Tag Archives: legal

Pearce v Rairdin

This is the seventh in what has turned out to be a series of articles. Here is the sixth, and here is the eighth.

Helen has been telling people not to pay attention to what they read on this website because I am “currently being investigated for cyberstalking/cyberbullying and court proceedings are being taken against” me. This statement is false. I am not the subject of any investigation. Helen filed a report with the Osceola County Sheriff’s office, which called Helen’s claims “unfounded”. Helen filed for protective orders against me and Doug, one of the commenters here. She won an injunction against Doug, but it only stops him from being within 500′ of her house. It doesn’t stop anything we’re doing on this website, and doesn’t have anything to do with the truth of what is posted here.

This afternoon I was served notice of a hearing on a petition for injunction for protection against stalking. The petitioner is Helen Pearce.

This hearing took place on April 14, 2015. Results are below.

Cyberstalking

First, let’s dispense with the obvious: The State of Florida defines cyberstalking as engaging “in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.”

I can’t control the emotional effect that anything I post on the internet will have on someone. But I can tell you what the legitimate purpose of these posts about Helen Pearce is: To inform the public about the actions of a person known to the State of Florida to be committing felonies that deprive her victims of money, homes, and peace of mind; to support the efforts of victims of said felon to bring her to justice; and to serve as a point of communication between interested and victimized parties to her crimes.

So I’m not “cyberstalking”.

Helen Confesses to Committing Felonies

Here’s a link to the pertinent section of Helen’s complaint: 2014-02-24 Pearce-v-Rairdin Complaint

In this complaint, Helen claims that she and I “first became acquainted with each other a year ago”. She says that she inquired about a home we had for sale, but did not make an offer.

Now, about a year ago I was contacted by one JJ Pierce of Flat Stone Capital LLC, not Helen Pearce. However, I’m willing to stipulate Helen’s assertion that she is, in fact, JJ Pierce who contacted me on behalf of Flat Stone Capital LLC.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider the implications of that statement: Helen is admitting in a sworn statement, under penalty of perjury, that she used the alias “JJ Pierce” to contact me on behalf of a company that she fraudulently established for the purpose of escaping detection and committing fraud. She did this just three years after having been arrested for doing the same thing. (She was arrested on fraud charges in 2011 for crimes committed in 2006.)

The night before I was served, Doug was served a similar notice. In the complaint he received, Helen states that her company site is FSCEHomes.com. The people we’re working with whose homes were listed on FSCEHomes.com have contracts with Ferin Caffrey, not Helen Pearce. Ferin Caffrey registered the company FSC Endeavors LLC with the State of Florida using a UPS Store as both its principal address and registered office. So by virtue of her sworn statement in the petition for an injunction against Doug, Helen confesses under penalty of perjury to being the fictitious person Ferin Caffrey, who registered FSC Endeavors LLC using false information, which is a third-class felony in Florida.

The website for FSC Endeavors LLC was registered using Matt’s name. Helen’s sworn statement thus implicates Matt in her felonies.

False and Confusing (But Still False) Statements

She goes on to cite “the incident that caused [her] to report it to the Sheriff Department”. She includes a screen shot of this “incident”. It appears someone posted a link to a video on some TV station website. That wasn’t me. Furthermore, it would be very easy to fake something like that. For example, [this is Helen and I just deleted Craig’s example of faking the identity of someone in a post on the Web]. See? Easy.

Helen introduces someone named “Doug” into a complaint presumably about me. Obviously, I know to which “Doug” she is referring. But Doug’s actions don’t have anything to do with whether or not am cyberstalking her. She claims that Doug mentioned he found her Facebook page and says something about a DCF investigation. None of these claims are related to me. Anyone could have found Helen’s Facebook page (before she removed it), and if Doug, in fact, contacted DCF that was his doing and I had nothing to do with it. I report on Doug’s actions here; I don’t direct him to do things nor does he consult with me before he acts. Similarly, I report on what Helen does here; I don’t tell her what to do nor does she ask for my advice before she registers an LLC using an alias. I have never reported here that Doug contacted DCF.

Helen makes claims about what she’s seen on this blog:

  • How I track her
  • Where she frequently goes
  • Her and Matt’s names
  • Addresses
  • Pictures that are copywrited [sic]
  • Boasts of being related to different government branches
  • Encouragement for others to join in

She finds all of these to be malicious, slander, and libel and make her feel threatened, defamed, and fearful.

I have posted a description of how I tracked down information about Helen. I have never “tracked” her. I don’t know where she is or what she is doing right now and have no way of knowing that.

Similarly, I have never posted where she frequently goes.

I have posted some of her previous addresses that are part of public records in order to show connections between her multiple aliases. I have never posted her current address.

I believe the photos I have used are in the public domain, are used with permission, or are “fair use” under copyright law. I have never received an assertion of what Helen calls “copywrite” but I would’ve responded appropriately if I had. In fact, I’m removing photos from my site today to which I think she might be referring in order to avoid all question. The photos were never what the articles were about; they just added color to a bunch of text.

I have never claimed to have been employed by or “related to” different government branches.

So of these, I have explained some of how I have tracked information about her for the purpose of showing how JJ Pierce, Julie Bell, Neleha K. Dun, and all of her other aliases really are Helen Joanne Pearce. She has confirmed now that my conclusions were true. I have published Helen and Matt’s names for the purpose of warning others who might fall into their scam and to assist those who have cause to bring charges against her for fraud. I have encouraged others to help us find out more about her for the purpose of bringing her to justice. None of these things constitute “cyberstalking”. And furthermore, I have not published anything “too personal”, such as her home address, names of her children, etc. even if someone brought that information to my attention at my request.

Specifically, I do not wish harm on anyone nor do I incite others to do so. I have not written anything malicious. Similarly I haven’t threatened anyone with harm.

The words slander, libel, and defamation all kind of mean the same thing. They all require that a statement be made that is provably false. I have not made any provably false statement about Helen or Matt, and more importantly, she has not cited any examples of provably false statements that would constitute slander. She makes the claim that she has been slandered and threatened, but she doesn’t explain how.

The sum of all this is that she has no reason to be fearful. She hasn’t given any examples of maliciousness, slander, or threats. Any fear she has does not come from anything I’ve said here or elsewhere. As proof of her lack of fearfulness, she did not request protection for her children nor did she provide information about where they go to school so that I could be barred from going there. She did not request any protection for Matt. When my lawyer asked to delay my hearing to give him time to prepare a defense, the judge asked Helen if she would agree to a six-week delay, and Helen answered in the affirmative. She clearly does not feel that I am an imminent threat. She is not acting like a person who is in fear.

She did ask that I be restricted from being near an address in Oklahoma and another address in Texas that is unfamiliar to me. I have never had contact with the people at the address in Oklahoma (though I know who they are) nor with whoever is at the address in Texas.

Helen states that the majority of my home page is now dedicated to Helen (suddenly speaking of herself in the third person, suggesting someone else actually wrote her statement). This is both false and irrelevant. Helen-related content as of the date of her complaint was slightly less than half according to the word count. The reason it’s there at all is that interest in Helen from law enforcement, the media, and victims has been heating up lately, and since the Helen-related content of the blog is minimal (only about 14% of the total articles as of the date of the complaint), it can be hard to find. [Furthermore, as of the date this post was written, all Helen-related content was categorized as “Miscellaneous” on this site, further adding to the difficulty locating that information. I’ve since moved her stuff into a “Real Estate” category.]

Helen complains that an entire page on my site is dedicated to sending “them” (i.e. me) reports of information anyone can find about her. She doesn’t say which page this is, but I suspect she refers to the victim report form that was placed here at the request of Osceola County law enforcement so that more people can report to the Sheriff the details of Helen’s crimes. That information does not go to me.

She complains about my Cockroach Tracker app, which she claims “tracks all of us” (though she is the only petitioner so I don’t know who “us” is) so that I can find “more information … to share and use to twist to his harassing behavior”. As I described on the site, Cockroach Tracker examines public databases looking for patterns that will help us find her aliases and false companies, which can be difficult because she’s been committing felonies a lot longer than I’ve been researching her crimes. It doesn’t track anyone else in “us”, whoever “us” is and it doesn’t “track” as in telling me her physical location. It only tells me if she starts a new company and starts contacting other victims under a new alias.

She claims I contacted her through her “work website” on three occasions but doesn’t say what website that is. I have never posted those messages claiming to be Helen’s parents, sister, or Matthew’s parents. And as she implies here, it is very easy for someone to pretend to be someone else when posting messages through contact forms. It would be just as easy for her to pretend to be her parents, sister, or in-laws in order to frame someone else as it would be for that person to actually do it. But what I can say for sure is, that wasn’t me.

She claims I have publicly posted on craigslist about her. She cites no examples. She says I make deceitful and false claims but she does not say what those claims are or proving that they’re false. In any case, I have never posted anything about Helen, true or false, on craigslist.

I did “boast” of finding Matt’s running route. Matt posts it publicly on his public Twitter feed. He stopped posting it a little over two years ago, so what I have is a couple years old. It was interesting to find because it validated that the address we found for her — which was difficult to find since she forms her false companies under false addresses. I did not post a map of Matt’s running route. I’ve never threatened to find and harm Matt, nor have I ever suggested anyone else do likewise. In fact, I’ve suggested that people avoid him since he is a body builder and has a documented history of violence. I’m more afraid of Matt than he should be of me.

We do not have a “team that is working together to cyberstalk and cyberbully”. We do have a team that is working together to bring a known felon to justice.

She cites a particular hotmail.com email address as being mine. It is not.

She claims I “invite hate”. I do not. I do invite victims of Helen’s crimes to contact me so I can help them get involved in bringing her to justice.

She claims I have “made [her] family and [her] a target” but does not cite examples, nor does she say what I’ve made them a target for. Pies? Prayer? Injunctions?

She worries about others acting out of hate but cites no examples of my incitation to hate or malice.

The Version of Craig that Lives in Helen’s Mind is Not Me

I have never threatened Helen nor any member of her family with any harm.

I know a lot more than I have posted. I know where she lives. I know her children’s names. I know her parents names and where they live. I have a copy of a screenshot of Matt’s running route. I know Helen’s maiden name and where she went to school. I believe I could publish some of this information and it would still not be “cyberstalking” but I have never wanted to be close to that line. Posting that information isn’t relevant to my investigation.

I have never posted anything here that I did not believe was provably true. I have not posted anything that was not available from public sources. That is, I have never personally followed Helen around, hired an investigator to do the same, or snooped on her friends or family to develop information that could only be discovered by subterfuge.

I live some 1300 miles from Helen. But from January 2-10, 2015, I was vacationing with my family at Walt Disney World, just a few minutes from Helen’s home. I did not drive by her house. I didn’t try to contact her. I didn’t even stop by the UPS Store at 52 Riley Rd where she claims to have an office. If I was stalking someone, it sure seems like I would jump at the chance to look her up while I was in the neighborhood.

Summary

So it boils down to this: In her petition to the court, Helen confesses to committing multiple felonies and implicates her husband in the crimes. She does not cite any examples of anything on this site that she sees as threatening. The only accurate statements in her petition are these: (1) We first became acquainted about a year ago (when she was posing as JJ Pierce); (2) she inquired about but did not make an offer on my house; and (3) I have published her and her husband’s names.

It is true that I have “no dog in this race”. I do have an intense sense of justice, though, and it bothers me that criminals like Helen can walk around free, stealing money from innocent people, living in an upscale, gated community with a private health club, driving a nice car, and living high on the hog while the rest of us have to work hard for what we have. So I’ve donated my time and space both here on this site and at www.fsboscam.com to help those who are victims of Helen’s scam to organize and get some justice. And I’ve spent more than you want to know to defend myself against Helen’s specious claims and frivolous charge of “cyberstalking”. 

And now it looks like I’ll get to make another trip to Florida. Helen has never shown up in court for any of the other cases she has instigated, so I don’t suppose I’ll get to meet her.

Updates

March 3, 2015

I decided to send my High Priced Lawyer in my place because I can’t afford to lose the 3-5 days of work it would cost me to go to Florida and defend myself against this frivolous abuse of the legal system. He was able to get the hearing reset to April 14. The only bad thing about that is that it’s the day I normally meet with my tax accountant to get started on my tax return. Darn!

I take some solace in the fact that the judge doesn’t think delaying the hearing for six weeks will put Helen at any more risk of immediate danger, and she’s right. Since I’ve never threatened Helen or her family, nor have I even met any of them or talked to anyone in her extended family, she’s in no more danger from me today or six weeks from now than she was when she filed a false complaint with the Sheriff and perjured herself in her petition for an injunction last month.

April 14, 2015

I participated in the hearing today via telephone. My lawyer had previously filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, and the hearing for that motion was scheduled to take place before the hearing on Helen’s petition.

Helen and I were sworn in. Judge Diana Tennis asked me where I live. I said, “Marion, Iowa”. She asked how long I had lived in Iowa, and I said “All my life.” She asked if I had ever been a resident of Florida, and I said, “No”.

The judge pointed out to Helen that I had filed a motion to dismiss based on a lack of personal jurisdiction. That is, we claimed that the court did not have any authority over me, since I’m not a resident of Florida. She asked Helen if she had any legal basis for asking the court to exercise long-arm jurisdiction. Helen wasn’t represented by counsel and apparently hadn’t even read the Wikipedia article on “jurisdiction”, or she would’ve known that she couldn’t answer that question. Long-arm jurisdiction would’ve required her to show that I had some kind of minimal connection to Florida (such as a time-share, vacation home, business office, bank account, etc.), but I don’t. She could have also argued that there was some compelling interest for the state to bypass its normal relationship with other states and usurp Iowa’s authority, but there isn’t. Instead, Helen said it was pretty much like her case against Doug in February; that I had been cyberstalking and cyberbullying her online.

The judge asked my attorney if he had anything to add. He said the court had “absolutely no basis for personal jurisdiction” and furthermore had no subject matter jurisdiction in this case, explaining that I live in Iowa, that none of the alleged acts took place in Florida, and that I had been served in Iowa. He told the court that I had been in Florida recently, but that there was no allegation that I had acted on any of these matters while there. He explained that Helen had the option to charge me in Iowa, where a court would have jurisdiction.

The judge said that many professional lawyers don’t understand the difference between subject matter and personal jurisdiction. This worried me at first because I thought she was talking to my attorney. But she went on to say that, given this fact, she couldn’t expect Helen to understand it. She explained that even if the court could legally deal with the subject matter, that it did not have the power to drag someone from another state into court unless they were served while in Florida. As a result, she simply didn’t have the power to issue the injunction.

Helen asked if she could ask a question, and the judge said yes. Helen explained that the case involved her children and threats against them, just like her case against Doug Hill. She said that DCF was called and implied that I was involved in that. She asked if that made any difference.

The judge said it didn’t matter. First, the injunction was not sought on behalf of the children. In her complaint, Helen claimed that I was threatening her children. But as the judge reminded her, when given the opportunity to name her children in the petition and seek an injunction on their behalf, she chose not to. So no injunction had been sought on behalf of her children. Second, without personal jurisdiction or an argument for long-arm jurisdiction, the judge simply did not have the power to issue the injunction. She advised Helen that if she wanted to, she could file for an injunction in Iowa.

That was it. The judge thanked us for coming and the line went dead.

My lawyer called me later and said he thought we could’ve won on the merits. He said he had read the articles on the website from beginning to end and there was nothing there that constituted any kind of threat that a reasonable person would be afraid of. He had some other suggestions about how to handle this investigation going forward, and I’ll be taking his advice under consideration.

Helen could bring her case here to Iowa, but our laws are different. It’s more difficult to prove cyberstalking because the law is more specific. Florida’s law is very vague. But more importantly, jurisdiction isn’t her problem so coming to Iowa doesn’t make it easier for her. Her problem is that she doesn’t have any evidence of any wrongdoing on my part. She perceives that I’m involved in her troubles a lot more than I am.

Furthermore, a protective order doesn’t affect the free speech being exercised on this site. It only keeps me from coming near her house, which I’ve never done and never threatened to do.

I’m happy to have this behind me. Now we can focus our attention on getting information into the hands of law enforcement that will eventually get her arrested. I heard from another victim just a couple days ago. I’m convinced there is no shortage of victims; we just need to find them and get them to file reports with the appropriate agencies.

 

 

Helen Joanne Pearce Companies and Aliases

This is the fifth in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the fourth and here is the next.

I’m going to use this post to keep an up-to-date list of the company names, aliases, and addresses Helen and Matt are using.

If you have been doing business with any one of these people or businesses, they are all Helen Joanne Pearce operating under a different name. If you do a Google search for any of these, you’ll mostly find the blog articles and online comments that Helen herself has created to make it appear that her company is legit.

Just for reference, in 2014 the address on Helen’s drivers license was 52 Riley Rd #231, Kissimmee, FL, which is a UPS Store. I wouldn’t normally publish a person’s home address here, but this is not her home address.

Company Aliases Connections
KACW Investments, Inc. (2004-06)

Originally 2855 SE 50th St, Ocala, FL (single-family home)

Changed to 12472 Lake Underhill Rd #143, Orlando, FL (UPS Store) in 2005

Registered to Helen J Pearce and Matthew E Pearce

Online comments: Helen Joanne Pearce

Obvious. Court documents in 2006 mention Joanne Pearce at KACW Investments, 3854 SW 168 Circle, Ocala, FL (mobile home)
Way Home Investments, Inc. (2005-06)

Originally 967 Lilac Trace Ln, Orlando, FL (single family home; see this YouTube video)

Changed in 2006 to 1969 S. Alafaya Tr #125, Orlando, FL 32828 (UPS Store)

Registered to Matthew E Pearce and Helen Pearce Obvious.
In Faith Properties, Inc. (2007)

1969 S. Alafaya Tr #125, Orlando, FL (UPS Store)

Registered to Matthew E Pearce and Helen J Pearce Obvious. 2007 court case names “Matt and Helen (Joanne) Pearce”. Another names “Helen J. Pearce” at this same address.
Dun and King Investments (2008)

1926 N. John Young Pkwy #128, Kissimmee, FL (Convenience store? with mailboxes)

Registered to Neleha K. Dun, Tracy L. King, Morgan P. Jones, Katy B. Dery.

Online comments mention sending checks to Joanne Pearce.

“Neleha” is (a)Helen backwards. Neleha’s website biography says she has a law degree from Oklahoma City University and to have attended the University of Central Oklahoma. Helen’s Facebook profile says she went to Oklahoma University, and Matt’s says he went to Oklahoma State. Matt and Helen are both from Oklahoma. I haven’t tried hard to locate her “partners” in this company, but note she has a very close relative with the same first name and middle initial as one of them.
Jubilee Property Ventures (2009)

2224 W Columbia Ave #109, Kissimmee, FL (FedEx/Western Union)

Registered to Jules Scott and Novak Leeann (suspect it shoud be Leeann Novak)

Online comments: Joanne Helen Pearce

2009 court case names Jules Scott and Joanne Helen Pearce.
Mary Jones Projects LLC (2010-11)

14900 E Orange Lake Blvd #348, Kissimmee FL (PakMail store)

Registered to Mary Jones and Julie Bell

Online comments: Helen Joanne Pearce whose husband is Matthew

Website FAQ as quoted in online comments is virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital; uses same awkward grammar to describe Mary Jones’ qualifications as Flat Stone Capital uses to describe JJ Pierce.
JEP Genesis LLC (2010-11)52 Riley Rd #231, Kissimmee, FL (UPS Store) Owners are Joanne and Eric Pearce

Online comments: Joanne Pearce says Eric is an “investor”

Same address as on Helen’s Florida driver’s license. 2009 court case names Joanne Pearce at this address.
Redfield Holdings LLC (2012-14)

3050 Dyer Blvd #185, Kissimmee, FL (UPS Store)

8/1/12

Owner JJ Pearce Website at the time was virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC website. FSC Endeavors LLC website registered to Eric Pearce using redfieldholdings@ in email address. Helen Pearce admitted in sworn documents to Osceola County Court that she is Ferin Caffrey (owner of FSC Endeavors LLC).
Flat Stone Capital LLC (2013-14)

52 Riley Rd #172, Kissimmee, FL (UPS Store)

12/20/13

Owner JJ Pierce Helen Pearce admitted in a sworn statement to the Osceola County Court that she is JJ Pierce of Flat Stone Capital LLC.
FS Capital LLC (2014)

14900 E Orange Lake Blvd, Kissimmee, FL (PakMail store)

2/14/14

Owner Faith Stuart Website at the time was virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC website.
RF Holdings, FL Corp (2014-15)

503 E Jackson St, Tampa, FL 33602 (UPS Store)

4/18/14

Owner Rose Hill Victims on Zillow describe similar experiences.
RFH, FL, Inc. (2014-15)701 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL (UPS Store)

8/11/14

Owner Reagan Fields Reagan Fields tells victims she has taken owners of this website to court; can only be Helen Joanne Pearce.

Phone (813) 423-1876

FSC Endeavors LLC (2014-15)

221 N Hogan St, Jacksonville, FL (UPS Store)

9/28/14

Owner Ferin Caffrey

Website domain name registered to Eric Pearce with redfieldholdings@ in email address.

Victims mention Ferin Carrey and Erin Cafferty

Helen Pearce admitted in a sworn statement to the Osceola County Court that she is Ferin Caffrey of FSC Endeavors LLC and FSCE Homes. Website FAQ, contracts virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC.
River Financial Horizons LLC (registered as River F Horizons LLC) (2014-15)

369 Lexington Ave, New York, NY

Karen River Website FAQ, contracts virtually identical to Flat Stone Capital LLC
FSCE Homes (2015)

Not a registered LLC in Florida

Ferin Caffrey, Ferin Carrey, Erin Cafferty Helen Pearce admitted in a sworn statement to the Osceola County Court that she is Ferin Caffrey.
Tabitha’s House and Pack Fund (2015)

Not registered in Florida

Helen Peace, Matt Pear, Matt Peace Helen and Matt changed their names on Facebook, but they are the same Facebook accounts as before. Operating a GoFundMe project and a Facebook page Luke 6:30, ostensibly to raise funds for a homeless shelter and to hand out necessities to the homeless in Orlando. Location of “homeless” photos.
At this point, Helen began advertising website design and search engine optimization (SEO) services along with real estate investing. I’m not making any claims about her website design and SEO services; they may be entirely legit. My only comment as a person who has done Internet marketing for twenty years is that generally, anyone who tells you they can get your legitimate company listed on the first page of Google using organic means (i.e. not paid placement) is pulling your leg.
Ezra FL LLC (7/1/2015)

7862 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34747 (UPS Store)

Jo Ezra, Mary Jo Ezra, Eric Pearce Same rent-to-own scam as before. Also operating a website design and SEO company called Ezra Agency using the same Jo Ezra alias. Videos produced by Ezra Agency feature Helen: Jo Ezra Intro, SEO Alachua FL, Liposuction Altamonte Springs, Interior Design Alachua FL. Website: www.ezrainc.com Phone: 407-288-7782.
Amazon Invest Inc (11/3/2015)

13790 Bridgewater Crossing Blvd., Windermere, FL 34786

There is a shared office and meeting space at this address that offers mailboxes. I have confirmed she does not have a relationship with that company.

Not incorporated in Florida

Jennifer Henderson Same rent-to-own scam and website design company as before. Clients pictured on home page at www.amazoninvestinc.com are stock images. Phone: (321) 402-7732.
Pruaz Properties, Inc (12/14/2015)

​​101 S Main St, Wichita KS 67202 or 110 S Main St.

101 S Main St is an invalid address according to USPS. It appears on her website and, along with 110 S Main St, in the Kansas Secretary of State’s corporation database. 110 S Main is an office building.

Pruaz Properties was incorporated in Kansas on 11/5/2015.

Amanda Gibson Same rent-to-own scam as before. www.pruazproperties.com is registered at GoDaddy using Domains by Proxy. Phone: (316) 200-1629 is a cellular phone.
Home Run Capital, LLC (1/26/16)

​​201 S. College Street, Charlotte, NC 28211

Address is an office building with suites available to lease.

Amy Davis, Annie Pearce Same rent-to-own scam as before. homeruncapllc.com is registered at GoDaddy using Domains by Proxy. Phone: (980) 226-0955 is a cellular phone.

Not registered in Florida or North Carolina. North Carolina requires foreign companies (companies from out of state) to register to do business in the state. It does not appear that Home Run Capital is registered to do business in NC.

Testimonials claim they’ve been in business since at least April 2015, but the domain was not registered until November 15, 2015.

Helen Chooses the Wrong Guy to Scam

This is the fourth in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the third, and here is the next.

I am updating this article as the subject matter develops. Updates are at the bottom of this article!

It’s been about a year since I first reported on a phone call I received from “JJ Pierce” from Flat Stone Capital. Since then, I’ve received comments and emails from a couple dozen people who have been taken in or nearly taken in by her scam.

If you don’t know how the scam works, I’ve written more about it here. In the last year we’ve learned that “JJ” is Helen Joanne Pearce of Kissimmee, FL.

A couple weeks ago I heard from yet another victim of one of Helen’s scams, who introduced himself as “Doug” in the comments here on my blog. I’ve heard from a lot of victims and they all discover the same thing: You can’t find Helen to serve any papers to her. The best you’re going to do is get a small claims judgment, which will never be enforced. You’ll just be out more money and you’ll have no satisfaction.

That didn’t sit well with Doug.

Doug is a retired criminal investigator who has worked for various branches of government. He has taken the information I’ve posted here and developed a more detailed picture of Helen’s activities and associates.

Helen is currently operating two companies: FSC Endeavors LLC, where she is known as Ferin Caffrey, and RFH FL, Inc., where she goes by Reagan Fields. FSC Endeavors LLC claims to be in Jacksonville, FL, but they don’t publish an address at their website. The Florida Department of State lists the address of FSC Endeavors LLC as 221 N Hogan St, which is a UPS Store. Their website domain name is registered to Eric Pearce (Helen’s husband), who lists the address of another UPS Store as his address. Eric’s email address is listed as “redfieldholdings@…” in his whois record. Redfield Holdings is one of the companies I’ve mentioned before. The State of Florida lists Redfield Holdings LLC as being owned by JJ Pearce at an address that is a UPS Store.

RFH FL, Inc. is said to be located in Tampa. The State of Florida has their address as 701 S Howard Ave, which is a UPS Store. They got smart and registered their domain name using GoDaddy’s “Domains By Proxy” service, which hides the owner. But the website itself shares a lot of content with Helen’s past sites.

Doug is out several thousand dollars in promised payments from Helen (aka Ferin Caffrey). While many people have sued (unsuccessfully) to get their money, Doug is taking a different approach. Helen is committing fraud, so Doug is going for the criminal charges, not unenforceable small claims actions.

Doug started by filing a report with his local police for theft by fraud. This establishes a number of facts and is the beginning of a paper trail that will be important to finding Matt and Helen and getting a conviction.

Doug has contacted a number of government and law enforcement agencies to make them aware of Helen’s activities. He has also contacted various companies that Helen uses in her scam. I believe his goal is to make it more difficult for Helen to scam others in the same way.

Doug has been collecting documentation from court cases in Florida, Texas, and anywhere else that these lead. This will be useful in convincing investigators for various government agencies and private companies that this scam is for real. I have contacted everyone who posted comments here on my blog to get their permission to provide contact information to Doug so he can collect any details they can add.

Update: February 2, 2015

It’s been a busy week for Doug. He and I have exchanged a lot of email and spoken on the phone a couple times. Doug has a lot of experience chasing people like Helen and Matt. Like cockroaches, when the lights come on, they will scatter. They will either run to family and friends to hide or they will double down and try to raise more money from their scams.

So Doug’s first step has been to poison Matt and Helen’s hiding places. Doug has contacted Matt and Helen’s families and has told them everything that is going on. He doesn’t want the family to inadvertently aid and abet Helen if she is looking for a place to hide from authorities. Instead, he wants family and friends to be encouraging Helen to turn herself in. In order for that to happen, they had to know what was going on, even if it was painful.

In order to help us find any new companies and aliases Helen might create in the future, I’ve written a program I call Cockroach Tracker that monitors certain publicly available data and alerts me of suspicious activity.

Update: February 4, 2015

Last night I was contacted by an anonymous victim of Helen’s scam who pointed me to www.fscehomes.com. When I went to the website I found that Helen had listed homes she had for rent/sale in five or six cities around the US, including Berea, KY and Peoria, AZ. I notified Doug and simultaneously replied to the victim to get more information.

Doug began calling the homeowners who were listed at the site. He talked to the first homeowner (who was very disappointed to hear the truth about Helen, whom she knows as “Ferin”), and within minutes we noticed that the website had been updated to remove the list of addresses. Not, however, before we captured all of them. Doug is working his way down this list this morning.

The anonymous victim said that “Ferin” wanted him to pay by PayPal. This might sound like a good idea to Helen but PayPal can be nasty when you involve them in fraud. They can lock down your account so you can’t get any money. And if you’ve connected PayPal to your bank account, they can reach into your account and take back anything they think you may have received fraudulently without so much as a how-do-you-do. We noticed after Doug started calling victims that the PayPal link was gone, too.

Update: February 5, 2015

As Doug contacts Helen’s victims he finds that not everyone believes they’ve been had. They may have had their lawyer look at the contract, and he told them it was solid. What their lawyer didn’t know was that the person signing (in this case, Ferin Caffrey) does not exist. “Ferin Caffrey” is a made-up name used by Helen Joanne Pearce. Do a people-search on a site like intelius.com or peoplesmart.com: There is no person in the United States of America named “Ferin Caffrey”.

Was your down-payment late? Have you had late rent payments, or no rent payments? Did someone move into your home before you knew they were coming? Are you getting paid in Western Union money orders printed at Publix supermarkets? Is “Ferin” hard to get ahold of, or has she said it’s better to contact her by email? Is the company she claims to be with registered with the Florida Department of State using an address that Google says is a UPS Store?

If your answer to most of these questions is “yes”, you’re a victim of Helen’s scam. Your contract is probably invalid and you have squatters in your home. They’re victims, too. If you need someone to talk to about this, contact me through the comments. Comments are moderated so they won’t be posted to the site if you ask me not to.

Update: February 13, 2015

A lot has been happening in the last two weeks. We have finally found a home address for Matt and Helen that wasn’t a UPS Store. Doug now has a sequence of addresses for Helen over time that lead from her home in Chickasha, OK to her present address in central Florida. Our researcher Tristan discovered Matt’s Twitter feed, where we found uploads of his jogging route from a couple years ago, which often begins and ends right at the front door of their house. The same feed has a picture of Matt standing in front of the house, which matches the appearance of the house on Google Street View. Doug has talked to people who know Helen, and who confirm that Matt and Helen do live at that address.

In the process of all this we’ve uncovered some serious flaws in the way the Florida Department of State validates the identity and addresses of registered agents of new LLCs and corporations. That is, they don’t validate them. You can literally form a corporation in Florida using a completely made-up name and address, and they will take your registration fee and issue a Certificate of Existence. Instant validity. It’s like they’re in the business of printing fake ID’s. In the process, they become, in my opinion, accessories to any felonies committed by those corporations, especially when establishing credibility and trust is an important part of their crimes. We’ve found both sympathetic ears and obstinate denial in the Division of Corporations. We’re hoping that shining a light on these flaws will get them repaired and reduce the ease with which this kind of scam can be operated in Florida.

I believe Helen is operating a new company out of New York: River Financial Horizons, which is registered as River F Horizons LLC, 369 Lexington Ave, NY, NY. Her new name there is Karen River. Needless to say, there is no known human being in the country with the name “Karen River”. Rivers? Yes. Rivera? Yes. River? No.

Doug has been contacted by local media in Orlando. We may see something about Helen on TV in the future.

Update: February 23, 2015

Helen has stepped in it now. She’s filed for some kind of injunction against Doug on the basis of “cyber-stalking” and “slander”. Of course the judge found no basis for any kind of injunction in the complaint, so she’s set a hearing, which Helen will not show up for, and will thus lose.

The important thing in all this has nothing to do with Helen’s charges and the upcoming hearing. It has everything to do with Helen’s sworn statement in filing this document. In it, she claims that FSCEHomes.com is her website. She further explains that Doug is undermining her business by convincing certain others to break their contracts with her.

But FSCEHomes.com is Ferin Caffrey’s website. The people cited in Helen’s complaint have have contracts with Ferin Caffrey, not Helen Pearce. Helen has thus confessed to the court that she is operating under the alias of Ferin Caffrey. Furthermore, the non-existent person Ferin Caffrey registered the company FSC Endeavors LLC with the State of Florida using a UPS Store as both its principal address and registered office. Helen has confessed to the court that she illegally registered an LLC in Florida using both a false name and an improper address. Matt’s name was on the domain registration for FSC Endeavors LLC until he put it under Go Daddy’s Domains by Proxy protection to hide it. Thus Matt and Helen are both implicated in this felonious activity.

Update: July 14, 2015

The Better Business Bureau changed FSC Endeavors’ rating to F and issued a fraud alert. You can read the page here. If you click on the customer reviews you’ll see a fake one written by Helen where she calls herself “Joan H” and my actual review, which has been heavily redacted by the BBB to remove personal names. It gets the point across, though.

We have been fairly quiet here online lately but don’t take that to mean that nothing is happening. Cockroach Tracker™ continues to run quietly in the background. We have had significant contacts with more victims and with people who know Helen personally. So far nobody has come forward in her defense. 🙂

 

Excluding Myself From the Vibram Settlement

Photo May 26, 2 58 13 PMEarlier this month, Vibram — makers of FiveFingers “toe shoes” — announced a settlement in a lawsuit in which they were accused of misleading their customers about the virtues of their FiveFingers shoes for runners. The claimants were apparently injured during transition to running in the shoes, and argued that Vibram made false claims about the efficacy of their shoes.

I’ve been running in FiveFingers shoes for several years, including at least two half marathons. Based on information on the Vibram website and everything I read about transitioning to barefoot or minimalist running, I made a gradual and purposeful transition, starting with intervals of about a tenth of a mile alternating with walking over a total distance of about a mile. I alternated running with traditional running shoes and FiveFingers. It was a gradual and frustrating process.

Not only did I not get injured, but the very reason I made the switch was that running in traditional shoes had resulted in a knee injury that necessitated arthroscopic surgery to my right knee. My reaction to that injury was not to sue Adidas or Nike, but rather to fix my problem and find a solution.

These days I run 20+ miles per week in my Vibram Bikila EVO’s, which are my fourth pair. I run a combination of trails and sidewalks. I’ve run in several organized races so far this year, including a 5K (3 miles), an 8.5 mile time-prediction race, and a 13.1 mile half marathon. I’ll do a 10K (6 miles) on the Fourth of July and another half marathon on Labor Day weekend.

I could very easily request my $90 settlement from Vibram, but I refuse to be a party to the actions of these idiots and their shyster lawyers. Below is my letter to Vibram’s lawyers, opting out of the class.

June 6, 2014

Vibram FiveFingers Class Action Settlement Administrator
PO Box 449
Philadelphia, PA 19105-0449

RE: Valerie Bezdek v. Vibram USA Inc., et al., Case Number 1:12-cv-10513-DPW (D. Mass.) Exclusion Request

Dear Sir or Madam:

I believe the claimants in this case are both ignorant and deceptive. Ignorant in that they didn’t read or couldn’t understand the massive amount of information available to runners transitioning to minimalist running, including the extensive information on the Vibram website itself, and deceptive in that they have mischaracterized how this product has been represented by Vibram.

I believe this suit to be little more than a way for a small number of amoral lawyers to collect nearly a million dollars while setting aside only $2500 for each of their clients. The claim is false; the claimants are lying; and their lawyers are some of the worst excuses for human beings to ever walk the planet.

On principle, then, I must request to be excluded from the Class – not as a way to preserve my right to sue, but as a way to object in the strongest possible terms to the very idea that anything the claimants have said has any merit.

I do not save receipts for products I have no intention of ever returning, so I cannot file an objection to the settlement, which was my first inclination. Suffice to say I believe it is very gracious of Vibram to agree to this settlement given that the claims are so fallacious.

I am the proud owner of four pairs of FiveFingers Bikila running shoes for which I am requesting exclusion. I followed the instructions on the website and in all the literature related to transitioning to minimalist running, and had none of the experiences described by the claimants and their lawyers, who are woefully stupid and disgustingly disingenuous.

Sincerely,

Craig Rairdin

More Fun with JJ (Helen Pearce)

shutterstock_1166585This is the third in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the second, and here is the next.

A reader commented yesterday that she had been contacted by “Faith Stuart” of FS Capital LLC who wanted to buy her home. After connecting the dots, we concluded this is none other than our friend JJ (Helen Joanne Pearce). Taking a look at her site at www.fscapitalllc.com, I noticed a slide show of recently sold homes. Of course I know these are fake, but how to prove it?

A little Googling led me to www.tineye.com, which allows you to upload an image to see where it is on the web. I grabbed one of the photos from the FS Capital site and entered into the search engine. What do you know? It was found instantly on www.shutterstock.com, a stock image download site. I purchased a copy to use in this blog post. So like JJ, I, too, have sold this home now!

So just for fun, here are the images from FS Capital:

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.09.48 AM Here it is on freepik.com: http://www.freepik.com/free-photo/stone-door-green_379.htm
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.00 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=1351789
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.07 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=1224489
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.12 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=1224492
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.19 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=4143652
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.23 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=7121944
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.28 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=1166585
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.32 AM Everybody seems to own or manage this property:actionhomesolutions.comwww.janstevensrealtor.comwww.southfloridarentalmanagement.com

www.advancemortgagecorporation.com

www.managedbybutler.com

There are more.

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.36 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=5299312
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.41 AM Here it is on shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?src=PS5DwrRy6S3EBRIUs8iKRA-1-1&id=1599575
Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 9.10.44 AM I found this one at colourbox.com: http://images.colourbox.com/thumb_COLOURBOX1668696.jpg

Meet JJ Pierce, Real Estate Magnate

Helen-Pearce_mugshot.400x800This is the second in what turned into a series of articles. Here is the first and here is the next

Is this the face behind the phone call?

A Facebook friend forwarded a link to a Facebook profile for Helen Pearce that has a number of suspicious similarities to our friend JJ Pierce of Flat Stone Capital. According to her profile, she’s married to Matt Pearce and they live in Celebration, FL.

I think this is JJ. I’m going to see if I can stitch it together here. As I’ve said before, there’s always a chance that I’ve stumbled on the wrong person. But there are a lot of reasons to believe this is the one.

In Faith Properties and Husband Matt

Online complaints about rent-to-buy scams mention In Faith Properties as one of the companies involved in these deals. Marion County Florida small claims court case 07-569-SC names “Matt and Helen (Joanne) Pearce DBA In Faith Properties, Inc.” as defendants. The plaintiff won her house in Silver Springs, FL back from the Pearce’s on Feb 21, 2007. The final judgement is below.
Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 9.50.03 PM

Redfield Holdings and JJ Pearce

We showed in the previous post that Redfield Holdings is owned by “JJ Pearce”. Flat Stone Capital is owned by “JJ Pierce”. Flat Stone Capital’s mailing address is 52 Riley Rd #172, Kissimmee, FL. Osceola County Florida court documents put “Joanne Pearce” at the same address. The Florida DMV lists Helen Joanne Pearce at the same address, but box 231 (same address as Jep Genesis LLC, one of Matt and Helen’s real estate investment companies).

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 10.02.35 PM
I think it’s safe to say that “JJ Pierce” is the same person as “Joanne Pearce”, who is the same person as “JJ Pearce”.

Connection to Oklahoma

According to their Facebook profiles, Helen and Matt Pearce are both from Chickasha, OK. In this discussion, “Neleha Dun” (remember, “Neleha” is “(a)Helen” backwards) is said to have a law degree from Oklahoma City University and to have attended the University of Central Oklahoma. Helen’s Facebook profile says she went to Oklahoma University, and Matt’s says he went to Oklahoma State.

Helen’s parents still live in Chickasha and she is friends with them on Facebook.

Connection to University of Central Florida

According to Flat Stone Capital’s website, JJ Pierce graduated from “the University of Central Florida, respectively (sic).” Matt’s Facebook profile says he studied at the University of Central Florida.

Matt and Helen’s Fitness Site

Matt and Helen operate a fitness website at www.pearcefitness.com. It features a form to submit prayer requests and another to request a free Bible. Redfield Holding’s website has a similar form for prayer requests and another similar form for a free Bible. It’s great that these websites present opportunities for visitors to share their prayer requests and ask for a free Bible for themselves or a friend, but you have to admit it’s quite unusual for a business site (other than a Bible-related business) to offer such options. The fact that these two unrelated sites feature the same unusual features and are operated by people with the same last name suggests that the people are one and the same.

AOL and Juno Accounts

Several of Helen’s real estate businesses have AOL addresses, and my comments on that are what set JJ off. I commented in my previous post that JJ “must really admire people with Juno accounts” (because Juno has an even worse reputation than AOL when it comes to the sophistication of its users). Ironically, Helen has a Juno account that she hasn’t yet shared with me. I find that hilarious. (I’m sure you luv Matt, too, Helen.)

Personal Details

  • The fact that there really is a Helen Pearce in the city where JJ Pearce, JJ Pierce, Joanne Pearce, and Helen Joanne Pearce all operate suggests they are the same person.
  • The fact that Matt and Helen (Joanne) Pearce are connected to a property investment firm (In Faith Properties) that apparently does the same thing Flat Stone Capital does (rents homes that they have to be sued to vacate) suggests that Helen Pearce is JJ Pierce.
  • The fact that neither Matt nor Helen appear to have full-time employment outside the home according to their Facebook profiles suggests that they would have the time to run a business like Flat Stone Capital.
  • Matt’s middle name is Eric. There are mentions in the online discussions of “Joanne” (middle name) mentioning “Eric” (middle name), as an investor.
  • Matt and Helen identify overtly as Christians, just as JJ Pearce does on the Redfield Holdings site, and JJ Pierce did in her emails to me.

Why Am I Doing This?

I personally don’t care if Helen takes advantage of desperate people who are hungry for any offer to sell their house. But as a nice lady at church once told me (that’s a story for another day), “you’ve poked the bear”. I never would’ve bothered to figure all this out if “JJ” hadn’t called me a “fool” then threatened to sue me for “slander”. I think it’s important for people to know who they’re dealing with when they get that anonymous phone call and surprising offer by email. Not everyone has that little red flag that goes up and warns them not to accept. I am that red flag.

Helen’s Champion

Matt is Helen’s fitness-obsessed, day-trading, Hummer-driving husband. From the pictures I’ve seen of him, he doesn’t look like someone you’d want to mess with. Especially if you’ve read his rap sheet, which in addition to issuing fraudulent checks includes child abuse, assault, and felony battery. In particular, I don’t recommend anyone outing his wife for her questionable real estate activities. Oh, wait….


Update: Feb 21, 2014
Helen is an actress according to her IMDB profile. Tip o’ the hat to David in our Canadian research office for this one.
Helen is an author according to this single-entry blog. Tristan turned this one up from our Texas branch.

Update: Feb 26, 2014
Flat Stone Capital is on LinkedIn, but just changed their name from “Flat Stone Capital LLC” to “FS Capital LLC”.

Update: Jan 29, 2015
Helen is now going by “Ferin Caffrey” and “Reagan Fields”.

Update: Feb 23, 2015
Helen accidentally confesses to multiple felonies: Intentionally providing false information to the Florida Department of State while registering one of her LLCs, and entering into contracts under a false identity.

Flat Stone Capital LLC Calls Craig a “Fool” For Dissing Their Offer

IMG_2504This is the first article in what turned into a series. Here is the next article. Each article will take you to the next.

We have a home for sale. On February 10, 2014 I received a call with the caller ID blocked. The caller identified herself as “JJ” and said she was interested in our house. She asked if it needed any repairs. I said, “None that I’m aware of.” She asked for my email address so she could send me an offer. She said she’d get back to me in 2-3 days.

Let’s pause a minute: Caller with blocked caller ID wants to buy a $400,000 house solely based on the fact that the seller claims it doesn’t need any repairs. She’s ready to make any offer.

Are you thinking “scam”, maybe?

A couple days later I get this email:

From: <flatstonecap@aol.com>
Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014 6:39 AM
To: Craig Rairdin <craig@craigr.com>
Subject: Your Property For Sale (2/10)
Dear Craig,
My name is JJ.  I spoke to you on Monday (2/10) about your property for sale.  I’m e-mailing you to inform we’ve researched the property and will be putting an offer in later today.  We’re currently putting the offer together and you should receive it this afternoon or evening.
Thank You,
JJ Pierce
Flat Stone Capital LLC.

Seems legit.

I googled “Flat Stone Capital LLC” and found www.flatstonecapital.com. They purchase properties with a rent-to-own contract. During the period of the contract they will attempt to sell the property. In the meantime they sublet it.

So I would own a house that is being purchased on contract by a company in Florida and is being occupied by a tenant I’ve never met. At the end of the contract period they either buy me out or I get the house back. If I get the house back, I could be in a situation where I have to evict a tenant from my own home. In either case (whether they move out or not) I could have thousands of dollars worth of repairs to do before I could market my house again.

Will this happen? Can’t say. Could this happen? Sure. That’s one of the risks of this kind of arrangement.

Pros? Money in my pocket today plus monthly income… Cons? Renters I’ve never met could move in and trash my house.

A quick check of the Florida Department of State website showed that Flat Stone Capital was a real company with an owner named JJ Pierce. After reading the FAQs on their website, I concluded this probably was a legitimate business. But I also concluded this deal wasn’t for me.

The FAQs implied that they get a lot of negative reaction from people who think they are a scam. So in the interest of being a Fine Human Being, a Model for the Youth of America, and an All-Around Nice Guy, I replied to JJ’s email:

From: Craig Rairdin <craig@craigr.com>
Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014 7:46 AM
To: <flatstonecap@aol.com>
Subject: RE: Your Property For Sale (2/10)
JJ,
Let me save you some time: I’ve read your FAQ and I’m not interested in an offer with your terms.
I see from the FAQ that you must get very negative reactions from people who think you’re some kind of a scam. If you don’t mind some advice, let me suggest three reasons they might come to that conclusion:
1) You block your caller ID. I see from the FAQ why you do that, but it’s VERY suspicious to those of us on the other end. How about calling from a number that is answered by a machine that explains that you’re from Flat Stone Capital, that you’re a real estate investment company, and that you’ll be contacting the seller by email if you are interested in the home? That way you don’t have to deal with harrassment and you get past the no-caller-id issue.
2) You don’t view the house and don’t ask the right questions about the house. You obviously have someone in my area of the country taking care of your properties; why not have that person visit target properties and ask some better questions? In our case you only asked about needed repairs, which is a weird question in our price range. You went right from there to telling me you were going to make an offer. A buyer who is willing to buy a home sight-unseen on the basis that the seller told her there were no repairs needed raises suspicion.
3) You have an AOL email address. ‘Nuff said.
Thanks for the call and the potential offer. It was an interesting experience and will do much to prep me for the REAL scams that are sure to come. 🙂
Craig

Here’s JJ’s response. Bold text is copied (or closely paraphrased) from the FAQ I told her I already read. The point of my email had been to address the issues in the FAQ answers that she’s quoting back to me:

From: <flatstonecap@aol.com>
Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:01 AM
To: Craig Rairdin <craig@craigr.com>
Subject: Re: Your Property For Sale (2/10) (RJ)
In a message dated 2/13/2014 8:46:18 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, craig@craigr.com writes:

1) You block your caller ID. I see from the FAQ why you do that, but it's VERY suspicious to those of us on the other end. How about calling from a number that is answered by a machine that explains that you're from Flat Stone Capital, that you're a real estate investment company, and that you'll be contacting the seller by email if you are interested in the home? That way you don't have to deal with harrassment and you get past the no-caller-id issue.
We’ve come to find that when we’re calling people that have a home for sale with an unblocked number, we then will start getting unsolicited calls to come see the property, they’re having an open house, they’re offering special terms, please buy our house, etc. Which is fine even though we’re not interested in the property, but quite a few bad apples which turned harassing when we told them “No Thanks” has led us to block the number. As you can see, since we have an interest in your property all forms of communication from us have been provided.

2) You don't view the house and don't ask the right questions about the house. You obviously have someone in my area of the country taking care of your properties; why not have that person visit target properties and ask some better questions? In our case you only asked about needed repairs, which is a weird question in our price range. You went right from there to telling me you were gong to make an offer. A buyer who is willing to buy a home sight-unseen on the basis that the seller told her there were no repairs needed raises suspicion.
We’ve seen the outside of it. Everything else we need to know is public record. We know how much you paid for it, how long you’ve lived in it, any improvements made, how much the taxes are, how much rent is going for in the area, how much properties are selling in the area. We would not be living in the property so we do not need to see the inside. Anything that is worth mentioning you are legally required to disclose to us, and everything else our inspection would catch.

3) You have an AOL email address. 'Nuff said.

Really? We have @flatstone.com email addresses. However, AOL has by far the best email filing system on the market. If that makes us look suspicious, then only a fool would think that.

Thanks for the call and the potential offer. It was an interesting experience and will do much to prep me for the REAL scams that are sure to come. :-)

If you checked our public real estate transactions you would have seen we put over 50% down on every deal we do. So maybe not an ideal offer, but over $200k down on this property would not be something to scoff at like you have, and definitely would not have come with the assumptions, judgements, and unwarranted advice. We very, very rarely get rude and unprofessional replies. Anyone that is suspicious at least has the intelligence to look at the full offer, and once they see what we’re offering their suspicions die. They might not accept the offer, but they definitely don’t accuse us of anything, and if anyone ever did, all it does for us is show us who not to work with. We get way more negative response because of our faith and we incorporate our belief in with our work, not because our offer is suspicious. Maybe that’s why you responded the way you did.
Thank You & We wish you well in the sale of your property.

Flat Stone Capital LLC

Key points:

Only a fool would think that an AOL email address makes a company look suspiciousShe must really admire people with Juno email addresses. Look, that’s not just my opinion, that’s the opinion of the Internet. Sending business email from AOL (or gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com, or any other free email service) is like sending out brochures printed on a dot-matrix printer; it is unprofessional, shows a lack of sophistication, and suggests the person is elderly and out-of-touch. No offense to elderly, out-of-touch people; the point is that she should want to put her best foot forward. Hers is shod in flip-flops.

Only an unitelligent person would refuse to look at their offer. She publishes her offer contracts on her website, so I’ve seen her offer, just without the numbers filled in. It doesn’t matter if she’s making a 50% down payment — I don’t want an extended family of smoking cat ladies living in a house that I own and may have to sell in one to three years. It doesn’t matter how much you pay me. I wasn’t being stupid; I was trying to save her the trouble of putting an offer together that I already know I’m going to reject.

Perhaps the cause of my rejection was the clear display of faith and belief incorporated into her work. What?? That had never come up!

Not willing to leave well enough alone, I sent this final response:

From: Craig Rairdin <craig@craigr.com>
Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014 3:54 PM
To: <flatstonecap@aol.com>
Subject: RE: Your Property For Sale (2/10)
JJ,
Yikes.
I was just trying to give you some suggestions from the point of view of a seller whom you contacted. You clearly (and rightly so) take offense when people accuse you of running some kind of scam. That’s not what I was doing. I was just trying to explain how certain aspects of your approach have a scam vibe.
I got the distinct impression from the FAQ that being rejected was not a big deal for you, which is why I didn’t expect to be called a “fool”, didn’t expect to have my intelligence questioned, and didn’t expect to be accused of persecuting you for your faith, which I never even saw mentioned anywhere.
Once you disclosed who you were so that I could look up some information, I politely saved you the time of preparing a written offer and went so far as to offer some suggestions for avoiding the kind of negative reaction that your FAQ alludes to.
I definitely got the impression from your FAQ that you would appreciate a polite, professional rejection in advance of your offer, saving you the effort of putting an offer together. Instead, I’ve been told that I’m not intelligent for not waiting to see the details of an offer that I already know I’m going to reject. Please allow me the courtesy of choosing how to sell my house, as I’m allowing you to choose how you want to purchase. I don’t have any problem with you, your business, or your offer. It’s just not right for me. Whether it’s 50%, 75%, or 90% down — it’s not what I want to do. I would appreciate having the opportunity to make my own decisions without being called a “fool”.
I remain thankful for the offer of an offer, and continue to wish you the best in the future despite you doing your best to offend me. 🙂
Craig

I thought that might bring everything to an end. I stopped at that point and wrote this article (right up to this paragraph) because I found the whole thing amusing. When you’re called a “fool” and are accused of not doing the intelligent thing when all you were trying to do is give some helpful advice, you can’t do much but laugh and share the experience with others.

I was wrong.

Out of the modicum of respect I have for JJ I won’t repeat her entire reply here. Suffice to say she apologized:

I’m going to believe what you wrote, and that your reply and advice was genuine and not that you thought we were a scam and you were replying in anger. You truly wanted to help us, if that’s the case then you will work to peacefully settle this matter…. No matter the outcome, I apologize for responding negatively to your advice. You’ve taught me a lesson to not ever do that again. To not defend myself or my reputation, but, to simply smile, and say “Thanks for your time.”

She went on, however, to ask that I take this post down under the threat of a “slander” suit. (It’s actually libel when it appears in print.)

We’ve spoken to our attorney…. It would be a slam dunk slander lawsuit. I don’t want to take that route. I’m going to peacefully and politely ask you to take down your harsh review of our company. Our attorney told us you wouldn’t, you would claim it’s your right to do and say whatever you want, which would cause this to have to go to court, and since the offer was not presented to you, but that it’s slander we can have the case heard in Florida. Our attorney says you will only take down the blog post is if a Judge orders you to. I’m hoping that’s not the case. I don’t want to make the time or the expense to have to go to court, which I’m sure you’re not going to want to have to come to Florida, but since this is affecting our business we will have no choice in the matter.

Defamation (whether it’s slander or libel) requires that I make a statement that is provably false. Opinion is not defamation. Neither are statements that might be provably false but are clearly rhetorical. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if I’ve made such statements here.

In the interest of giving the reader a balanced view of Flat Stone Capital LLC, here are some comments from other websites about them.

  • Goldie’s Referral for Flat Stone Capital. This is a blogspot.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on December 10, 2013, over two weeks before Flat Stone Capital LLC registered as an LLC in Florida (see Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations). It’s possible there’s another company called “Flat Stone Capital LLC” that was founded two weeks before JJ’s company, but not likely. It’s more likely that someone created this page for the sole purpose of making people believe it was an unsolicited recommendation. Goldie also has a Google+ page that has no photos, no other info, just a link to her single blogspot.com article.
  • Confirmed GOOD company. This is another blogspot.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on December 12, 2013, two days after the blog entry above. It refers to a former incarnation of Flat Stone Capital that apparently existed in 2008. I haven’t been able to find that corporation so I can’t tell you much about it. But apparently by December 12 the poster knew Flat Stone Capital was an LLC, which wouldn’t be the case for another couple of weeks. Is this another made-up testimonial?
  • Flat Stone Capital. This is a wordpress.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on January 14, 2014. It says Flat Stone Capital sold his house within 8 months, which means the sale happened on or before May 14, 2013, which is before Flat Stone Capital was registered with the state of Florida. It’s becoming clear that these testimonials are all just made up.
  • Good review blog about flat stone capital. This is a blogspot.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on December 4, 2013, about three weeks before Flat Stone Capital LLC was registered with the state of Florida.
  • Joe’s Reference for Flat Stone Capital. This is a thoughts.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on January 21, 2013 and refers to a history of on-time payments, which would mean the transaction must’ve happened before Flat Stone Capital LLC was registered with the state of Florida.
  • Flat Stone Capital. This is a wordpress.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on November 27, 2013 and says they’re eight months into the contract, so the transacton took place on or before March 27, 2013 — a good nine months before Flat Stone Capital LLC was registered with the state of Florida.
  • Flat Stone Capital online reference. This is a blogspot.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on December 4, 2013, about three weeks before Flat Stone Capital LLC was registered with the state of Florida.
  • Flat Stone Capital Reference. This is a wordpress.com blog with exactly one entry. It was made on February 10, 2014.

According to the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, the registered address for Flat Stone Capital LLC is 52 Riley Rd #172, Kissimmee, FL. A Google search for that address says that it is a UPS Store. A quick call to Eric at the UPS Store revealed that they rent mailboxes and #172 would be a mailbox at their store, not an office suite in the same building. There’s nothing wrong with that; a lot of people work out of their homes or cars and use a post office box or one of these commercial mail boxes to receive mail.

So Flat Stone Capital has nothing but positive reviews online — all of which are blog sites with exactly one blog entry which is a positive review for Flat Stone Capital. At first it was confusing, since many of the blog articles refer to Flat Stone Capital before it came into existence. But then I realized all the blog articles were just fabrications so that anyone like me researching this company would find dozens of positive reviews.

One interesting “coincidence” is a company called Redfield Holdings. Flat Stone Capital is an LLC managed by JJ Pierce. Redfield Holdings is an LLC managed by JJ Pearce. Redfield’s website is very, very similar to Flat Stone Capital’s website. For example:

Flat Stone Capital Redfield Holdings
Some people have tried to buy a home before and were turned down, this may be a great opportunity for them. With our unique system I may be able to help them get approved. We have some great Flat Stone Capital homes for sale and I’m willing to work with them to make potential buyers into proud owners! If you’ve tried to buy a home before and were turned down, this may be a great opportunity for you. With our unique system I may be able to help you get approved. I’m willing to work with you to make you the proud owner, at an extremely low price in comparison to all homes like it in the surrounding areas.
We found your home through an ad you placed regarding the home. We typically look for a single-family home with at least two bedrooms and within a certain price range and area that I can work with. We found your home through an ad you placed regarding the home. We typically look for a single-family home with at least two bedrooms and within a certain price range and area that I can work with.
Q. What if your offer makes me uncomfortable or I don’t like the offer?A. Honestly, this is a question that I never thought I would have to put in the Frequent Questions, but there are people out there who don’t know how to respond to this offer. First let me explain, this is just an offer. Simply by you requesting more information or asking what terms can be offered does not make it binding to you. It is not set in stone, so if you’re uncomfortable with it or don’t like it, a simple ‘no thank you’ is all I need. If the terms of the offer might not work, then just simply reply back with a ‘no thanks.’ If you are skeptical and question whether the offer is a good one, rather than offensively reply with your thoughts on how this could potentially be a scam or not be a legitimate offer because you either don’t understand, aren’t familiar or want to sell outright; simply reply back to request more information or send me a ‘no thanks.’ That is all I need. I am not high pressure. I make an offer and will do a follow up to see if you have any questions. That’s all I’ll do. If you say ‘no thanks’ it won’t hurt my feelings or offend me. I will just reply back thanking you for your time and consideration. Q. What if your offer makes me uncomfortable or I don’t like the offer?A. Honestly, this is a question that I never thought I would have to put in the Frequent Questions, but there are people out there who don’t know how to respond to this offer. First let me explain,this is just an offer. Simply by you requesting more information or asking what terms can be offered does not make it binding to you. It is not set in stone, so if you’re uncomfortable with it or don’t like it, a simple ‘no thank you’ is all I need. If the terms of the offer might not work, then just simply reply back with a ‘no thanks.’ If you are skeptical, then a simple ‘no thanks’ is all I need. I am not high pressure. I make an offer and will do a follow up to see if you have any questions. That’s all I’ll do. If you say ‘no thanks’ it won’t hurt my feelings or offend me. I will just reply back thanking you for your time and consideration.

There are many other similarities between the two sites.

Redfield Holdings’ regsitered address is 3050 Dyer Blvd, Kissimmee, FL, which is a UPS Store that offers mailbox services. Flat Stone Capital’s registered office is also a UPS Store.

A Google search for Redfield Holdings reveals a number of wordpress.com and blogspot.com single-entry blogs singing the praises of Redfield Holdings. But it also reveals an interesting history of complaints to the Florida Better Business Bureau, one of which includes a threat from Redfield that the complaint be removed for making slanderous accusations: “They have breached contract by not allowing the 60 day default before taking action along with making slanderous accusations. Again, payment will be made. I request that these malicious, slanderous and false complaints be removed immediately.”

So are these coincidences?

  • Redfield Holdings and Flat Stone Capital have nearly the same website content.
  • “JJ Pearce” and “JJ Pierce” are very similar names.
  • While a search for my local real estate agent turns up zero single-entry blog sites that include testimonials written prior to him becoming a Realtor, both Flat Stone Capital and Redfield Holdings each have several.
  • These two firms with similar websites, operated by two JJ’s with similar-sounding last names, with a long list of single-entry blog site testimonials, are both operated out of UPS Store mailboxes in Kissimmee, Florida.

I think not. But I leave it to the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.

So…

I accept JJ’s apology. I won’t be taking the post down because I still think readers will find the exchange between us to be humorous. And nothing about it is “slanderous”. If you have a house for sale and would like to sell to JJ or someone like her who offers a rent-to-own-style contract, go for it.

And that, my friends, is how you create a real testimonial from a WordPress blog.


Update: Feb 17, 2014
There are 18 testimonials on the Flat Stone Capital website. 16 are attributed to specific people. Of those, according to my research, 4 are people who appear to have never lived in their given city/state and 10 do not exist in the entire country, leaving 2 who are possibly real people. Note that research like this based on limited information could be wrong. There could be spelling errors or name changes that would affect the results. I am merely reporting on the results of my researcher’s efforts. But this would suggest that JJ made up at least 14 of her 16 attributed testimonials.

Update: Feb 19, 2014
Here are some more companies that may have connections to JJ. Some of the connections are circumstantial so I’ll try to describe them the best I can. JJ cuts a wide swath, so it’s not surprising that she leaves a tumultuous wake.

  • Mary Jones Projects. Mentions one “Julie Bell”, who, like “JJ Pierce”, graduated from the University of Central Florida. It mentions she has an MBA. Her partner, “Mary Jones”, is said to have “graduated from The Florida State University, respectively” — the same odd wording as on the Flat Stone Capital site in reference to Ms. Pierce. The address of MJ Projects is 14900 E Orange Lake Blvd, Kissimmee FL, which is a PakMail store. Online comments about MJ Properties mention contact with “Helen Joanne Pearce”, whose husband’s name is Matthew.
  • JEP Genesis LLC. Owned by Eric Pearce. Complaints mention contact with “Joanne”, who says that “Eric” is a potential investor. Other complaints mention that “Joanne” and “Eric” are middle names. “JEP” could be Joanne Eric Pearce. JEP Genesis has an AOL email address. The mailing address of this company, 52 Riley Rd #231, Kissimmee, is a UPS Store (same one as Flat Stone Capital). An Osceola County court case (2009 CC 003103 EV) names Joanne Pearce as plaintiff and lists her address as the same box at the UPS Store on Riley Rd. Florida DMV reports Florida drivers license for Helen Joanne Pearce bears the same address and box number.
  • There are several online complaints that connect these companies to KACW Investments Inc. and contact with “Helen Joanne Pearce”. KACW’s address is 12472 Lake Underhill Rd #143 in Orlando, FL. That address is a UPS Store. Legal documents from Marion County, FL (Case 06-4590-SC) give Joanne Pearce’s address as KACW Investments, Inc, 3854 SW 168 Circle, Ocala, FL 34481, which is a mobile home.
  • Dun and King Investments is apparently run by “Neleha K. Dun”. The name “Neleha” is “(a)Helen” backwards. The link is to a fascinating discussion board with comments by Neleha and people she has alegedly scammed. The company has an AOL email address and its mailing address (1926 N. John Young Pkwy #128, Kissimmee) is listed as a gas station but also as a UPS, DHL, and FedEx location.
  • Jubilee Property Ventures is mentioned in the complaints about these other companies. It is run by “Jules Scott” who is identified as a woman. It’s address, 2224 W Columbia Ave #109, Kissimmee, is a FedEx location but may have been a Western Union when Jubilee Property Ventures was active. At that time it offered private mailboxes. In 2009, a case was brought against “Jules Scott ℅ Jubilee Property Ventures, Inc. and Joanne Helen Pearce”. The plaintiff was awarded $5000 plus $430 in court costs (Case 09-SC-13075 File #2010168032). If Joanne Helen Pearce is Helen Joanne Pearce, then this connects Jubilee with these other companies.
  • “Matt and Helen (Joanne) Pearce DBA In Faith Properties, Inc.” are named as defendants in a Marion County, Florida court case from 2007. This associates Helen with Matt, who was mentioned in connection with JEP Genesis. The address given for Matt and Helen is a house that was awarded to the plaintiff, which they may or may not have actually been occupying at the time. (File # 2007027364).
  • FS Capital LLC (New 4/4/14) A reader notified us of Helen’s latest incarnation. FS Capital LLC was registered in Florida on February 19, 2014 — five days after this blog article went up, marking the end of viability for “Flat Stone Capital”. About that same time, I happened to see Flat Stone Capital LLC sign up for LinkedIn, then about a week later the name on that account changed to FS Capital LLC so I believe the two companies are related. FS Capital LLC was registered by Faith Stuart. Its registered address (14900 EAST ORANGE LAKE BLVD, KISSIMMEE, FL 34747) is a PakMail store. Its website is virtually identical to the Redfield and Flat Stone sites.
  • Helen J Pearce is named as a defendant in Orange County, FL case 2007-CC-006343-0 and lists a UPS Store (1969 S. Alafaya Tr #125, Orlando 32828) as her address. Judgement was made against other defendants in this case but not Helen. She is listed as being “in possession of premises” owned by the plaintiff. I don’t (yet) have a company name she may have been operating under at that time.

I have still not been served with a summons for a defamation suit, but am looking forward to deposing JJ/Julie/Helen/Neleha/Joanne/Jules/Faith Pierce/Pearce/Scott/Dun/Stuart. By the way, JJ, note that I’m not living at the address we have for sale. So you’ll have to have your process server look up my current address. We’re in the book.

Update: Feb 20, 2014
A closer look at Helen Joanne (JJ) Pearce (Pierce).

Update: Apr 4, 2014
Coincidentally, all the homes sold by JJ also appear on stock photo sites!

Update: Jan 29, 2015
Helen may have crossed the wrong guy. This could be it!

A Customer Wants to Know: How Stupid Can I Be?

Back in the day, we used a number of email lists run by a program called mailman to communicate with our customers. You could join a list based on the type of device you had, and from time to time we’d email you to let you know about updates and upgrades. We stopped using these lists around 2007 but the server is still running.

Every month, the list server sends each member his password and a reminder that he can unsubscribe or change his preferences by logging into the server and making the changes. When you sign up for the list, you can turn this option on or off. Because so many people sign up by email and have a password generated for them automatically, this behavior (monthly reminders) is turned on by default.

On January 1 I received this email from a subscriber to our iPhone list. I’ve changed his name and anonymized his employer’s company name, which appeared in every email he sent. Note he’s writing from the UK.

You have just emailed me my user name and password in an e-mail in plain text.

Are you stupid or something!

I have closed my account

Jimmy McWeenie

Jimmy’s Employer’s Name Here

Normally, I would send a nice response that explains that there is no financial or personal data exposed by the password, and would explain why we enable this behavior by default. But his “are you stupid” comment irritated me. I crafted a number of more- and less-tactful responses to this email, but ended up sending this one:

On 01/01/2014 15:09, “Craig Rairdin” <craigr@laridian.com> wrote:

Jimmy,

When you signed up for this email list, you chose the option to have the server send your login credentials to you every month. We are stupid enough to send you the information that you requested on the schedule that you requested.

We’re also stupid enough to send you the products you purchase and stupid enough to respond to your support requests. We’re stupid enough to continue developing new products for new platforms and stupid enough to give them away for free.

I hope we’re stupid enough to explain this clearly.

Let me know how much more stupid you need us to be.

I hope your new year is off to the same great start that ours is.

Craig

Jimmy replied:

If you still don’t get that sending someones login details, their user name and password in plain text in an e-mail is not just stupid, it’s a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998, then you should be involved in the computer business at all.

You don’t send this data out every month, just four times since 2011, which was when I had a look at your software.

I’ve done my best to ensure that my account with you is now closed, hopefully be can now both enjoy a 2014 equally undisturbed by each other

Best wishes

Jimmy McWeenie

Jimmy’s Employer’s Name Here

I had to look up the “Data Protection Act of 1998”. It was at this point I realized Jimmy is in the UK.

On 1 Jan 2014, at 22:54, “Craig Rairdin” <craigr@laridian.com> wrote:

Jimmy,

Our company and our server is in the US. We haven’t been subject to the laws of the UK since the late 1700’s. 🙂 This is an email list you signed up for. When you signed up, you had the option to have your login credentials sent to you every month. You chose that option. The list server is following your instructions.

Every mailman list server list from the beginning of the internet has done this. I get these reminders every month from a dozen lists. I’m glad to hear you figured out how to remove yourself from the list, which is one of the options that is presented to you every month. You have not “closed your account” — just removed yourself from an unused mailing list.

I’m working on that particular server today and will shut down all the lists while I’m there. We haven’t made use of them for a long time and most people have removed themselves already.

Craig

Jimmy replied:

Unfortunately Craig, you are wrong again. Your company is currently offering it’s products through Apples UK App Store, and so those accounts will be liable to UK taxes and jurisdiction.

I very much doubt that any one who signed up, expecting some kind of news letter, thought that you would e-mail out their account details in plain text.

Tell you what, I’ll e-mail our conversation around to a few websites tomorrow, and we’ll see if, generally, people think that your company is behaving irresponsibly or not.

I’ll cc you in so that you can know who I’ve sent them to, as no doubt they will want some comments from you

Regards

Jimmy McWeenie

Jimmy’s Employer’s Name Here

So now Jimmy is threatening to expose this vile breach of privacy to the rest of the world. My experience is that people who make this threat either never follow through, or else the people they notify are used to receiving their crazy rants and just block them. So I’m not worried. Continuing to demonstrate the scope of my stupidity, I chose to respond:

On 2 Jan 2014, at 00:00, “Craig Rairdin” <craigr@laridian.com> wrote:

Our relationship with Apple is one where they act as an independent seller of our software. Our agreement with them makes them responsible for all taxes and local laws in the places in which they do business. It does not create nexus in the UK for Laridian. In fact, one of its purposes is to assure us that it is Apple that is doing business in the UK, not us. The people who signed up for the list learned about the purpose of the list on the same page where they opted to have their password emailed to them every month. If they knew they were signing up for a newsletter, they knew they were requesting their login credentials. And if they objected to receiving those, they read the instructions and learned, just as you did, how to remove themselves from the list or change their subscription settings.

Feel free to pass our conversation around to whomever you feel it would benefit. Make sure to let them know that we sent you the information you requested, that we told you how to stop receiving that information, and that you followed those instructions and now are not receiving that information any longer. If that angers them to the degree it does you, I’d be happy to discuss it further with them.

Craig

This morning, Jimmy replied:

On 1/1/14 6:13 PM, “jimmy mcweenie” <jimmy@jimmys_employer.co.uk> wrote:

I’m sure that Apple will be one of the people I send this to. From a brief viewing of Apples terms and conditions, it would seem to me that they make some effort to preclude the type of liability you suggest falling on them. Would you like to take the opportunity, right at the start, to send me a copy the details of where I signed up to have my account information sent to me in plain text? You seem to want to rely on the fact that I asked you to do this, and you were only complying with my wishes.

If you send me evidence that I specifically asked you to email me my account security information as plain text each month, I will include this information with my email of this conversation.

Is there anyone at Laridian you would like to involve in this discussion?

Regards

Jimmy McWeenie

Jimmy’s Employer’s Name Here

By threatening to involve other people at Laridian, he’s hoping to get me worried that my boss will find out how I’ve been treating our customers.  Clearly, Jimmy hasn’t read the Laridian org chart. When it comes to stupid, I’m the top dog here. I decide to bring this to an end.

On 02/01/2014 16:40, “Craig Rairdin” <craigr@laridian.com> wrote:

Here’s the documentation for Mailman, our list manager software: http://www.gnu.org/software/mailman/docs.html. It contains everything you need to know.

You may involve as many people in this discussion of the subtle details of your email preferences as you think will be interested. Personally, I’ve lost all my interest. I have explained the situation to you; you have removed yourself from the inactive list you signed up for; I have removed you from any future email we may do (though we probably haven’t sent you a marketing email in the last 10 years or so); and I’m in the process of shutting down this unused mailing list server. I’ve disabled the automatic monthly emails, which is irrelevant since I plan on having the entire physical server offline in the next few days.

I have explained that we’re not subject to the Data Protection Act of 1998 since we have no nexus in the UK. Furthermore, the mailing list does not retain any “sensitive personal data” as defined by the Data Protection Act of 1998, so unauthorized acquisition of your password would not expose any data that is protected by the Act, even if we were subject to it.

This will be my last email to you on this subject, which, as you so tactfully put it, is “How stupid can (I) be.” I believe I answered that question by simply replying to your email. I made it clearer by continuing the conversation as long as I have.

Again, I wish you the very best for the new year.

Craig

But Jimmy will have none of it. He continues:

Craig

In a mission to prove how stupid you really are, you decide to have one last poke at me, when I hadn’t taken my complaint any further.

I had decided that in light of the fact you sold Bible software, I would put the exchange to a down to a bored techie whiling the time away making ill advised comments to a customer.

However if you want to discover how serious this complaint is, I’m e-mailing Apple to see what they think of Laridian distributing customer account details across the weld every month

Enjoy

Regards

Jimmy McWeenie

Jimmy’s Employer’s Name Here

So sometime between when he said he was “sure” he was going to send this all to Apple and when he received my reply, he decided not to. Only when I replied did he decide to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Interestingly, my reply contained no “pokes” at him, only a continuation of the self-depricating theme of answering his question “How stupid are you?” in the affirmative.

I’m sure since Jimmy has no idea that I’m the President of Laridian that he has no idea who to send his email to at Apple. I’ll let you know what happens next.

On Open Source License Agreements

While I’m a fan of all the open-source code available on the Internet these days, I sure wish they paid more attention to the licensing agreements to which they require us to agree when we use their code. They’re just confusing. Most just go along with them, but it bothers me enough that I try to avoid them at every turn. Here are some examples with my comments interspersed.

BSD 2-Clause License

Copyright (c) <YEAR>, <OWNER>
All rights reserved.

The parenthesized “c” is not a legal substitute for ©. Fortunately it is not required at all when the word “Copyright” appears. (One of “Copyright”, “Copr”, or © is required in a copyright statement.) The statement “All rights reserved” is redundant and is also not required. These are minor points; they just demonstrate the lack of sophistication of the open source community and those who advise them.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  • Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
  • Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

Note that software authors like us who incorporate open-source software into our programs are required to explicitly tell you about the above conditions under the second of those conditions. However, since we don’t distribute the source code, the first condition is irrelevant to you. And since you can’t extract the binary version of the code from our program (it is inextricably compiled and linked into our program in a way that makes it impossible for the end-user to even find, let alone extract), the second condition will never apply to you. Despite these facts, we’re required to tell you the conditions under which you can redistribute this thing that you don’t have, can’t find, and would have no reason to redistribute.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS “AS IS” AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

There are two problems with the above clause. One is that it is unenforceable because you have no way to consent to it. If you are maimed by our program while it is running a line of licensed open-source code, your lawyer would sue the pants off both us and the copyright holder of the open-source code. You would lose, but not because of this clause. It would be because it would be impossible to show that the particular lines of code licensed under this agreement were responsible for your loss of a limb or whatever.

The problem with the BSD licenses is that they really don’t account for 99% of the usage of software components — that is, when they are compiled into another program. It should be sufficient for us to say the following: Portions Copyright <YEAR>, <OWNER>. The owner still gets their attribution and there’s no confusing legalese to confuse an end-user.

MIT License

Here’s another example.

Copyright (c) <year> <copyright holders>

Again, the parenthesized “c” has no legal standing.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

This paragraph defines “the Software” as the files “obtained”. It gives us a list of allowed uses. The construction of the sentence is confusing. If we simplify it by removing what I would call “parenthetical” clauses, we get: “Permission is granted… to deal in the Software without restriction… and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions”. The question is: Do we have permission to deal in the Software without restriction, or are we subject to the restrictions listed in the paragraph that follows (“subject to the following conditions”)?

One could interpret the paragraph to mean that the person obtaining the software can do two things: First, deal in the Software without restriction, and second, permit other people to do the same but only if the conditions that follow are met. That would mean that a company like ours, which is not distributing the Software (i.e. the files we obtained) is not obligated to meet the conditions of the next paragraph.

One could also interpret the paragraph to mean that the person obtaining the software must always meet the following conditions whether they’re “dealing in the Software” or “permitting other persons to do so”. I think this is the meaning intended by the authors of this license agreement, since users of this form of license seem to believe their copyright notice must be included in any program that makes use of their Software.

The problem, however, with the second interpretation is that it imposes restrictions on those who would “deal in the Software”, and the first part of the statement makes it clear that those who “deal in the  Software” can do so without charge and without restriction.

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

Remember “the Software” is the files “obtained” by the user of the software. We do not distribute copies of those files, and therefore, we do not distribute the Software. So if we interpret the preceding paragraph as saying those who “deal in the Software” are subject to the conditions here (that is, the requirement to include the copyright notice and the permission notice in all copies of the Software), then since we’re not distributing the Software, we’re not obligated to include the copyright statement anywhere in our program (other than leaving it in the original source code, but that is irrelevant to the end user who uses our program).

This paragraph further begs the question, “What is the ‘permission notice’?” The preceding paragraph identifies itself right away as granting permission, so it could be argued that it is the “permission notice”. That leaves the next paragraph in limbo:

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

I would argue that this paragraph, which I would call a “disclaimer”, not “permission”, is for my benefit only and that the preceding paragraphs do not obligate me to pass it along to anyone to whom I might distribute the Software. I’m confident that no open source software author who uses this license agreement does so believing that this disclaimer would not be provided to subsequent recipients of the Software.

I am not a lawyer, but I believe as an expert in computer software and the English language that there is nothing in this license agreement that affects me in any way other than giving me permission to use the product of this open source software author’s work with no attribution, at no charge, and with no restrictions.