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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Search Direct Media Scam


    Search Direct Media, One Top Firm, MySpace Guardian, Portal Response Technology, Client Placement Services are SCAMS.

    Their pitch has been around a long time, and there’s been a trail of unsatisfied customers posting their experiences on the internet.

    The pitch sounds simple: get a banner ad for your business placed above all results of a given search engine, plus a 100% refund if you don’t achieve a guaranteed number of hits on your website.

    We’ll call the perpetrators “The Pitchmen”.

    How the Pitch Works
    (reprinted: http://professionalwebservices.blogs...gine-data.html)

    The Setup

    The first element is a Trojan Horse in the form of a TOOLBAR that the Pitchmen have created. This toolbar is meant to have alleged utility for a wide audience. One of them is called the BizformBar. The other is called the MySpace Guardian, which claims to help parents protect their children while they are on MySpace. They may claim it has been featured on Dateline, or other high-profile shows.

    The Pitchmen issue a press release to raise awareness in the hopes of creating an actual base of users, and in order to get unsuspecting people to download it.

    Once downloaded, if someone performs a search in the browser, the program takes over a millisecond before the actual results are displayed, the information is data merged and manipulated with other pay-for-keywords data feeds. Then, when the search results page is displayed to the user it looks like the natural results with targeted Banner Ads at the top of the leading search engines. The Pitchmen claim to have 10 to 20 million network users.

    Springing the Trap

    Enter any professional business looking for leads in the hot consumer market place. An agent (you) gets a cold call from a nice, sincere sales rep asking if you are interested in getting thousands of leads and website visitors guaranteed. You can get your website at the top of certain keywords searches from their alleged millions of network users! Of course with numbers like that, anyone would want to hear more information.

    The sales person answers, "Let's say someone does a search for: 'San Ramon Homes For Sale’. We can place your real estate website as a banner ad above all search results or anyone looking at Homes For Sale in San Ramon. You get thousands of hits because people are using keywords you have exclusively registered with us! Imagine being number one!"

    They send you to their website, and ask you to download the toolbar, or to click on the orange bar labeled “online demo”. You type in your web address and a keyword, and there you see the top portion of your webpage above the Google or other search engine results. Wow! It really works!

    You choose as many keywords that you think are relevant for you, and they offer a discount if you buy in bulk. Of course, keywords that are used frequently cost a lot more. They determine which keywords are best by directing you to www.seobook.com, which lists exactly that information.

    And the best part is that it’s 100% guaranteed! If you don’t get a minimum number of hits during a certain period. they will refund your money! Right?

    The Blowoff

    By the end of the Guarantee Period, the minimum number of hits has been achieved. But the client has received no actual leads. The ones they have received are designed not to convert into actual sales. The client receives no business whatsoever.

    When the client complains, the Pitchmen gives excuses. The first is, “We said your banner ad would be viewed, not that you website would actually be visited”.

    Or if you got any “leads” but somehow they never converted to sales, they’ll say, “We sent you the leads. It’s YOUR fault you couldn’t convert”.

    Or they pull a log from their server “proving” that the minimum number of visitors had been achieved. But since each “hit” actually travels from the computer allegedly performing the site visit through the Pitchmen’s servers, there is no way to actually verify that a unique computer user visited the site.

    You do not receive your refund. And funny…the traffic that started arriving at your website when your deal closed has dropped to almost zero now that the Guarantee Period is over.

    Does this sound like a scam to you? Think it over.

    Questions People Should Ask…But Don’t

    HOW many toolbar downloads?

    1) The installed base of PC computers with internet access in the USA is about 58 million, according to the US Census. The Pitchmen’s claim of 10 – 20 million network users means that 20 – 40% of every US computer has the MySpace Guardian Toolbar (“MSG Tool”). Do you REALLY believe that? How many people do YOU know that have the MSG Tool?
    2) If this toolbar is so widespread, why haven’t you heard about it before?
    3) If there have been millions of downloads, why is it that the number of downloads at popular 3rd party websites like download.com and windowsmarketplace.com show less than 10,000?
    4) The MSG Tool was announced in May of 2006. How could they have reached 10 – 20 million MSG Tool downloads in just under 18 months?
    5) Alexa.com’s toolbar, which shows website traffic for selected sites, is one of the most popular toolbar downloads EVER. It’s only been downloaded 10 million times.
    6) Alexa.com’s traffic information shows that all sites associated with MSG Toolbar and BizFormBar have almost nil traffic.
    7) What counts as a “download”? Downloads to UNIQUE computers? Downloads to bogus, Pitchmen-owned computers?
    8) How many VERIFIED INSTALLATIONS of the toolbar exist? And most importantly…
    9) How can the Pitchmen PROVE TO YOU that their claims are real?

    If they can’t prove it, then you can’t verify it. If you can’t verify it, why should you believe it? Because they said so? Because they “sound sincere”?

    What is a “guaranteed hit” to my website?

    1) Are they fake, inorganic hits that the Pitchmen create using ‘bots, low-paid foreign shills who are paid by the click, and/or hits generated by the Pitchmen’s own employees?
    2) Are the leads auto-generated or entered by the Pitchmen’s employees?
    3) How can the Pitchmen PROVE TO YOU that their claim is real?

    If they can’t prove it, then you can’t verify it. If you can’t verify it, why should you believe it? Because they said so? Because they “sound sincere”?

    Why does the Pitchmen’s website look almost exactly like others?

    Have a look at all of these websites. Funny how they all look the same. Is that because the same person is behind them?


    Where are all the testimonials?

    With the “millions” of network users and all the clients SDM has, where are all the testimonials?

    Where’s all the “Hot News” on the webpage?

    10 – 20 million networks users and yet media stories about the MSG Tool itself are practically non-existent. And the real kicker: The top link reads like this:

    “Microsoft add BizForm Bar to IE Add-On site - Microsoft has added BizForm Bar to it's IE Add-Ons website (http://www.IEAddOns.com/) for Internet Explorer 7”

    Microsoft did no such thing. ANYONE can add their product to the Windows Marketplace. If you don’t know how the Marketplace works, you might believe that Microsoft has somehow endorsed their product with this headline.

    Are there any actual “Partners & Clients”?

    That webpage says, “These are a few of the companies who are branding themselves through exclusive keywords”. Notice it does NOT say, “These are a few of the companies who are branding themselves through exclusive keywords. . .THROUGH US”.

    Is it possible that this might be designed to trick people into believing that these top companies are somehow clients or partners with the Pitchmen?

    Why do all the above listed companies have “F” ratings from the Better Business Bureau?

    1) Go to www.bbbsouthland.org
    2) Click on “Company Reports”
    3) Look up all these names: One Top Firm, Simply Voice, GoDotLess, Client Placement Services, Portal Response Technology (well, as of 9/26/07, they’re at “B”. Just wait.)

    The Press Release contains an unwelcome surprise

    Several names are mentioned in the press release about the MSG Tool. One of them is Charles Lloyd, President of IP Marketing, which “Jointly developed the MSG Tool”.

    An informed consumer would search, and find, this information on Charles Lloyd from the website of the Federal Trade Commission. Looks like Mr. Lloyd had a little problem with them:


    Does SDM or any of these companies actually have any satisfied clients?

    This blogger has now spoken to seven clients, with more waiting in the wings. Here’s how much they spent, and here’s how many sales they got (nobody got a refund, either):

    Client #1: $100,000 – ZERO SALES
    Client #2: $ 60,000 - ZERO SALES
    Client #3: $ 38,000 - ZERO SALES
    Client #4: $ 25,000 - ZERO SALES
    Client #5: $ 5,000 - ZERO SALES
    Client #6: $ 4,000 - ZERO SALES
    Client #7: $ 3,000 - ZERO SALES

    So why don’t people sue?

    1) Time and expense
    2) Amount lost is usually under $5000, and not worth the hassle
    3) They are intimidated by the concept of a lawsuit
    4) They are ashamed to admit that they may have been scammed.

    Links - lots of people talk about their experiences:





  2. #2

    Re: Search Direct Media Scam

    Thank you for this blog. At least I feel like I'm not the only one who has fallen for this scam. I signed a contract with Searchdirectmedia.com. I should have know better, but the salesperson was very persuasive, telling me that the leads from them would be different, that they were qualified leads, checked out in advance by them, no false phone #'s or email addresses because they checked them out first. He bald face lied about it. What I would like to know is if anyone has sued them and won or if anyone knows how to go about finding out if I can sue them or is it just a lost cause?I received a mutual release contract from them which sounds like if I sign it I am letting them off the hook for any liability for their salespersons misrepresentations. Charles Lloyd is the person behind this company according to the department that takes care of your keywords. I think they are good people. It's Searchdirectmedia and it's parent LLC that is the scammer. Does anyone have any advice? Thanks

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Search Direct Media Scam

    Don't feel bad. The sales pitch is very persuasive and the reason they have been around so long is because most people don't understand enough about the internet to know why their services almost always result in unsatisfied clients.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Search Direct Media Scam

    Hey Search Direct Media Scumbags:

    You think you can intimidate people and bully them into not writing the truth about you? I got news for you. The best defense against a maliciouis libel claim is called the truth, which is pretty easy to show, when we parade the 3 dozen clients we have up to the stand to show the truth about your service.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Search Direct Media Scam

    Turns out that Search Direct Media is run by Charles Lloyd, who has already had a stipulated judgment against him by the FTC. He's also working again with Richard Harty, who helped run the same type of operation at the "F" rated One Top Firm in California.

    These guys are now running the operation out of Vegas, and doing so without a business license.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Search Direct Media Scam

    Search Direct Media Victims;
    You should file a complaint with the NV Consumer Affairs Division


    As well as the Las Vegas BBB:


    As well as report them to the city business license office, since they are operating without a license as of today:

    Tel (702) 229-6281

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014

    Re: Search Direct Media Scam

    How are people able to do this? Are there no repercussions for being a scammer?

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