Article from DealersEdge: Dealer sues former Internet manager over online vandalism, defamation | News | DealersEdge
Originally Posted by DealersEdgeDealer sues former Internet manager over online vandalism, defamation
A lesson in why dealers need to guard their online reputations vigorously (12/3/2009)
Odd things started happening after Robert Brandoff was fired from his job as Internet Coordinator for Fette Ford in New Jersey. Email links stopped working, and worse. The police weren’t interested in helping, so Fette Ford took more direct action.
According to a report in the Hackensack Record, the Ford dealership filed a lawsuit against its former Internet manager accusing him of using his insider knowledge and stolen passwords to vandalize the dealership’s website, after he was terminated.
In its federal lawsuit, Fette Ford says it hired Mr. Brandoff in February 2008. The dealership terminated him 10 months later, but documents filed with the suit give no reason for his departure.
Six months later, and three days after Mr. Brandoff visited Fette Ford and talked with former co-workers, a customer told the dealership that its website had some defamatory statements about the company and that some vehicle prices had been altered.
Later, the dealership discovered that various email links on the site had been changed, effectively shutting down aspects of a marketing campaign -- such as those that enabled customers to ask for information and price quotes.
Mr. Brandoff is also accused of posting "numerous expletives" and defamatory statements about the dealership on the site, the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark says.
Vandalism prompted some customers to visit the dealership looking to buy vehicles at the altered prices. In one case, it is alleged that Mr. Brandoff changed an advertisement to offer a 2007 Mustang Saleen Coupe at $19,995, $40,000 less than the MSRP.
As a result, the dealership says it suffered "great financial and economic injury in amounts that are continuing." .
Among other charges, the suit accuses Mr. Brandoff of fraud, violating the state Computer Related Offenses Act and conversion, or taking ownership of someone else’s property. The suit asks the court to stop the former coordinator from doing further damage, and seeks unspecified compensation.
Managers at Fette Ford referred the matter to the County Prosecutor’s Office. Investigators there identified the Internet address of the person who made the changes and subpoenaed records, confirming that it was Mr. Brandoff. The matter was referred to local police who say they don’t expect to file any charges.
Who else has heard of this stuff?