Scheme To Blame Intern For PR Fraud UnravelsIt's not entirely surprising that the PR firm that misspelled the online signature of the guy they were trying to impersonate has now been busted for ineptly trying to blame an unidentified "intern" for everything. Bumbling disaster of a publicity shop 5WPR posted, in the name of a rabbi, fake blog comments about a sweatshoppy kosher slaughterhouse. When busted, senior vice president Juda Engelmayer blamed an unpaid 5WPR intern who he refused to name. Now, news service JTA is severely undercutting this explanation by reporting it traced one of the fake comments to Engelmayer's home (in part by matching the internet address of a comment to the internet address of an Engelmayer email). Whoops! Hard to blame interns at the office when the stuff is coming from your own pad. How are you going to explain this one, Juda?

By claiming he had an intern at his Lower East Side apartment at 10 pm on a Tuesday night, apparently. Said JTA:

A person identifying himself as the intern in question called JTA Thursday, but refused to provide a full name. The caller said that he posted the fraudulent comment to the JTA site using a computer at Engelmayer's apartment during a get-together there Tuesday night, but without Engelmayer's knowledge.

Now would be a good time to recap the various levels of incompetence in this whole 5WPR scheme:

  • After being hired for its internet PR expertise, 5WPR attempts to plant fake comments from both supporters and (most deviously) critics of the kosher slaughterhouse on various websites.
  • This scheme unravels because the company doesn't bother to leave its office or mask its IP address when posting.
  • This scheme also unravels because the company misspells the name of a rabbi when signing a comment in that rabbi's name.
  • CEO Ronn [sic] Torossian claims an "investigation" is under way to find out which of his employees spun a laughably incompetent Web of amoral deception in the service of flackery. This time.
  • VP Engelmayer, assigned the slaughterhouse account, blames an unnamed, unpaid "intern" for the fraud. Says this "intern" has been fired.
  • This story starts to unravel because, as blog Failed Messiah notes, the first two impersonation posts appeared in February, "well before any summer interns were working at 5W." Ahem.
  • The story unravels further when two fraudulent Web comments are traced to Engelmayer's apartment.
  • "Intern" calls to say he was hanging with Engelmayer at his apartment Tuesday night and slipped, undetected, onto Engelmayer's computer to do some impromptu character assassination, so don't blame Engelmayer because Engelmayer did not do it.
  • Probably next: Caller comes forward as a paid shill. Engelmayer said he hired him on behalf of the intern, who is deathly afraid of the press, because that's the sort of person who takes an unpaid PR internship.

[JTA, Failed Messiah]