Jeffrey Epstein was a PR master at managing his reputation — here’s why his ‘spamming the internet’ tactic wouldn’t work today
A reputation repair program for a prominent person convicted of criminal wrongdoing can easily cost more than $100,000
Jeffrey Epstein wielded upper-crust cachet and an online PR storm to rehabilitate his image after registering as a sex offender more than a decade ago, according to a recent profile by The New York Times. But the latter tactic would be far less effective if he were to employ it today, reputation-management experts told MarketWatch.
The wealthy financier, who pleaded not guilty this month to sex-trafficking charges, reportedly “surrounded himself with prestige and counted on others to look past what he had done” after serving 13 months in a Florida county jail. Epstein, 66, had cut a controversial plea deal in 2008 after having been accused of sexually abusing underage girls.
‘Jeffrey Epstein appears to be a natural at social engineering amongst high society.’ — Jonathan Bernstein, a crisis-management consultant
He went on to launch a handful of websites highlighting his contributions to society — among them JeffreyEpsteinEducation.com and JeffreyEpsteinScience.com — as well as flood the internet with positive Epstein press releases and faux news stories. He also played up his benefactor connections to Harvard University, which he never attended, according to the Times.
Burying Negative Results With Reputation Repair Programs
Indeed, a common strategy is to push negative stories beneath the first page of search results. Michael Frantz, the director of Jail Time Consulting and a former white-collar offender who served federal prison time, says his firm offers a reputation repair program that creates content, including social media pages and positive exact-match domains (domain names that match specific keywords) for clients. A website for the service says its goal is “to bury as many of the negative articles as possible so no one sees them.”
One consultancy also offers a criminal-records removal service that promises to ’remove everything about anyone’ from 33 criminal background-check websites.
“We’re creating all this backlinking, blogs, sites and then articles over and over … we can do videos,” Frantz told MarketWatch. Cost for the basic service starts with a $1,500 down payment and he charges a monthly fee for six months, he said, typically totaling $10,200. The price tag can increase, depending on the nature of the client’s case, he said.
The consultancy also offers a criminal-records removal service that promises to “remove everything about anyone” from 33 criminal background-check websites, including Intelius, BeenVerified and LexisNexis Peoplewise. That work involves filing documentation containing the person’s personal details with each individual company to have the information removed, Frantz said, and costs a client $865.
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