What can one say as an Internet attorney about marketer Perry Belcher’s arrest? I take no joy in it — and it certainly could have been prevented at many stages in his career. There are some who may become angry that it is being discussed in public (particularly marketers who have done business with him) but it needs to be analyzed in the context of ethics, the law, and Internet marketing in general.
Who is Perry Belcher? He’s not an Internet attorney.
A look at Perry’s Linked-in profile will give you some idea of his prior successes online. From what I can tell, he’s a very talented individual who made some poor choices.
Perry has been charged with computer fraud, imitation of a licensed professional, and deceptive business practices. This was the result of an investigation by federal, state, and local government agencies. You can read about it in the press release issued by the sheriff’s department after his arrest.
Sadly, there are many Internet marketers pushing the envelope with conduct as illegal as what Perry Belcher is alleged to have done (remember that an arrest alone doesn’t mean he’s guilty).
Shady small-time operators think they’ll fly under the radar and won’t get caught. Many act out of desperation when their online businesses aren’t making any/enough money.
Large marketers listen to their egos and believe they’re invincible because they’re better at screwing people over than those who do get busted.
If you have a friend who has crossed the line with their Internet marketing practices, share the story of Perry Belcher with them. Maybe you’ll get them to stop in time before they get caught. Don’t accuse your friend of wrongdoing. Just pass along the story and let them draw their own conclusions. If nothing else, maybe they’ll talk with their Internet attorney before doing something stupid online.
03/08/09 update – Tenn. auctions off fortune amassed by Internet scam artist
08/30/09 update – Perry Belcher pleads guilty. You can download his criminal records at this link (PDF file).