale RX that sells low cost prescriptions from other countries. Problem is, the drugs are not approved in the US, so they're illegal and could be dangerous. Since the investigation, the FDA has started to crack down on these companies.

And this site aims to connect the same person to Traffic Power & home buying scams.

PLEASE follow this guy Splain! HE IS A CROOK! He burned my wife and I in 2001 in a "we buy houses" scam. We got sued by the bank and had to file BK!! He also has ties to an Intenet Placement Company on Jones formerly called Traffic Power. I think called First Place. He needs prosecuted. I'd help!

The same name, Richard Splain, is also listed in a customer complaint email on Traffic Power Sucks:

I had even talked with Rich Splain one of the owners of TP who refused to help me get the service promised. I feel I was ripped off and deserve a refund like everyone else who was cheated by TP.

Wonder how many loose ends are still left untied? I doubt Richard tries suing MSNBC anytime soon, eh...

I know, I know, there might be multiple Richard Splain's, but this SEC info page lists him next to Matthew Marlon:

Xtreme Webworks has retained the Law Firm of Gordon & Silver, Las Vegas, Nevada to represent its interest in the pending litigation against former employees and defendants, Matthew Marlon and Richard Splain.

This document on Edgar Online also connects Richard Splain to Xtreme Webworks.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Not too long ago the Wall Street Journal also profiled the same Matthew Marlon & his street name:

Mr. Marlon, 61 years old, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy-court protection in 1996. In 1997, Mr. Marlon was indicted on charges of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, related to possession of a chemical used to make methamphetamine, and was sentenced to three years of probation, including six months of home confinement. The court record for his drug offense said he also had an alias, "Jimmy Ray Houts."

In case anyone is wondering why I care about this information, Traffic Power is a company that cold called me to promote a junky website that I am embarased to own. They later sent me a C&D claiming over a million dollars in damages, and then sent me a lawsuit. In spite of hiring a lawyer and personally talking to their lawyer I still have no idea of any specifics in why the lawsuit occured - other than them thinking they could push me around.

I spoke to one of their former employees last weekend, and need to talk to my lawyer about it first, but I may soon interview him. Stay tuned!

Google Wi-Fi in San Francisco?

SF Gate has an article about Google proposing to offer free Wifi to SF. The interesting bits:

Sacca said that Google, which makes virtually all its money from online advertising, had yet to determine whether it would include ads in the service. But Google said it would make its Wi-Fi network available for a fee to companies that want to offer paid Internet services. Sacca said there were no plans to share any revenue with the city.

Of course there will be ads...they will promote Google out of the deal...and ads are all that drive their business model :)

SBC thinks the city is already fairly well covered:

SBC spokesman John Britton said his company encourages competition but believes that governments should seek greater investment from private companies to increase broadband service. He said San Francisco already was served by SBC and enjoyed more than 400 free Wi-Fi hotspots, more than any other city in the country.

Earthlink does not like the Google idea:

"We've looked into free service, and we haven't found a model where free works," said Berryman. "At some point free becomes less sustainable because there's no way to upgrade service and the networks when no one's paying for it."

No surprise Google's competitors think Google doing free Wi-Fi is both unnecissary and unsustainable. Of course it's competitors do not have the largest database of human intentions and the largest ad network in the world.

Some think San Francisco is a bad test city because of it's rough terrain, but that - along with it being a tech culture mecca - is probably a good reason to use it as a test city. If you can get it to work there it should be no problem to get it to work elsewhere.

Others also made bids on the project, but Google is getting the press. How many business models Google kills before they are done achieving their goal? How far will public officials let Google control the information streams when other companies worth a few hundred billion dollars may go under if Google does everything they want?

Whether or not you like Google, you have to admit that in many fields they raise the bar on the competition, but I don't think it is good for anyone if one company is too dominant in the web - and Google seems to be making ALL the right moves thusfar.

One Step Too Far...

Intelligent Reaction

Adam Bosworth on It is about a 15 minute audio, and well worth a listen. Adam is one of the people who really get the web. The thesis of that speech is that by:

  • reacting quickly; and
  • providing a framework and marketplace for others to build on

a company is far more likely to succeed than trying to guess what people need and slowly building it all in house based on some master plan.

It is a bit unfortunate that people give Google crap whenever he expresses his opinions and others do not agree, as that has kept him from posting much on his blog.

link from TW

More on Publishing...

Tim O'Reilly likes Google Print, but realizes times are changing:

I do think that a lot of the resistance from publishers has to do with the fear of ultimately being disintermediated by Google. And it's a legitimate fear. The publishers who don't embrace the net will be swept away by it, while those who do will surf the wave to new excitement. Print-bound intermediaries will go away, but they will be replaced by new delivery-mechanism-agnostic intermediaries and business models. The role of the intermediary will remain because it's driven by the law of large numbers.

Tim also pointed at this amazing article: Piracy is Progressive Taxation, and Other Thoughts on the Evolution of Online Distribution.

Seth Godin reminds us that readers are already paying if they are paying attention, and as a bonus, posts on how / why ideas spread.

Full TP Profile Article - No Subscription Required

Some readers may not have a WSJ subscription and be able to read the recent TP profile in the Wall Street Journal, lucky for them the whole article is also available in the Startup Journal.

Usability is Everything (by Default)...So Says Jakob

This page shows exactly why search engine marketing is amazing:

Search engine users click the [search] results listings' top entry much more often than can be explained by relevancy ratings. Once again, people tend to stick to the defaults.

You can always tell a topical guru when they extend their typical testing or scope of information to include ideas which would typically be considered to be part of another field.

Many people describe the world with search being at the center of everything, others think you need to be able to Use It, while some explain the world through a deck of texas holdem playing cards <-- [link for sale, inquire within]. What lense do you see the world through? :)

Traffic Power Profiled in the WSJ - It's Not Pretty, Folks

Well, I can't think of a single way Traffic Power could be pleased by an article like this [sub req]. Some quotes:

Harold Hollister, a former salesman at the firm, said he was present during a morning pep talk on the sales floor where a manager stood on a desk and told salespeople that "a sucker is born every minute." Salespeople sometimes showed potential clients reports on existing Traffic Power clients, he said, highlighting how well the sites had done with the company's help. But some of those reports were falsified by the company, he said, and sites were listed with higher ranks than they actually had.

To be fair, Traffic Power denies that sucker is born claim:

Traffic Power said it was "absolutely untrue" that reports were falsified, and denied that managers ever told salespeople "a sucker is born every minute."

Now I don't have a perfect myself (tended to drink a bit much when in the Navy and such), but I can't imagine the Traffic Power CEO likes this WSJ profile at all:

Mr. Marlon, 61 years old, filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy-court protection in 1996. In 1997, Mr. Marlon was indicted on charges of conspiracy to manufacture a controlled substance. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, related to possession of a chemical used to make methamphetamine, and was sentenced to three years of probation, including six months of home confinement. The court record for his drug offense said he also had an alias, "Jimmy Ray Houts."

As far as past claims that Traffic Power and 1P are one and the same:

Not long after clients complained about getting dropped from Google -- and Traffic Power's own corporate site disappeared from the search engine's results -- Traffic Power began using different names to promote the same business, said former employees. Other names the company has used include, or First Place.

Mr. Kwasny, the former Traffic Power employee, said this strategy backfired with at least some potential clients. The company, he said, failed to change its name with its phone company, so when salespeople began calling potential clients and saying they were from, the listing on the client's phone said the call was coming from Traffic Power.

They sure are giving their PR firm some work! I can't imagine this article helps their lawyer much either.

Big Media Sites Learning About SEO?

It will be interesting to see what happens to search business models as more people realize some links are paid, while some sites rank due to algorithm manipulation, and others are there due to spyware.

As more and more big players get into the SEO field doing things like

  • focusing on a niche

  • creating unique ideas and products
  • being the first with the news
  • finding ways to make people want to talk about you (as Peter D mentioned here)

will become increasingly important.

Of course some of the big players suffer from their size. Due to it's past walled garden approach AOL has become so irrelevant that they may only account for a few perecent of Google's profits, and yet companies like the New York Times are hiding away more and more of their content.

I recently spoke with one journalist who after about an hour of chatting said that he thought SEO sounded more interesting than journalism. I will be interviewing a former journalist who is an SEO guru soon.

Hate Site Reappears?

For a while SEO Consultants hosted pages related to Traffic Power and

Out of nowhere (perhaps even magically) a degenerate hate site about Edward Lewis appeared. That hate site, which has a design that looks an awful lot like Traffic Power, disappeared around the same time that SEO Consultants dropped their Traffic Power coverage.

That hate site recently reappeared.

I can only guess as to why the Edward Lewis hate site reappeared, but if I had to guess why, it would be one of the following (although these are just guesses):

I wonder if the fake SEO forums will be reappearing as well soon? If so, I hope the server logs are protected. Especially when some of the old ones still show referal data from other sites.

Interesting to note this post, which was mentioned on SEO Consultants, is still live. I hope Edward sues.