As an investor, it is impossible to eliminate concerns. You scour through stock price history, contemplate past revenue, check out a company’s notable names, and repeat this procedure many times, until you finally make your order. If you’ve got additional time or consider yourself to be a little savvier than your stock-trading friends, you may also scan through past press releases from the company in question. Since you’ve done your homework and have put in the effort, your well thought out trade should have a good chance for profitability with minute risks. This is what it takes to trade successfully, unless you’re relying on nefarious techniques.

Shouldn’t you be able to maintain your peace of mind knowing you’ve done everything humanely possible to diminish your risk? Thanks to potential new forms of market manipulation, this may not be the case. In fact, the research you’ve done could very well cloud your judgment and steer you into oncoming traffic. The Internet has undeniably proven to be a very powerful resource for investors, but some sources could do more harm than good. Some of the latest forms of manipulation are capable of misleading the masses.

 

Amazon Knows Full Well

At this point, everyone should be well familiar with Amazon’s ongoing battle with fake reviews. Unsurprisingly, Amazon isn’t the only entity, which has been targeted by those selling fake reviews. Reseller Ratings, Sitejabber and even Trustpilot have fallen prey to similar techniques. Yahoo! Local, Yelp, AngiesList and Google Places are also vulnerable. Heck, it is even possible to purchase reviews for the BBB’s website.

In 2012, app developers could purchase three app reviews from iOS and Android marketplaces for as little as five dollars. Fiverr, which is notorious due to the Amazon crackdown, has also been targeted. In 2015, buying a fake Fiverr review was as cheap as six or seven dollars apiece, depending on which provider you selected. Unfortunately, nothing is off limits and the majority of providers reside outside of the United States, so they’re practically untouchable or just not worth the time.

Could fake reviews potentially manipulate investors into investing their money unwisely? Sure, if they utilize the information to analyze a company’s performance. This is especially true for app related stocks, such as Glu Mobile and Zynga. Buying reviews to tilt the opinion in one direction or the other could very well classify as a form of market manipulation.

Unfortunately, it is the unaware consumer, who will be hurt the most. And sadly, spotting negative reviews is often easier said than done. Even with Amazon, the tricksters easily gain “Verified Purchase” status, before leaving their stain behind and that stain is destined to linger for far too long.

 

ClickBank

The ClickBank concept is great at a glance. If the platform was once respectable, there are no visible signs of that today. In fact, it has truly become the Benny Hinn of the Internet. With ClickBank, consumers can find an assortment of miracles just waiting to be purchased for a small monthly fee. Suffering from tinnitus, depression or kidney disease? Have no fear. There is a “product creator” on the ClickBank platform waiting to sell you a miracle.

Wait. Did you really think kidney disease was incurable? According to Duncan Capicchiano, it can be reversed and you can even skip your next dialysis appointment. Want to find out how? Just fork over sixty-seven dollars and you’ll find out about the breakthrough cure. Even if you’re in end stage renal failure, Duncan’s technique can improve your quality of life and enhance your kidney function. Sure, anyone with half a brain will understand that they’re walking into a scam, but when you’re suffering from such a disease, you’ll do anything to seek rectification.

Unfortunately, finding information regarding Duncan is nearly impossible. However, he has also written several other breakthrough e-books, including Hepatitis ABC Solution, and Liver Cirrhosis Solution. Yep, he is a genuine Benny Hinn. Unsurprisingly, the websites for the latter two books have disappeared, yet the telltale signs remain. Simply do a search for all three and you’ll stumble across mock websites from affiliates, who wish to make a few dollars by peddling the garbage.

And of course, ClickBank is truly a diverse platform and its users have thought of everything. Needless to say, they also have products directed at investors. Trading Addicts, Microcap Millionaires, and many other ClickBank products want to tell you how to trade your money. Once again, if you search for each of these, you’ll find mock websites made by affiliates, who want to earn from your loss. Many of these sites appear to be written by non-native English individuals, so you should trust their opinions at your own risk.

Although the knowledgeable investor will be wise enough to steer clear of ClickBank products, the public at large may not and it is truly unfortunate. And the scariest part of all is that ClickBank somehow manages to maintain an A+ rating with the BBB. Of course, for ClickBank, maintaining that status is as simple as issuing a few refunds. Still, the company’s reputation remains forever blemished. ClickBank clearly doesn’t care that they’re complicate in offering hope, yet peddling a pipedream to some of the most unfortunate people on earth.

 

The Press Release

The importance of press releases for public traded businesses and investors is undoubtedly paramount. Press releases provide us with pertinent information rapidly. The announcement of new products, earnings reports, and even bankruptcies are reported in this manner. Those who consider themselves to be savvy investors will ultimately use the provided information to their advantage. And why shouldn’t you? Press releases deliver accurate information usually directly from the company to the consumer.

Unfortunately, nothing is off limits to those that wish to manipulate your mind. The World Wide Web has truly become oversaturated with press release distributers and many of them have no guidelines or regulations. Businesswire and Newswire appear to do an excellent job of weeding out the fraudulent stories, but how about others? PRBuzz.com clearly does not and it is painfully obvious, when scouring through their press releases, many of which are obviously not native English.

In fact, many aren’t newsworthy at all. Sadly, the package platform and the lack of regulations from PRBuzz make it a safe haven for devious individuals, who want to manipulate the consumer or the investor. Sure, some of the press releases, such as the one for MarylandPavingContractor.com, are riddled with errors and easy to spot, but others are not. We experimented with PRBuzz’s submission process and it was laughable in more ways than one.

boston.com fake press release

We crafted a press release, which was clearly fraudulent and nothing more than a hoax. We then proceeded to Fiverr and paid a small fee for an overseas outsourcer, who pays the $499 a year, to post our release. Much to our surprise and despite going through several people, the press release was submitted and was even picked up by Boston.com. If it weren’t so frightening, it would be hilarious. Although our press release was clearly playful in nature, others are not and they clearly intend to sway the consumer’s opinion in one direction of the other. Sadly, according to the company’s own website, your press release must be well written, professional, ethical, and factually based. Most on the site are not.

 

PRBuzz

According to PRBuzz’s website, their customer base includes General Mills, Rutgers University, Breitling Oil And Gas, and even the Donald Trump Organization. Although it is unlikely the Trump Organization has ever used the service, they do have many press releases regarding the billionaire. Among the most insightful, you’ll find an animal chiropractor offering Trump his VP recommendation of Monica Lewinsky. Truly, it is hard to ignore the nefarious nature of PRBuzz.

If any legitimate company is utilizing the service, they need to stop immediately. It is clearly obvious how well Bing and Google trust the press release distributor. According to both search engines, the site simply isn’t newsworthy and none of their press releases will be located in their respective news sections. Sadly, with PRBuzz, you’ll find yourself in a lose-lose situation. And, finding information about the company is just as difficult as finding newsworthy content within their press releases.

Depending on where you search, you’ll find the company claiming to have originated in 2004 or 2005. The earliest LLC filing dates back to 2006 and is registered in Naples, Florida. Unfortunately, the website has failed to conceal many of its transactions, which can be seen here. The company has undoubtedly proven to be a jackpot for its registrant, Todd Pree. The same individual has also registered a string of other businesses, including T4 Media Group, Pickle Pro LLC, Pickle Grip LLC, DialCentric INC., and Mass Media Distribution LLC. The PR Buzz LLC has records to several different addresses. Most are connected to mail box rentals and UPS stores, which says something. Another thing to consider is Todd’s boastfulness for Pickle Pro, yet his lack of enthusiasm for PRBuzz, which has rewarded him handsomely.

 

A 2-Way Street

The mass majority of PRBuzz customers are not businesses. They’re Internet marketers, who wish to capitalize on the SEO benefits of PRBuzz. Sadly and as mentioned above, the site is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Does it offer any substantive SEO value to clients? Yes, but not what one paying nearly five hundred dollars a year would expect. First and foremost, one only needs to look at the site’s backlog of links to easily identify potential problems.

prbuzz private blog network

Although it is impossible to say for certain, PRBuzz illuminates the telltale signs of a sophisticated Private Blog Network or PBN. PRBuzz itself is hosted with RackSpace.com. And of course, many of PRBuzz’s referring links originate from domains and IP address directly connected to RackSpace.

  • Powerful-press-release.com – 67.192.87.179
  • Pr-press-release.com – 67.192.87.174
  • Press-release-distribution.net – 67.192.87.177
  • News-release-distribution.com – 67.192.87.174
  • Pr-submission.com – 67.192.87.175
  • Online-news-release.com – 72.32.242.21
  • News-press-release.com – 72.32.242.20
  • Pr-Buzz.com – 72.32.242.17

All of the above are linked directly to RackSpace. Although it is impossible to say for certain, the site truly resembles a PBN. If you’re unfamiliar with such, the private blog network allows PRBuzz.com to boost its metrics, while giving it more credence with Google and other search engines, and this in return makes it more valuable to Internet marketers. And don’t even forget the websites listed below.

  • Zelamar.com
  • Submit-press-release.info
  • Akuarios.com
  • Press-release-distribution.org

After a bit of research, it is safe to say that PRBuzz isn’t a press release distribution service at all. Simply head over to their website, grab a press release title and run it through Google. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find the press release in Google’s new section, but it is doubtful. However, you will find generated articles at the domains above, as well as free article directories of sorts. However, there is one thing that needs to be noted. PRBuzz seems to have a habit of taking press releases from other services, such as SBWire, and giving the impression that they’re one of theirs.

With the BBB, the company currently maintains a D+ rating. According to the BBB, the rating is based on 13 factors. Two include the company’s failure to respond to one complaint and the sheer volume of complaints leveled against the company. Todd Michael Pree may be going through troubles of his own, but he will continue raking in the cash and allowing his site to manipulate the minds of others, unless consumers better educate themselves to such practices. So, at the end of the day, whether you’re an Internet marketer, manage a business, or want to research a potential investment, PRBuzz and other similar sites should be avoided.

 

The Impact

Unfortunately, the impact of such devious behavior is not yet evident. When researching for this article, I was sadly able to discover some investor forums, where investors utilized PR Buzz press releases for analysis. And it is almost certain consumers have already been harmed by the fake reviews on Amazon and other retail sites. As far as ClickBank goes, the company claimed to have paid affiliates over 1.8 million dollars in 2011. The number is likely much higher now, which equates to more victims.

With Google’s decision to ban advertisements for payday lenders, perhaps it is time to take further action? Some of these sites are harmful to the majority of people, who are unfortunate enough to stumble across them. Not only that, but also Google has a habit of banning private blog networks. Will PRBuzz’s PBN be next? For the sake of the public at large, search engines should do the right thing and protect where possible. Sadly, it will be up to consumers and investors to protect themselves from these groups.

Check your sources and double-check your sources. Don’t stop, until you’re fully confident you have not been led astray and then take your leap of faith. PRBuzz has ignored contact requests regarding a fraudulent press release.

I am a proficient writer and news enthusiast. I strive to remain consistently up to date with the on-goings in the world, especially with businesses and markets.