July 20, 2024
KrebsOnSecurity Threatened with Defamation Lawsuit Over Faux Radaris CEO – Krebs on Safety

On March 8, 2024, KrebsOnSecurity printed a deep dive on the patron information dealer Radaris, exhibiting how the unique house owners are two males in Massachusetts who operated a number of Russian language courting companies and affiliate applications, along with a dizzying array of people-search web sites. The themes of that piece are threatening to sue KrebsOnSecurity for defamation until the story is retracted. In the meantime, their legal professional has admitted that the individual Radaris named because the CEO from its inception is a fabricated id.

KrebsOnSecurity Threatened with Defamation Lawsuit Over Faux Radaris CEO – Krebs on Safety

Radaris is only one cog in a sprawling community of people-search properties on-line that promote extremely detailed background studies on U.S. customers and companies. These studies sometimes embody the topic’s present and former addresses, partial Social Safety numbers, any recognized licenses, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, in addition to the identical data for any of their speedy kinfolk.

Radaris has a less-than-stellar reputation relating to responding to customers searching for to have their studies faraway from its numerous people-search companies. That poor repute, mixed with indications that the true founders of Radaris have gone to extraordinary lengths to hide their stewardship of the corporate, was what prompted KrebsOnSecurity to research the origins of Radaris within the first place.

On April 18, KrebsOnSecurity acquired an authorized letter (PDF) from Valentin “Val” Gurvits, an legal professional with the Boston Regulation Group, stating that KrebsOnSecurity would face a withering defamation lawsuit until the Radaris story was instantly retracted and an apology issued to the 2 brothers named within the story as co-founders.

That March story labored backwards from the e-mail deal with used to register radaris.com, and charted a formidable array of knowledge dealer corporations created over the previous 15 years by Massachusetts residents Dmitry and Igor Lubarsky (additionally typically spelled Lybarsky or Lubarski). Dmitry goes by “Dan,” and Igor makes use of the title “Gary.”

These companies included quite a few web sites marketed to Russian-speaking people who find themselves new to the US, corresponding to russianamerica.com, newyork.ru, russiancleveland.com, russianla.com, russianmiami.com, and so on. Different domains related to the Lubarskys included Russian-language courting and grownup web sites, in addition to affiliate applications for his or her worldwide calling card companies.

A thoughts map of assorted entities apparently tied to Radaris and the corporate’s co-founders. Click on to enlarge.

The story on Radaris famous that the Lubarsky brothers registered most of their companies utilizing a made-up title — “Gary Norden,” typically referred to as Gary Nord or Gary Nard.

Mr. Gurvits’ letter said emphatically that my reporting was lazy, mean-spirited, and clearly meant to smear the repute of his purchasers. By means of instance, Mr. Gurvits mentioned the Lubarskys had been really Ukrainian, and that the story painted his purchasers in a detrimental gentle by insinuating that they had been in some way related to Radaris and with vaguely nefarious parts in Russia.

However extra to the purpose, Mr. Gurvits mentioned, neither of his purchasers had been Gary Norden, and neither had ever held any management positions at Radaris, nor had been they monetary beneficiaries of the corporate in any approach.

“Neither of my purchasers is a founding father of Radaris, and neither of my purchasers is the CEOs of Radaris,” Gurvits wrote. “Moreover, presently and going again not less than the previous 10 years, neither of my purchasers are (or had been) officers or workers of Radaris. Certainly, neither of them even owns (or ever owned) any fairness in Radaris. In intentional disregard of those info, the Article implies that my purchasers are personally liable for Radaris’ actions. Due to this fact, you deliberately brought on all detrimental allegations within the Article made with respect to Radaris to be imputed in opposition to my purchasers personally.”

Dan Lubarsky’s Fb web page, simply previous to the March 8 story about Radaris, mentioned he was from Moscow.

We took Mr. Gurvits’ phrase on the ethnicity of his purchasers, and adjusted the story to take away a single point out that they had been Russian. We did so despite the fact that Dan Lubarsky’s personal Fb web page mentioned (till just lately) that he was from Moscow, Russia.

KrebsOnSecurity requested Mr. Gurvits to clarify exactly which different particulars within the story had been incorrect, and replied that we’d be completely happy to replace the story with a correction if they may show any errors of truth or omission.

We additionally requested specifics about a number of points of the story, such because the id of the present Radaris CEO — listed on the Radaris website as “Victor Ok.” Mr. Gurvits replied that Radaris is and at all times has been primarily based in Ukraine, and that the corporate’s true founder “Eugene L” relies there.

Whereas Radaris has claimed to have places of work in Massachusetts, Cyprus and Latvia, its web site has by no means talked about Ukraine. Mr. Gurvits has not responded to requests for extra details about the identities of “Eugene L” or “Victor Ok.”

Gurvits mentioned he had no intention of doing anybody’s reporting for them, and that the Lubarskys had been going to sue KrebsOnSecurity for defamation until the story was retracted in full. KrebsOnSecurity replied that journalists usually face challenges to issues that they report, however it’s greater than uncommon for one who makes a problem to take umbrage at being requested for supporting data.

On June 13, Mr. Gurvits despatched one other letter (PDF) that continued to assert KrebsOnSecurity was defaming his purchasers, solely this time Gurvits mentioned his purchasers can be glad if KrebsOnSecurity simply eliminated their names from the story.

“In the end, my purchasers don’t care what you say about any of the web sites or company entities in your Article, so long as you utterly take away my purchasers’ names from the Article and cooperate with my purchasers to have copies of the Article the place my purchasers’ names seem faraway from the Web,” Mr. Gurvits wrote.

MEET THE FAKE RADARIS CEO

The June 13 letter defined that the title Gary Norden was a pseudonym invented by the Radaris advertising and marketing division, however that neither of the Lubarsky brothers had been Norden.

This was a startling admission, provided that Radaris has quoted the fictional Gary Norden in press releases printed and paid for by Radaris, and in information media tales the place the corporate is explicitly searching for cash from traders. In different phrases, Radaris has been misrepresenting itself to traders from the start. Right here’s a press launch from Radaris that was printed on PR Newswire in April 2011:

A press launch printed by Radaris in 2011 names the CEO of Radaris as Gary Norden, which was a faux title made up by Radaris’ advertising and marketing division.

In April 2014, the Boston Enterprise Journal printed a narrative (PDF) about Radaris that extolled the corporate’s fast development and appreciable buyer base. The story famous that, “so far, the corporate has raised lower than $1 million from Cyprus-based funding firm Difive.”

“We dwell in a world the place data turns into far more broad and far more out there each single day,” the Boston Enterprise Journal quoted Radaris’ faux CEO Gary Norden, who by then had in some way been demoted from CEO to vice chairman of enterprise improvement.

A Boston Enterprise Journal story from April 2014 quotes the fictional Radaris CEO Gary Norden.

“We determined there must be a service that enables for ease of monitoring of details about individuals,” the faux CEO mentioned. The story went on to say Radaris was searching for to boost between $5 million and $7 million from traders within the ensuing months.

THE BIG LUBARSKY

In his most up-to-date demand letter, Mr. Gurvits helpfully included resumes for each of the Lubarsky brothers.

Gary/Dmitry Lubarsky’s resume states he’s the proprietor of Difive.com, a startup incubator for IT corporations. Recall that Difive is identical firm talked about by the faux Radaris CEO within the 2014 Boston Enterprise Journal story, which mentioned Difive was the corporate’s preliminary and sole investor.

Difive’s web site in 2016 said it had places of work in Boston, New York, San Francisco, Riga (Latvia) and Moscow (nothing in Ukraine). In the meantime, DomainTools.com studies difive.com was initially registered in 2007 to the fictional Gary Norden from Massachusetts.

Archived copies of the Difive web site from 2017 embody a “Portfolio” page indexing all the corporations by which Difive has invested. That listing, out there right here, consists of just about each “Gary Norden” area title talked about in my unique report, plus a couple of that escaped discover earlier.

Dan Lubarsky’s resume says he was CEO of a individuals search firm referred to as HumanBook. The Wayback machine at archive.org reveals the Humanbook area (humanbook.com) got here on-line round April 2008, when the corporate was nonetheless in “beta” mode.

By August 2008, nonetheless, humanbook.com had changed the name marketed on its homepage to Radaris Beta. Finally, Humanbook merely redirected to radaris.com.

Archive.org’s file of humanbook.com from 2008, simply after its homepage modified to Radaris Beta.

Astute readers might discover that the area radaris.com shouldn’t be among the many corporations listed as Difive investments. Nevertheless, passive area title system (DNS) information from DomainTools present that between October 2023 and March 2024 radaris.com was hosted alongside all the different Gary Norden domains on the Web deal with vary 38.111.228.x.

That deal with vary concurrently hosted each area talked about on this story and within the unique March 2024 report as related to e-mail addresses utilized by Gary Norden, together with radaris.com, radaris.ru, radaris.de, difive.com, privet.ru, weblog.ru, comfi.com, phoneowner.com, russianamerica.com, eprofit.com, rehold.com, homeflock.com, humanbook.com and dozens extra. A spreadsheet of these historic DNS entries for radaris.com is on the market right here (.csv).

Picture: DomainTools.com

The breach monitoring service Constella Intelligence finds simply two e-mail addresses ending in difive.com have been uncovered in information breaches through the years: [email protected], and [email protected]. Presumably, “gn” stands for Gary Norden.

A search on the e-mail deal with [email protected] through the breach monitoring service osint.industries reveals this deal with was used to create an account at Airbnb below the title Gary, with the final 4 digits of the account’s telephone quantity ending in “0001.”

Constella Intelligence finds [email protected] was related to the Massachusetts quantity 617-794-0001, which was used to register accounts for “Igor Lybarsky” from Wellesley or Sherborn, Ma. at a number of on-line companies, together with audiusa.com and the designer eyewear retailer luxottica.com.

The telephone quantity 617-794-0001 additionally seems for a “Gary Nard” person at russianamerica.com. Igor Lubarsky’s resume says he was the supervisor of russianamerica.com.

DomainTools finds 617-794-0001 is related to registration information for 3 domains, together with paytone.com, a website that Dan Lubarsky’s resume says he managed. DomainTools additionally discovered that quantity on the registration information for trustoria.com, one other main client information dealer that has an atrocious repute, based on the Higher Enterprise Bureau.

Dan Lubarsky’s resume says he was liable for a number of worldwide telecommunications companies, together with the web site comfi.com. DomainTools says the telephone quantity related to that area — 617-952-4234 — was additionally used on the registration information for humanbook.internet/biz/data/mobi/us, in addition to for radaris.me, radaris.in, and radaris.tel.

Two different key domains are related to that telephone quantity. The primary is barsky.com, which is the web site for Barsky Estate Realty Trust (PDF), an actual property holding firm managed by the Lubarskys. Naturally, DomainTools finds barsky.com additionally was registered to a Gary Norden from Massachusetts. However the group listed within the barsky.com registration information is Comfi Inc., a VOIP communications agency that Dan Lubarsky’s resume says he managed.

The opposite area of observe is unipointtechnologies.com. Dan Lubarsky’s resume says he was the CEO of Wellesley Hills, Mass-based Unipoint Know-how Inc. In 2012, Unipoint was fined $179,000 by the U.S. Federal Communications Fee, which mentioned the corporate had failed to use for a license to offer worldwide telecommunications companies.

PATENTLY REMARKABLE

The 2011 Radaris press launch quoting their faux CEO Gary Norden mentioned the corporate had 4 patents pending from a workforce of laptop science PhDs. In keeping with the resume shared by Mr. Gurvits, Dan Lubarsky has a PhD in laptop science.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Workplace (PTO) says Dan Lubarsky/Lubarski has at least nine technology patents to his name. The faux CEO press launch from Radaris mentioning its 4 patents was printed in April 2011. By that point, the PTO says Dan Lubarsky had utilized for precisely 4 patents, together with, “System and Method for a Web-Based People Directory.” The primary of these patents, printed in 2009, is tied to Humanbook.com, the corporate Dan Lubarsky based that later modified its title to Radaris.

If the Lubarskys had been by no means concerned in Radaris, how do they or their legal professional know the within data that Gary Norden is a fiction of Radaris’ advertising and marketing division? KrebsOnSecurity has discovered that Mr. Gurvits is identical legal professional responding on behalf of Radaris in a lawsuit against the data broker filed earlier this 12 months by Atlas Information Privateness.

Mr. Gurvits additionally stepped ahead as Radaris’ legal professional in a class action lawsuit the company lost in 2017 as a result of it by no means contested the declare in court docket. When the plaintiffs advised the choose they couldn’t accumulate on the $7.5 million default judgment, the choose ordered the area registry Verisign to switch the radaris.com area title to the plaintiffs.

Mr. Gurvits appealed the decision, arguing that the lawsuit hadn’t named the precise house owners of the Radaris area title — a Cyprus firm referred to as Bitseller Knowledgeable Restricted — and thus taking the area away can be a violation of their due course of rights.

The choose dominated in Radaris’ favor — halting the area switch — and advised the plaintiffs they may refile their criticism. Quickly after, the operator of Radaris modified from Bitseller to Andtop Firm, an entity shaped (PDF) within the Marshall Islands in Oct. 2020. Andtop additionally operates the aforementioned people-search service Trustoria.

Mr. Gurvits’ most-publicized defamation case was a shopper named Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian expertise government whose title appeared within the Steele Dossier. That doc included a set of salacious, unverified data gathered by the previous British intelligence officer Christopher Steele in the course of the 2016 U.S. presidential marketing campaign on the course of former president Donald Trump’s political rivals.

Gubarev, the top of the IT companies firm XBT Holding and the Florida internet hosting agency Webzilla, sued BuzzFeed for publishing the Steele file. One of the items within the file alleged that XBT/Webzilla and affiliated corporations performed a key position within the hack of Democratic Occasion computer systems within the spring of 2016. The memo alleged Gubarev had been coerced into offering companies to Russia’s fundamental home safety company, often called the FSB.

In December 2018, a federal choose in Miami ruled in favor of BuzzFeed, saying the publication was protected by the honest report privilege, which supplies information organizations latitude in reporting on official authorities proceedings.

Radaris was initially operated by Bitseller Knowledgeable Restricted. Who owns Bitseller Knowledgeable Restricted? A report (PDF) obtained from the Cyprus enterprise registry reveals this firm lists its director as Pavel Kaydash from Moscow. Mr. Kaydash couldn’t be reached for remark.