From Startup SEO Guru to Working in a Call Center in just 2 Months
This is a story about scam, (passionate)love and fortune.
It is a real story, happened to real people….and most of these people are into SEO. You are on SEO blog, that’s why I am talking about this. I won’t be showing you how to rank in top 3 on Google or anything like that, but you got to read this.
I was reading a thread on BlackHatWorld forum yesterday. OP (original poster) started by asking if BHW is a site where you can get scammed.
Some 15 posts into the thread and one of the guys (nickname Shaunm) wanted to make a point how you can actually get scammed by JrVip members (paid forum members) so he linked to a sales thread (article writing) that was created by Sudorank . SudoRank went MIA in January and lots of members lost their money and never got their articles delivered.
Now, who was/is SudoRank? He had his blog up and running in 2014 and he posted a few articles there. Fast read, but nothing spectacular. You can check out his blog via Archive. He tried to market himself as Startup SEO Guru.
And this is how we started talking to each other. He needed some quality mentions in TechCrunch and Forbes (and elsewhere) for a UK startup so he contacted me. We exchanged a few Emails. This is how I knew about his real name, Dale Harries.
And this, his real name, is important for the rest of the article. Why? Because knowing his nickname on forum is not enough to trace him. But knowing his name is pretty much enough if you spend your all day online. And SEOs do that, trust me.
I was not the only one knowing about his name, one of the posters in that sales thread at BHW posted his FB page so it was available for everyone to see. But even though everyone saw, not everyone decided to trace him. I wanted to find out what happened with Dale because it seemed to me that he was a stand-up guy.
The plot thickens
First step I took was to go back to my Emails and see what we talked about few months ago. There, I found a name of the Startup company he said he was working with. We tweeted to that company few hours ago.
They seem to be active on Twitter but that’s probably software tweeting for them. No answer so far.
I continued with in-depth Google search for Dale. I searched using his forum nickname and his Email…. No luck. I was only getting WHOIS information on sites owned by him and some random posts on Inbound.org
I also found this company site where they introduced him as a special guest at their stand and as SEO Guru. But that was all pre-2015.
I needed some January-February 2015 info. I tried to search “Dale Harries Swansea” at Google and one of the first results was a news piece posted in Wales Online, from February 2015. I thought this was some other guy but I clicked at the link. This led me to an article where they talk about the luckiest place in Wales. This couldn’t be our guy?! Lucky? I don’t think so, he has a dozen angry SEOs after his ass, asking for refunds via PayPal.
Now if you read the names of the winners, Dale is not there. OK, so I knew he is not lucky. But one name there was kinda familiar to me. I think someone on BHW mentioned that the only (fake) review on his Google+ page was written by his boyfriend.
And the name of his boyfriend is Mark Owen. Now let’s go back to that news article. Let’s see what Mark say, what will he do with his money. Besides this, we will also find out where the hell is Dale and what is his new job (not SEO guru anymore).
As we can see, Mark said that they will go spend their money on a couple of trips ( New York, Copenhagen). We also see that Dale had a job interview and they lost some money (not sure what is that about).
Dale is now working in a call center, which is fine. Who cares, lottery money is there, no need for SEO clients anymore. His Guruness resigned.
I wanted to make sure that this is the same Mark Owen (and Dale Harries) so I went to Dales FB profile to look up his friends and I found Mark Owen there, and this Mark Owen is from Swansea and looks very much like Mark Owen that got the prize.
So yeah, not a happy end for Swansea startup scene, but a very happy end for Dale and Mark.