Precedent finding in broker 'espionage' conflict

Precedent finding in broker 'espionage' conflict

Precedent finding in broker

In what could well be a precedent-setting case, CAAMP has found a broker in violation of its code of conduct for effectively using a competitor’s name to drive traffic to his own website.

He “has until mid-August to agree to the settlement,” said Mark Webb, ethics investigator for CAAMP, in a letter to the complainant. “If he does not then he will be required to attend a hearing. If he refuses to attend, his CAAMP membership will be suspended.”

The decision is believed to be the first case involving the use of questionable search engine optimization practices, or so-called “Black Hat SEO,” by a mortgage broker brought before CAAMP. It would see the violator fined $500, handed a written reprimand to remain on his file for five years among other things.

Earlier this year MortgageBrokerNews.ca was the first to report on the concerns of BC-broker Mike Averbach. The mortgage professional would ultimately take his complaint to CAAMP, specifically alleging another broker had encoded his name on a blog webpage entirely unrelated to Averbach or his firm. The result was a Google search for Averbach’s name would also result in that competitor’s site appearing in the search results.

The accused broker has said that the use of Averbach`s name was inadvertent and the fault of a former manager of his website.

Averbach, one of the first brokers to use the Internet to actively promote his business, said the intention was clearly to capitalize on his early success.  He said he wished CAAMP had reached for a higher fine.

“It was a very frustrating time for me, so I consider this a small victory not only for myself, but for the other brokers in Canada that have had their website information copied or misused by others for the purpose of ‘Black Hat SEO’ gains,” Averbach told MortgageBrokerNews.ca.

There is more to the CAAMP`s proposed censure. The committee would also publish a summary of the case and its findings as well as require the broker to complete an online course on the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards.

Averbach told MortgageBrokerNews.ca that he received the proposed settlement from CAAMP late last week but does not know if the accused broker has accepted the terms.

“The fine is less than what I believe was merited and could have been at least four digits,” he said. “That being said, I am satisfied that CAAMP is taking this case as seriously as I have and will require publication of a full summary.”

 

11 Comments
  • BOB SMITH 2012-08-01 3:56:25 AM
    ths is welcome news. I have a very similar situation with two competing brokerage firms capitalizing on using variations of my brokerage name that has been in place since 1999. I have attempted to contact Mark Webb with no response to date . Need more value for the CAAMP dues we are paying and not just lip service .
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  • CAAMP is doing this themselves 2012-08-01 4:09:40 AM
    After reading this article I did a quick search on CAAMP’s own website. Seems the pot is calling the kettle black. CAAMP is guilty of black hatting as well. I don’t really care, but since they’re taking the ethical high road, they should be held to their own standards.

    Their meta keywords on their site include “Seneca”

    One can only assume that this is to get people looking for Seneca’s course to come to their website instead.

    Go to their site and view their source. See it for yourself…until they take it down

    They also do this on their Ontario Mortgage Agent Course page, as well as all of their mortgage course pages.

    So who does CAAMP fine at CAAMP? And how much are they going to fine themselves? Will they put a letter on their file…etc. etc. etc lol
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  • Jeremy 2012-08-01 4:45:08 AM
    Like in any industry, there will always be leeches out there. I think our Governing bodies i.e. FICOM, RECA, etc... need to take a stance and promote more ethical behavior among it's members. I think there should be a zero tolerance, you're either ethical or you're not. Stop with the hand slap of $500, nobody cares, pull their license! It's time we lose some dead weight!!

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