Hey, I just met you, and this is Lazy... get these fast finance fixes and mail me, maybe?

MonaVie, Are You Hacking My Website?

15
Comments
Written by

When I first started Lazy Man and Money, I said that I'd probably write about technology 5% of the time or so. This is one of those times. Don't be scared. It really is a more of a David vs. Goliath story - one of the few that hasn't hit the movies yet. (I'm getting word into Morgan Spurlock soon.) If you are willing to bare with me, I'll make it interesting. I'll wrap the technology references in real world analogies - like a crushed pill in apple sauce, you won't even notice.

The Guatemalans Attack!

If you've seen my website over the last few days you've seen a message of: "Did you find this website slow to load or unresponsive? I have been a victim of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) attack and I have strong evidence that MonaVie is responsible which I will provide in a few days."

I've had a few people ask ask why my website is slow or why they can't get to it at all. A DDoS attack is when bunches of computers (perhaps hundreds or thousands) overload your website at once. A website is a lot like a tunnel, it can only handle only so many people at once. Big websites like Google have a really big tunnel that can handle just about anyone (billions will get you that). Smaller websites have to decide what is a reasonable size tunnel for the amount of people who typically want to get through. A denial of service attack effectively clogs that tunnel with hundreds or thousands more traffic, which creates traffic jams and crashes. This is what you've seen. Typically such attacks come from one other computer, which is easy to block - you just take away the access from that computer to your road.

However, in this case the attacks are coming from tens or hundreds of thousands of computers from all over the world. This makes it difficult - nearly impossible - to take away the access from any one computer launching the attack. Typically someone will write a computer virus that allows them take control of these computers for this purpose. The users of these computers probably don't even realize it. In this case, I can see that all the computers are coming from Guatemala, Nicaragua, and dozens of similar smaller countries.

What is interesting is that launching these illegal attacks have become surprisingly affordable and common. I found this article on about digital hitmen for hire. The article explains that for about $1200 a month you can hire a Russian group who will launch these attacks for you.

I tried to explain this situation to my wife while fighting the attack. I tend to dumb down the technology aspects as I know that's not where her interests lie. My over-simplistic explanation, in the heat of defending the attack, came out as something like, "It looks like MonaVie has hired the Russians to send an army of Guatemalans to attack my website." As soon as I said it, I figured that 99% of society would be fitting me for a straitjacket. My wife in a great moment of levity joked:

"Matate, El Hombre de Cansado, Matate!"

My wife's Spanish is better than mine, but we are about 15 years removed from our last Spanish class. Nonetheless, I got the joke. She followed it up noting that Jack Bauer is available and this seems right up his alley.

In this world of politically correctness, allow me to fully disclose that I don't know that any Russians were involved. The "Guatemalans" serve as a convenient shorthand for the tens of thousands of computers in dozens of countries involved in the attack. As for MonaVie, well let's get to that...

MonaVie Behind the attacks?

On Feb 3, 2012, I found my JuiceScam website attacked. JuiceScam is a consumer advocacy site warning people about the transgressions of MonaVie, a multi-level marketing company that sells $45 bottles of juice. The scam is so complex, with more layers than an onion, that it truly does require a full website to explain. MonaVie, naturally, hasn't taken too kindly to this. They've threatened me with legal action twice complaining about my rankings in Google. Specifically they've said:

"When an individual types in MonaVie at www.google.com, in the search box, and clicks on Google Search, the first page of Google that appears is:

http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/monavie-scam-was-my-wife-recruited-sell-snake-oil/."

MonaVie realized that they had no legal grounds to stop me from publishing the truth about their company. If you are MonaVie, what do you do next? You send a letter to your distributors telling them about your online reputation management including the following:

"One of the many factors that Google uses to determine which websites should rank in the top positions is the popularity of a website. To determine popularity of a website, they look to see how many people link to it. Google treats a link from one site to another as a vote. The more votes you get, the better.

If you have a website, a blog, participate in forums or other people’s blogs, link to official MonaVie websites and social profiles when you have the opportunity.

For example, if you are writing a post in a forum talking about how you love MonaVie Pulse, make sure to link the words “MonaVie Pulse” to the Pulse microsite (www.monaviepulse.com)."

and

"If you link to any negative websites, take down the link. You may have inadvertently linked to a negative site on your website or blog when discussing their website. Just as links will help us promote positive MonaVie sites, they will also help negative sites rank better.

If you see a negative website in the search engine results, don’t click on it. If lots of people are clicking on a negative website on the search engine results page, Google may rank it higher because it sees that so many people are clicking on it."

(You can read more about how MonaVie Tries to Suppress the Truth.)

That was over 6 months ago and things hadn't changed. Google still ranked my site very highly.

So let's recap:

  • MonaVie threatened to sue me to get me out of Google's rankings.
  • MonaVie enlisted their distributors to try to hide the truth.
  • My site exposing MonaVie's transgressions was attacked by a DoS attack. Google has openly said that they stop showing websites up when they are not reliable. They believe that such websites shouldn't be showcased to visitors because it is a poor experience for Google users (which is true).

This attack has given MonaVie has gotten exactly what they have repeatedly stated they were looking for. Someone searching Google for my article would find that it doesn't exist at all today. The 6000 comments that people spent years writing will not available to most

When I stated that "I have strong evidence that MonaVie is responsible" this is what I was referring to. MonaVie had motive, opportunity, and had shown intent on several previous occasions.

Is that strong evidence? I'll let the reader be the judge.

Note 1: I'm working with a group to get my site protected against such attacks. It has taken a little time and I thank you for your patience during this time. I hope to have it finished up this weekend, if the organization can give me a few hours of their time. Otherwise look for improvements early next week.

Note 2: Though I use the term "hack your website" in the title, many, including myself, consider a DDoS not entirely a hack. It is not like they break into your website and steal any information. I went with the term because it is better understood by the average person for when someone attempts an illegal technological attack, which is accurate here.

Note 3: I could go into much more detail about the attacks, but in interest of protecting myself from the attackers, I don't want to give details of what I do and do not specifically know.

Last updated on February 19, 2012.

This post deals with:

... and focuses on:

MonaVie

Don't forget to these five minute financial fixes to save thousands!

15 Responses to “MonaVie, Are You Hacking My Website?”

  1. Glen Craig says:

    I hope you can get a good web defense up soon for this. People have a right to all sides of a story so they can decide for themselves whether a product is for them or not.

  2. Money Infant says:

    I’ve had contacts from the Monavie people. I looked at their product and have wondered ever since who would pay $60 for a bottle of fruit juice? It is astounding the level of deception that must go into promoting and selling a product like that.

  3. Investor says:

    Money Infant says:
    February 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    I’ve had contacts from the Monavie people. I looked at their product and have wondered ever since who would pay $60 for a bottle of fruit juice? It is astounding the level of deception that must go into promoting and selling a product like that.

    ————-

    Wow now it’s 60 bucks a bottle, get your information straight before you post something as fact, and Lazy, this is totally misleading and irresponsible on your part, you approve this type of crap with full knowledge that it’s not true. It seems you’ll do anything to drive traffic to your blog.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Investor,

      I’m not entirely sure about Money Infant’s location and the shipping costs applicable for the product. Perhaps $60 is what it costs for him. I’m told that MonaVie distributors can sell the product at whatever price they want, so maybe that’s what a distributor tried to sell it to him for.

      As for why I’d approve the comment, I intended to post a follow-up message, but due to the DDoS attack on my website, my DNS is swapping back and forth between the old and new comment databases. Some may see 6 comments that were posted on Friday and others will see this. Once the DNS for the new hosting propagates, I’ll be able to look at comments in more detail.

      In the meantime, rest assured, I have an article over on my site JuiceScam detailing the costs of MonaVie.

      As for driving traffic to my blog, I would love to never have to write another word about MonaVie for the rest of my life. Let’s work together and put and end to them so that I won’t have to. The quicker we end the scam, the sooner I can get to focusing on a wider range of personal finance topics.

  4. Money Infant says:

    Dear Investor,

    If you have better information it would be helpful to everyone if you posted it rather than just mudslinging.

    My apologies if I misled anyone, but the price here in Thailand equates to roughly $60/bottle (depending on current exchange rates of course). In the U.S. the price is a “more reasonable” $39 for a bottle of juice that provides the same benefits you could get for probably less than $2 a day through vitamins, supplements and simple healthy eating habits.

  5. humiliated says:

    Lazy, this is truly sick. If it IS Monavie behind this (and I have no reason to believe that they are not responsible, judging by their past conduct)I am really fascinated by their desperate measures to control the information and keep the public uninformed. I have to say, I shouldn’t be surprised, but I really did not think that they were capable of this level of criminal behavior.

    Without revealing too much, is there any way to prove definitively that it is them? If so, can charges be laid etc.? I am a bit of a neophyte when it comes to computer hacking so I apologize for my ignorance.

    I guess on the positive side, you are obviously impacting their business so a resounding “Bravo” to you for this accomplishment. We need to all keep speaking out against these cults on-line and in our own personal lives, I know that I do.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Humiliated,

      It’s much like the hitman analogy. Is there a way to figure out who hired him? Perhaps if you can get a court order for the phone records of the suspected attacker. I don’t know how that works or if it works. My guess that previous harassment wouldn’t be enough evidence.

      Some of the comments on this article got lost in the change to a new hosting provider who specializes in attacks like these. One of the comments that was left suggested that it probably wasn’t MonaVie, but a disgruntled distributor. I meant to put in the article that I still hold that as MonaVie being responsible. It is just an indirect relationship. Much like how Napster was found to be an enabler of copyright infringement, MonaVie bares the burden of policing its distributors or finding a new distribution system.

  6. Strangely says:

    Just checked, @LM, and http://www.lazymanandmoney.com/monavie-scam/ is 4th in the Google UK results. The original “my wife etc” has dropped off page one.

    Since all these words are open, and crooks, though crooked by definition, are still pretty conniving people, I think you’ll be getting the attack of a million pings from Protandim next.
    In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the MV heads haven’t met the Protandim heads in their ajoining car parks in Utah and had a little chat and titter about it all.

    • Lazy Man says:

      A couple of months back when I was dropping, I decided to change the URL to match the title of the article more. I thinking about updating the article to contain more information like the Protandim one. I didn’t know that I ranked in the UK, interesting.

      I would be very surprised if the two companies haven’t talked. MLM is a small world and with a number of people hopping back and forth between companies it seems only natural.

  7. Strangely says:

    I note that 3 of your posts are now on page one results for the word search “Monavie” using google.com – they must be pretty hacked off (pun intended).
    And in a switch, searching for nearby Monavie neighbours and scamstering bedfellows, Protandim, pulls out 1 page one result for your postings using google.com and 2 page one results using google.co.uk!

    The good thing (about your DDoS-bashing) is that when people really start acting underhand, it becomes an impossible task for them to keep it up, especially in this day of fast cached pages, almost unlimited data storage by ISPs and fast database processing.
    Couple that with spies in the camp, and the truth in these matters always seems to leak out.

    • Lazy Man says:

      Google, at least in the US, is showing more personalized results. Perhaps that’s why you are seeing so many posts? I’m not seeing that on my end.

      I agree with you on the DDoS thing, but on the other hand, it is getting easier for hackers to take over millions of computers with hidden viruses. The attackers are getting better too.

  8. bruce says:

    Corey, why are you so secretive about your true identity? What would happen if people really knew who you were, where you lived, who you worked for etc. I think it could only add credibility to your arguments. Please enlighten us!

  9. […] suspected a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. If you aren’t familiar with a DDoS, I wrote a layman’s description of one here. I asked a few friends and they looked at the IP addresses and confirmed that they were mostly […]

  10. […] month I wrote about how my website was being attacked with a distributed denial of service. In the article itself, I purposely left some of the technical details out for a couple of […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous: Why Am I Receiving a 1099-K?
Next: Weekend Personal Finance Links (DDoS and Timeshares in Focus)
 
Also from Lazy Man and Money
Lazy Man and Health | MLM Myth | Health MLM Scam | MonaVie Scam | Protandim Scams | How To Fix | How To Car | How To Computer