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Tumblr removes malicious accounts linked to Indian businessman over online fraud

05:58 PM | 16 Jan, 2024
Tumblr removes malicious accounts linked to Indian businessman over online fraud

Microblogging and social networking website Tumblr has confirmed that it has removed several accounts and posts from its platform after its site was abused by Indian businessman Gaurav Srivastava.

The Indian businessman used Tumblr’s backdating function to create posts that appeared to be from an earlier date, then used these posts as the basis for copyright claim to manipulate Google results for his name.

Tumblr said that the blogs and their posts were removed “for violating community guidelines” after they were used in an attempt to remove factual stories about the businessman, who abused the name of American secret service Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to defraud a Dutch oil trader. The complex, international fraud carried out by Srivastava is the subject of increasing media interest after other allegations about Srivastava’s history of fraud came to light.

According to an investigation, Tumblr accounts linked to Gaurav Srivastava lied to Google to get two articles de-indexed and removed from Google’s search results by claiming that the original investigative stories were published on Tumblr and not on the journalistic platforms.

According to legal complaint repository the Lumen Database, complaints were made to Google citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The complaints claimed that the stories exposing the fraud and deceit of Gaurav Srivastava on how he cheated a Dutch oil trader were a copyright violation of the stories published on Tumblr site.

Gaurav Srivastava has a well-known history of using false copyright claims to shut down fact-based coverage of his malicious activities. After critical coverage is published, he copies the work to a new anonymous blog with no post history (often on sites like Tumblr or Medium), backdates the post, and files a complaint to Google under DMCA.

The parent company of Tumblr, Automattic, confirmed in a statement their assessment that the blogs were set up to raise fake DMCA claims – by people linked to Gaurav Srivastava – and have been “removed from Tumblr for violating our Community Guidelines”.

The statement added: “Tumblr and Automattic take legitimate copyright protection very seriously. We take great care to protect our users from fraudulent or otherwise invalid takedown notices, and similarly we have a zero-tolerance policy for blogs using our services to abuse the DMCA.”

Gaurav Srivastava first targeted Project Brazen, a US-based investigative journalism outlet run by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Bradley Hope and Tom Wright, in their original story about him, which contained their own original research and interviews.

Tumblr also confirmed that it had deleted the post published on its site used to raise a malicious claim against the Project Brazen investigation into Gaurav Srivastava’s fraud. Tumblr said: “Our team has reviewed earlybirdtimes.tumblr.com. This blog has also been removed from Tumblr for violating our Community Guidelines. Both Tumblr and Automattic take copyright protection very seriously. We will continue to manually investigate any reports of Tumblr blogs being used to publish content that is mentioned in these fraudulent takedown notices.” 

Former Wall Street Journal reporters Bradley Hope, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Tom Wright, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, revealed that Srivastava used a creative lie to complain to Google that the award-winning investigative journalism site had stolen the contents of story on Srivastava from another blog. By using Google’s copyright policy to his advantage, Srivastava used a fraudulent technique to get the story on himself de-indexed by setting up a fake Tumblr account and publishing the same content to claim it as his own – and then claimed copyright.

One of the reporters on the investigative story, Soobin Kim, tweeted: “Our @WhaleHunting_ story was removed from Google's indexes due to copyright complaints. The complaints, saved on @lumendatabase, claim that we copied a backdated blog post, all content of which was lifted from our story. This is how fraudsters curate their online reputation.”

Project Brazen from its official verified handle revealed the full scale of shocking fraud run on Google by Gaurav Srivastava to remove his expose from Google. In a thread, it revealed: 

“Our @WhaleHunting_  team recently reported on an alleged serial con man named Gaurav Srivastava, who masquerades as a CIA operative to swindle gullible business owners. Less than a month after the story ran, it disappeared from Google’s indexes. Instead, there was a note saying that search results had been removed due to complaints. On @lumendatabase, which collects online content removal notices, we found two complaints submitted to Google by someone named Sherrie Hagen, claiming that our story had infringed the copyright of a blog post on Tumblr. The post purporting to be the original had republished the text from the public preview of our story on @WhaleHunting_ , word for word. It was backdated to Oct 8th, two days before our date of publication, but the blog’s archive reveals that it was actually posted sometime in Nov.

“This US-based Sherrie Hagen in fact filed four copyright complaints to Google in November 2023, with one even claiming she was based in the UK. The Tumblr blog post that was apparently the original source of this information has now been altered to a completely different story – a move that leaves little trace of reports on Srivastava’s fraudulent activity. Our @WhaleHunting_ team reviewed multiple court documents, transcripts, correspondences and more to report and write this story, which the blog claims as its own in the complaints submitted to @Google to get it de-indexed. It even lifted the image made by @ProjectBrazen’s creative director – a photo of Gaurav Srivastava with swords in the background, inspired by the ceremonial swords he pretends to have received from various heads of state, when he actually bought them for himself. When you google “Gaurav Srivastava”, you can only find fawning articles that he likely paid for calling him a “philanthropist” and a “loving parent.” This is a glaring example of how copyright laws are abused to launder the reputations of fraudsters, and bury damning information.”

Another investigation published by DailyPakistan was targeted on 24 December 2023. The Tumblr platform was used to publish the same story in the first week of January 2024 and then backdated, before Srivastava raised a claim to Google using US DMCA legislation to get the story taken down. According to Tumblr archives, the false report was made in January 2024 after uploading it in first week of January 2024 and the same post was removed from Tumblr site two days after the DailyPakistan story was taken down – a clear case of how the Tumblr platform was manipulated.

According to the US laws, in order to make a DMCA notice the individual makes a legal commitment to tell the truth, which means that lying to secure a DMCA is effectively perjury and punishable by imprisonment and a fine.

Daily Pakistan Global Web Desk

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Currency Rates in Pakistan Today - Pak Rupee to US Dollar, Euro, Dirham, Riyal 23 May 2024

Pakistani currency rates against US Dollar and other currencies on May 23, 2024 (Thursday) in open market.

USD to PKR rate today

US dollar was being quoted at 277.25 for buying and 280.25 for selling.

Euro moved down to 297 for buying and 300 for selling while British Pound rate is 349.5 for buying, and 353 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.2 and Saudi Riyal came down to 73.45.

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 23 May 2024

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 08:00 AM)
Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar ‎USD 277.25 280.25
Euro EUR 297 300
UK Pound Sterling GBP 349.5 353
U.A.E Dirham AED 75.2 75.95
Saudi Riyal SAR 73.45 74.2
Australian Dollar AUD 183 184.8
Bahrain Dinar BHD 740.52 748.52
Canadian Dollar CAD 203 205
China Yuan CNY 38.51 38.91
Danish Krone DKK 40.52 40.92
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.68 36.03
Indian Rupee INR 3.34 3.45
Japanese Yen JPY 1.91 1.99
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 903.3 912.3
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 59.39 59.99
New Zealand Dollar NZD 170.11 172.11
Norwegians Krone NOK 25.92 26.22
Omani Riyal OMR 723.46 731.46
Qatari Riyal ‎QAR 76.42 77.12
Singapore Dollar SGD 203 205
Swedish Korona SEK 26.02 26.32
Swiss Franc CHF 305.97 308.47
Thai Bhat THB 7.67 7.82

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