A complaint against the operator of a website that published deceptive criminal histories of Maryland consumers has been settled, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced this week.
Florida resident Stanislav Komsky was the operator of Joomsef.net, a site that developed and published webpages on individuals – including Maryland consumers – that purportedly detailed their backgrounds including their criminal histories.
The consumers’ profiles contained, for example, publicly available information regarding traffic citations issued against them. However, the AG’s office alleged, those webpages exaggerated the traffic offenses by claiming that consumers had been “booked” or arrested.
Komsky also reserved a space on each webpage for a photograph of the consumer that was captioned “Mugshot Unavailable,” thus, falsely implying that a mugshot had been taken.
To view more details about those “charged” offenses, the website required a fee of $9.99.
Victims of the misleading profiles found out they were listed on Joomsef.net when they searched the Internet themselves or when background searches were performed by others, including prospective employers. When those consumers complained, however, Komsky charged them fees ranging from $39.99 to $89.99 to have the information removed from the website, depending on how rapidly they wanted it removed.
“The Internet should be a resource for sharing information, not a vehicle for spreading misinformation,” Gansler said in a statement. “Businesses cannot be allowed to post half-truths on the Internet to make a quick buck.”
The Consumer Protection Division of the attorney general’s office claimed that Komsky’s exaggeration of consumers’ criminal histories and charging of fees to have the information removed from his website were unfair or deceptive trade practices.
To resolve the alleged violations, Komsky has agreed to cease and desist from publishing false or misleading information about consumers’ backgrounds, to refund the payments he collected from consumers to view or remove information from his website and to pay the Division a $7,500 civil penalty. He has also taken down Joomsef.net website, which had been active for 84 days. Entering the domain name in a Web search engine, however, redirected this reporter to a site called eVerify.com, which also promises access to individuals’ background and records, including social media accounts and criminal histories.
For more information regarding this settlement, please call the Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662 or 888-743-0023.