My name is Steve Taplin and I am an entrepreneur and owner of numerous businesses. I have recently been the victim, and continue to be the victim of an online extortionist and scammer.
Here is what happened:
I found a service on the internet that I purchased for around $100. The website itself was not professional and did not include anybody’s names or addresses. Payment for the services was through PayPal and I thought I would try it out and wasn’t too worried about potentially losing ~$100.
After numerous weeks with no response from the company I disputed the charge through PayPal. That next day I received over 30 emails from the company with villainous threats to me personally and to my businesses. I cordially responded to these vicious emails stating that I ordered a service from your company; you did not deliver the agreed upon services, and its best that we part ways. After dozens of additional threatening emails I even offered to pay the company the $~100 just to make the threats stop. Their response was”it would not be that easy.” Within a week the online defamation and extortion began.
This technically savvy criminal was able to track down clients of mine and continuously sends them horrible emails stating Steve Taplin Scam, Steve Taplin Scams, Steve Taplin Scammer, Steve Taplin Thief, Steve Taplin Fraud, Steve Taplin Buyer Beware, Steve Taplin stole and the list goes on and on. He even stated that I stole $30,000 from him and said I would do it again to others.
Here is what I learned:
- Be VERY careful who do business with over the internet. Make sure their website / company is legit with a valid phone number, address, business references, and full profiles of executives / key leaders of the company.
- Be wary of businesses that use gmail email addresses, yopmail.com or other non-company branded emails. This is often a good sign that they don’t want their identity revealed.
- Be wary of businesses that use Google Voice phone numbers. Unfortunately, Google voice phone numbers are FREE and untraceable which has made them common among thieves, scammers, and extortionists.
- Be wary of businesses that only allow payment through PayPal. Unfortunately to get a PayPal account you only need an email and phone number. No other verification is required (you don’t even have to link a bank account), which makes it easy for thieves and scammers to receive payments.
- Comment on PayPal - they are very good at protecting the transaction itself and helping you get your money back – however online scammers and extortionists are looking for your personal and business info so they can extort you.
Through much time and expense, my team was able to uncover the identity of this dangerous internet criminal despite this man’s valiant effort in masking his identity. This individual is a US Citizen that moved to Cancun, Mexico (fleeing from his crimes). The fact that this online extortionist lives in Mexico makes it difficult to take legal action or get authorities involved. I will continue to fight this horrible person with the hopes of stopping him from doing this to others.
I also know that not everyone has the resources to conduct this kind of investigation and are defenseless against this destructive type of online criminal, which is why I am publicly sharing information this story. I am hoping to make this online con artist pay for his internet crimes. This man operates as though he is above the law because he is armed with some technical savvy to cover his tracks and lives in Mexico.
If you encounter this criminal or one similar, here are the Government agencies to report them to:
- FBI ONLINE CRIMES: https://complaint.ic3.gov
- YOUR STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS OFFICE
- FTC https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1, 1-877-382-4357
- FCC: https://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/complaints, 1-888-225-5322
- Intellectual Property Rights Center https://www.iprcenter.gov/referral 1-866-477-2060
- ICANN - https://www.icann.org/compliance/complaint