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He's taking advantage of people with MI


kittenhugs
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Hello everyone,

I believe a man, the administrator of a community is taking advantage of mentally ill people and threatening to shut down a community if he doesn't get $170 every month. This forum has about 50 members. Some of the members wrongly believe that it costs $170 to run a community web site. These members have already made friends there and invested their time and heart into the community and some have promised to give money. Many people are upset over the "URGENT" need of the administrator for this money. He sent everyone an email on 7/26/08 and informed them of his need, giving everyone until 8/10/08, which is about 13 days to come up with the money.

I want to warn the members of this forum to beware, but I have been bullied by the administrator and have been threatened that he will put his attorneys on me if I slander him. It does not cost $170 to run a web site and forum that only supports 50 members. He claims that it costs $10/month for a domain name, about $100/month for his internet connection, and about$50/month for electricity. He said he runs his own servers in his mobile home and has financial difficulty.

I was a web designer before I became mentally ill and currently have web sites up that make money through advertising(eventhough the money no longer goes to me). At first I tried to help the administrator. I suggested that you can make money off sites with advertising. Google ads, especially the text ones aren't instrusive at all and I'm sure members wouldn't mind them. I posted some links to trusted hosting providers and domain name providers that I used. They aren't the cheapest, but are reasonably priced and have excellent support and service. Running a website for 50 members without advertising would cost about $6.00 to $12.00 per month in hosting fees at Hostgator. A domain name costs $6.99/year at 1and1.com.

Someone made a post, clearly very upset that her place of refuge where she has formed many friendships might go offline. I tried to assure her and everyone that if worse came to worse we could move to a free forum host. I also offered to use hosting that my sister has to set up a new forum. After this I was insulted by the administrator. This was because I offered my help?

This post where I was insulted, etc was deleted the next day. I wish he would have left it up so that everyone could have seen what he's really like. When I tried to make another post, it wouldn't go through and under my username it said "moderated". I made a new name (which was the same as my original name with a 2 after it) to try and get some help because I couldn't reply to any posts and I wanted to know what the "moderated" meant. Then the forum informed me almost immediately before I could ask for help that my second username had been banned. I tried my original username and that had been banned as well. I used proxies to sign up with two other usernames and tried posting a letter to the members informing them of what was going on and of my suspicions. These were also immediatly deleted and I was banned before I could get word out to the members of this community. He has now made it so that everyone requires admin approval before they are registered. He says he can trace everything back to my IP addess and will not allow me access.

All of this has created allot of stress for me. I see good people being taken advantage of. When you are already struggling with mental illness the last thing you need is to be rejected, ridiculed, and tried to be taken advantage of.

I have prayed about this and I believe it is the right thing to tell everyone the truth. Hopefully they will realize web sites don't normally have donation drives and suddenly threaten to shut down if they don't get a specific amount of money in so many days. And if they research how much it does cost to run a website they'll know that you can actually run a forum for free (with their advertising on every page) at many free forum hosts. If you are wise with promotion, Google optimization, and ads you can make a profit from them.

The administrator tried to explain his pricing by stating that the community was totally secure on his own server and that he had been hacked several times in the past. You don't need your own server for only 50 members. Hostgator hosting has always been secure for me. My websites have never been hacked. And even if a forum or website is hacked, a wise administrator has back-ups at the ready.

What I want to know is what is the next step I should take? Is what he is doing illegal? How can he purposely misguide mentally ill and lonely people into believing that he pays that much? He now claims that he is going to turn me over to his attorneys for slander. I will paste his letter to me at the bottom of this message.

I'm sorry if I have upset anyone. Sometimes the truth isn't good. And thinking that someone you used to trust isn't worthy of that trust is hard to do. I really had high hopes for the forum and thought I had found a safe place to share and make friends. I was especially encouraged because I believed there were other mentally ill people there who shared my faith in God.

Living with mental illness can be isolating and lonely. It's hard to find other people who understand the roller coaster mental illness can put you through. But I can't let that lonliness blind me. I was tempted to even apologize for the disagreement and go along with his scam because I wanted to make friends with the people there. We all need people in our lives. But not if it means being taken advantage of.

In his latest letter to me, he has accused me of harrassment, slander, spamming, name calling, etc. All of this because I made some usernames on the forum to try and let others know that there was hope outside of the forum they were in. Has this ever happened to anyone? What has your experience been with being banned? What should I do? I don't want to let others be taken advantage of, but I don't want to be thrown in jail for the things he's accusing me of either. What are my rights? Don't I have the right to tell the truth? I have his name, web site, and email address and I want to shout them to the rooftops so that everyone knows what he's doing. What would you do if you were put in this situation?

Here is a copy of his email to me:

What you have done, is called "spamming" a website. It's illegal. What you said in your posts was called "slander"....also illegal. The way you went about it is called "harrassment"...equally as illegal. So, let me break this down for you...

What we do is provide members with a service. We own our own servers so that requires money. We do this because, as I explained, we require speed and services that other servers cannot provide. Yes, it costs 170.00 per month to run, instead of a free-bee site that can be hosted non-local...for around 20 dollars. Therefore..in order to provide the services that NONE of the other FREEBEE sites can provide, we do ask for donations. Perfectly legal. The donations are capped at 170.00 dollars. Again, perfectly legal. If I was going to scam anyone...I wouldnt ask for 170 lousy bucks. There is no reason for the slander, the harrassment, the irrational behavior, or the other illegal activites that you have responded with.

The messages, the IP addresses, the email addresses (including the one behind the Proxy Server) have been traced to one location, one ISP, and are being turned over to my attorneys first thing tomorrow morning.

I can and WILL have your full address from the information I traced your account with, via my attorneys. I will have your local police on the line and dispatched to your home (again, via my attorneys) if you don't stop causing me and my site trouble. Your name-calling and constant harrassment and slander constitute harrassment and are in direct violation of FCC law 32701 - A and B. You are also in violation of state laws that govern your district. Specifically.. the laws prohibit the sending of any electronic communication that is threatening, obscene or harassing (FCC Penal Code § 653m). Additionally, authority to pursue such criminal investigations is granted to either the law enforcement agency having jurisdiction at the point of receipt, or the law enforcement agency at the point of transmittal. What that means is that either YOUR local police can come and arrest you, or my local police can press charges via interstate authority, and your local authorities can STILL come and arrest you. You can explain your behavior to a judge and you could, realistically, spend some time in jail while you are at it. Additionally, other Federal statutes may also have been violated by your conduct. My attorneys will determine that, again, first thing tomorrow morning.

So I am advising you, as my attorneys will, no doubt, very shortly...to cease all activities that involve slandering, harrassing or spamming (NAME REMOVED), or myself.

This is your final warning, This is your ONLY warning.

Sincerely,

(NAME REMOVED)

Edited by kittenhugs
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