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    'Fact checking' website Snopes on verge of collapse after founder is accused of fraud, lies, and putting prostitutes and his honeymoon on expenses


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    'Fact checking' website Snopes on verge of collapse after founder is accused of fraud, lies, and putting prostitutes and his honeymoon on expenses

    Post  sinister_midget on Sat Sep 02, 2017 7:27 pm

    I put this in "Politcal" because it gets used by a lot of people as some sort of authority on politics. They didn't even used to get into it, but in recent years they have more and more.

    Their political "fact-checking" practically mirrors the "fact-checking" of others, like CNN, ABC, WaPo, etc. When they turn out wrong Snopes usually does, too, because they reach many of the same conclusions and claim the same evidence or lack of it. And just like those others, when they're found to be wrong they never go back and admit it.

    I put them in much the same category of that other much relied-on online spreader of false facts, Wikipedia. Both have many truths. Both also have many biased, unresearched and sometimes egregious errors that they refuse to correct.

    'Fact checking' website Snopes on verge of collapse after founder is accused of fraud, lies, and putting prostitutes and his honeymoon on expenses (and it hasn't told its readers THOSE facts)

    Fact-checking website Snopes is on the verge of financial collapse after its owner was accused of embezzling company funds to pay for his contentious divorce battle and lavish overseas trips with his new wife, a former Las Vegas escort and porn actress.

    The company's financial woes have gotten so bad that Snopes' owner David Mikkelson started a crowd-funding website pleading for donations this week, which raised over $500,000 from generous readers in its first day.

    But can disclose significant facts which are entirely missing from the fact-checking website's version of events - including the fraud allegations against Mikkeslon. was started by David Mikkelson and his ex-wife Barbara in the mid-1990s as a website that debunked myths and urban legends.

    In recent years, it has started to delve into the area of politics and 'fact-checking' so-called 'fake news' stories.

    After the presidential election, Snopes was chosen by Facebook to sit on a panel of arbiters who would determine whether news stories posted to the social media site were 'fake news.'

    But at the same time, revealed in December, the two co-founders were involved in a bitter divorce battle in which he was accused of embezzling nearly $100,000 in company funds to spend on personal expenses and prostitutes.

    Barbara asked a court at the time to restrict Mikkelson's bank access, claiming his wild spending was going to deplete the company's accounts.

    Now an advertising and internet services company called Proper Media is making similar accusations against Mikkelson in a lawsuit filed in May in California which is scheduled for a court hearing next month.

    Proper Media's owners last year purchased 50 percent of Bardav Inc., the company founded by both Mikkelsons that owns Snopes, taking Barbara's 50 per cent share.

    Proper Media claims that over the past year Mikkelson 'engaged in a lengthy scheme of concealment and subterfuge to gain control of the company and to drain its profits.'

    Mikkelson counters that Proper Media – which Snopes also contracts for advertising work – has been holding the website 'hostage' by 'withholding advertising revenue.'

    In a plea for donations this week, the Snopes founder said the website 'is in danger of closing its doors' due to Proper Media allegedly refusing to turn over ad income or relinquish its control of advertising on the website.

    'Our legal team is fighting hard for us, but, having been cut off from all revenue, we are facing the prospect of having no financial means to continue operating the site and paying our staff (not to mention covering our legal fees) in the meanwhile,' said Mikkelson.

    But Proper Media insists that Mikkelson's personal spending and mismanagement is to blame for Snopes's money woes.

    In legal papers filed in San Diego Superior Court, they say: 'But while Snopes is built entirely around the concepts of transparency and truth, its founder, Defendant David Mikkelson ('Mikkelson') has engaged in a lengthy scheme of concealment and subterfuge to gain control of the company and to drain its profits.'

    The company says Mikkelson unilaterally broke the advertising contract earlier this year and has bristled at shareholder efforts to rein in his spending.

    They note that even as Mikkelson claimed to be under financial duress in court filings in June, he signed the documents while on a trip to Orleans, France.

    'If Mikkelson is permitted to continue unabated as a director of Bardav, he will irreversibly drain the company of important financial resources through personal and unnecessary expenditures,' said Proper Media in the lawsuit.

    The company also claims Mikkelson carried out 'pervasive fraud' at Snopes and used the accounts to pay for lavish trips and personal items while refusing requests from shareholders to examine his expenditures.

    According to the lawsuit, Mikkelson spent 'tens of thousands of dollars' from the company on legal fees for his acrimonious divorce from Barbara last year, a drawn-out battle that included disputes over Mikkelson's salary and alleged spending on prostitutes.

    Court documents from their divorce and its aftermath revealed that he wanted to be paid $720,000 a year. 

    He is also accused of spending 'tens of thousands of dollars' on personal trips, including a honeymoon with his new wife to Tokyo Disneyland.

    The lawsuit claims Mikkelson spent money on Young, who he married last year. 

    Young was an escort in Las Vegas up until at least 2015 and charged $500 per hour, according to her website. 

    She has also starred in adult films under the name 'Erin O'Bryn,' and ran unsuccessfully for congress in Hawaii as a Libertarian in 2004.

    Her site, which is still online, describes her as 'an elite courtesan who provides discreet companionship for those who appreciate the finer things in life.'

    'I have an adult woman's build and and the soul of an indomitable force of nature burning within it,' she wrote.

    Young now works as an administrative assistant at Snopes.

    Mikkelson claimed in legal filings that Bardav Inc. spends $165,000 per month running – a cost that is larger than the advertising revenue Proper Media says the website brings in.

    'Bardav's claims of financial distress are gravely concerning,' said Proper Media. 'Mikkelson, by his own admission, is operating Bardav at a monthly deficit and cannot be trusted with the Bardav purse strings.'

    '[N]otably, while he argues that Bardav is on the brink of collapse, [Mikkelson] signed his declaration in Orleans, France,' continued Proper Media.

    The lawsuit also claims Mikkelson conspired with a former Proper Media employee named Vincent Green in an attempt to seize majority control of Bardav Inc. this spring.

    Green, a Marine veteran who was vice president of operations at Proper Media, allegedly became close with Mikkelson while working on the website as part of his responsibilities at the advertising company.

    'Throughout his employment, Green worked extensively on the Snopes website, and, as a result, came to personally know and befriend Mikkelson,' said the lawsuit.

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