Der US-amerikanische Suchmaschinenoptimierer William Stanley geht wegen Erpressung 37 Monate in Haft und muss 174.888 US-Dollar Entschädigung an insgesamt 12 Opfer zahlen. Gemeinsam mit seiner Schwester Lynn Faust betrieb er eine SEO-Agentur, die sich nicht nur legalen, sondern auch illegalen Methoden bediente. So erpresste er Unternehmen, sie online in Verruf zu bringen, sollten sie der Zahlungsaufforderung nicht nachkommen.
In der offiziellen Kundgebung heißt es:
In November 2009, GE entered into a contract with Stanley for SEO services and reputation management. Stanley was hired because of his ability to improve a firm’s online reputation through search results. After approximately one year, however, GE sought to terminate its relationship with Stanley after it determined he had acted outside of his contracted duties. Stanley also created websites that had the ability to damage GE’s reputation by associating GE with a scam. Stanley demanded additional payments to end his contractual relationship with GE and to surrender the administrator rights to the websites to GE. From November 2010 through January 2011, GE paid Stanley a total of $80,000 to terminate the relationship.
According to the factual resume, the government could readily prove that Stanley’s extortive conduct caused GE to make the above payments and to lose revenue. The extortive conduct also affected interstate commerce. In addition, the government contended that it could readily prove that Stanley engaged in similar extortionate conduct with approximately 40 to 45 victims (including GE).