Some obscure bloggers really want you to know the CEO of MoviePass' parent company is not a 'scam artist'
Getty / Dave Kotinsky / Stringer
- Four obscure blogs wrote similar posts about Ted Farnsworth, the CEO of MoviePass' parent company, pushing back against anyone calling him a "scam artist."
- The posts, which date back to 2015, contain some sentences that are exactly the same, and appear prominently in Google search for either "Ted Farnsworth scam" or "Ted Farnsworth scam artist."
- Farnsworth, who has registered 50 different companies in Florida over the past 30 years (according to the Miami Herald), has been under fire from unhappy investors this week as his company has suffered cash-flow issues and a cratering share price.
- A few have called him a "scam artist" or worse on Twitter.
Several obscure internet bloggers really want you to know that Ted Farnsworth, the CEO of MoviePass' parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), is not a scam artist.
Farnsworth has been under fire the last week from HMNY investors upset at the 1-for-250 reverse stock split the company enacted, and the subsequent cratering of the share price back under $1. (Browse $HMNY for the most recent examples of negative sentiment, including calls for the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the company.) On Thursday morning, HMNY stock was trading at around $0.14, mere cents away from its pre-stock split share price.
MoviePass has had to take drastic measures to get its cash burn, which reached $45 million monthly, under control. The service experienced an outage late last week that the company disclosed was because it didn't pay some of its merchant and fulfillment processors.
But even in the days leading up to the company temporarily running out of money, Farnsworth and MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe always presented sunny faces to investors. When asked about MoviePass' cash-flow situation in late July, Farnsworth told Business Insider he was "not worried."
The current financial situation for MoviePass and HMNY has more than one person accusing Farnsworth of being a "scam artist" on Twitter. But there are several bloggers, with posts dating back to 2015, who want you to know that Farnsworth is, in fact, not a scam artist.
Business Insider found four blogs posts with very similar language that prominently appear when you search on Google for "Ted Farnsworth scam" or "Ted Farnsworth scam artist."
"There is a lot of publicity surrounding Ted Farnsworth and even some innuendos of him being involved in scams," one blog post starts, written by someone who goes by Ella Emerson. "But as you know anyone on the internet can accuse anyone of being in a scam, that doesn't mean they are."
Here's how another, written by someone known as Sajid Rehman, begins: "Theodore Farnsworth is in the news quite routinely and because he is, at times you will observe postings and comments on the internet declaring that Ted may be a scam artist. I really don't think that it's right to say he or someone else is associated with scams unless you have proof."
While there are variations in the copy, they all paint Farnsworth's various business ventures and philanthropic efforts in an extremely positive light.
Other writers at more established outlets have not been as generous.
Bloomberg published a story in October that detailed Farnsworth's history of penny-stock "wipeouts." Citing Florida's business registry, The Miami Herald reported earlier this year that "over the past three decades, Farnsworth has registered more than 50 different companies in Florida, including energy drink ventures, a hotel group, and a video company" - not to mention "a psychic hotline that featured La Toya Jackson as a spokeswoman."
But the four blog posts are strange not only because of their positive tone and subject matter, but because they all contain a few of the exact same phrases.
For instance, the following sentence appears in all four posts:
"Mr. Farnsworth's entrepreneurial spirit has led to feature articles in numerous publications, including Forbes, Fortune, Investor's Business Daily, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, to name a few, and appearances on MSNBC and CNBC."
So where could these blog posts have come from?
"There are many 'black hat' reputation firms that use a smorgasbord of spammy tactics to try and cover up a bad reputation," Andy Beal, CEO of Reputation Refinery and author of "Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation," told Business Insider. "Instead of helping to genuinely rebuild a tarnished reputation and work on campaigns that highlight a person's honest effort to rebuild their character, they instead rely on efforts to game the search engines."
"Shady tactics include paying bloggers to publish ghost-written posts, asking friends and employees to write positive blog posts, or even creating new company or personal websites and linking them together to manufacture some Google juice," Beal continued. "Fortunately, Google looks for both relevance and authority. Most high profile individuals will find their negative news appears on high profile, high authority websites. These will always outrank spammy, artificially created web content on Google. If Ted Farnsworth is behind any spammy reputation clean-up efforts, it will do more harm to his overall reputation than good."
None of the bloggers returned requests for comment from Business Insider. However, after emailing the address provided for Sajid Rehman, Business Insider got a reply from someone named Umair Idrees, whose email listed his company as "Alpolink," the same company mentioned on Rehman's author page. Idrees did not provide any information on the origin of the blog post about Farnsworth.
On Alpolink's website in the portfolio section, the company says "our clients are seeing the value of managed search engine marketing through proven results, and you can too."
A representative for Farnsworth and HMNY did not respond to a request for comment.
Here are the four blog posts:
- "Ted Farnsworth - Scam Artist or Entrepreneur ?"
- "A few things to know about Ted Farnsworth"
- "The Ted Farnsworth Scam Demystified"
- "Ted Farnsworth Scams Facts About Theodore Farnsworth's Business"
If you have any further information about Ted Farnsworth's businesses or about Helios and Matheson, email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.