As you can tell by our commenters, we appreciate the free exchange of ideas at Runnin’ Scared even when it runs (as it inevitably does) critical of us. Some villains, however, would rig the internet game with sock-puppetry and fake praise for themselves. But they need have a care for Andrew Cuomo who, though he’s beating the hell out of Governor Paterson in polls and fundraising, hasn’t let up on his Attorney Generalling, and will not allow fake internet reviews on his watch.
This week Cuomo got plastic surgery firm Lifestyle Lift for forcing employees to “astroturf” alleged customer reviews on consumer web sites to give viewers the impression that their procedures were very successful. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery had put the word out on Lifestyle Lift and other companies offering “brand-name surgical procedures,” and LifeStyle Lift may have considered this a fitting counterattack. The AG considers it consumer fraud, and has reached an agreement with LifeStyle Lift whereby they’ll pay the state $300,000 in penalties and costs.
You can read some of Lifestyle Lift’s fake testimonials here. Hardened veterans of internet bullshit may tumble quickly to the frauds, especially from the frequent mention of the brand name (“Hi again everyone. I wanted to touch base with you all once more to let you all know how my Lifestyle Lift and I are doing”). But we can’t all be hardened veterans, and innocent plastic surgery shoppers may be grateful to Andrew Cuomo for removing these wolves from the pasture.
Oh, and Cuomo’s keeping pace in traditional fraud prosecutions too: he just busted Alexander Levy and his co-conspirators for $47 million worth of Medicaid fraud. Levy had been banned from Medicaid business for previous malfeasances in 1997, but he and his pals set up a bunch of “health care entities” anyway, off which he got paid. Levy is up on various charges, including money laundering, and the state seeks triple damages on the $47 million.