My E-Mail to the Virginia Police re the Campaign
of Terror Against Our Board Communities

Set forth below is the text of an e-mail that I sent on October 1, 2008 to Sergeant Kelly of the Purcellville, VA police force. I subsequently had several conversations with both Sergeant Kelly and with Special Agent Michael Jedfrey of the High Technology Crimes Unit of the Virginia Department of  State Police.

Sgt. Kelly:

Here are some printouts of internet postings that show the campaign of harrassment and intimidation aimed at me as a result of my posting accurate information on what the historical stock-return data says re safe withdrawal rates at the Motley Fool discussion board in May 2002:

1) Printout #1 (“A .22 caliber bullet fired from a handgun is not likely to cause death even when fired at very close range into the head”) is a post in which the poster discusses what gun model to use to kill me. It is clear from the context in which this post appeared that the intent was to threaten me, my family and any poster who agreed with me, supported me, or expressed a desire that the internet harassment directed at those who posted honestly on safe withdrawal rates be brought to an end. There were numerous highly abusive posts appearing at this board at this time. Several community members had made promises to begin reporting the abusive posts to the site owners. The response of the abusive posters was to become intensely angry at “censors.” Hence the title of this post — “Busy Censors.” There are earlier posts at this board at which posters threatened to come to my house with a baseball bat if I did not stop posting honestly on SWRs. Many of those have been removed but there are some posts remaining that contain quotes of the threatening posts (and I presume that Motley Fool has copies in its files of all of the threatening posts).

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18207722&sort=postdate

2) Printout #2 (“Can Retiring Early Make You Crazy?”) is the first page of the listing of threads in the “The Best of Hocomania” section of John Greaney’s discussion-board site. John is the author of an Old School SWR study (this is the type of study that I showed to be analytically invalid in my postings at the Motley Fool site) and has served as the leader of the effort to intimidate those posting honestly on the SWR topic at the Retire Early and Indexing board communities. The purpose of this printout is to show the effort that has been put into the internet harassment campaign. These two pages show that there are 20 separate threads (some with scores or even hundreds of posts) appearing on the first page of this discussion board index. The titles show that the majority of the threads are efforts at intimidation (a thread entitled “Pyschotic Man Kills Mother with Hatchet” obviously does not belong in a discussion of retirement planning). And Page Two shows that this is only one page of 84 pages listing additional such threads (at roughly 20 threads per page, that’s roughly 1,680 threads). And there are numerous other sections to this web site. Nor is this web site the only web site at which Greaney “defenders” have engaged in extensive abusive posting to intimidate those posting honestly on the SWR matter. There are hundreds of thousands of such posts appearing at more than half a dozen different boards in the Retire Early and Indexing communities.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?board=HOCO/20

3) Printout #3 (“Psychotic Man Kills Mother with Hatchet”) contains the first page of text from this thread. The intent of comments like “maybe he really is going to try to track down that girl he had a crush on and stalked back in law school” is obvious.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1218883109

4) Printout #3 (Value-Informed Investing — Real Estate Style) contains numerous photos of rooms of my house obtained from a listing on the internet created when I put the house up for sale. The house photos are an obvious invasion of privacy when put forward in this context and are obviously intended for intimidation purposes when combined with the death threats made at earlier times.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1217994638

5) Printout #5 (“Abandon This Stinkhole — Over 10,000 Already Have”) is a post in which one of the Goon posters brags of having over 10,000 registered users for a porn site that was created under my name. Hundreds of thousands of spam e-mails have been sent out under my name in promotion of this site, which was created to damage my internet writing business (the Yahoo search engine has identified my site as a spam site because of the hundreds of thousands of e-mails sent out under my name). The threat here is that my means of earning a livelihood will be destroyed unless I am willing to stop posting honestly on the SWR matter.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1208271965

6) Printout #6 (“Wikipedia Solicits Authors for Hocomania Article”) is a post in which Greaney encourages his supporters to write disparaging comments about me (and thereby do harm to my means of earning a livelihood) at a Wikipedia encyclopedia entry. Numerous other tricks of this nature have been employed as part of the intimidation and harassment campaign, which has been ongoing for over six years now. New intimidation posts have been advanced on a daily basis for that entire time-period. There were many times in which hundreds of intimidation posts were put forward in a single day.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1208235563

7) Printout #7 (“Bennett Divorce Details?”) is a post which makes false claims that my wife has left me. A person’s family life is obviously a personal matter and mentions of my wife and children by the Goon posters is obviously of particular concern given the history of threats of physical violence from this group. Again, such threats are obviously an inappropriate means of blocking people’s efforts to learn what they need to know to engage in effective retirement planning.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1206392076

8 ) Printout #8 (“Google Search for “Rob Bennett”) shows the Goons bragging that they have damaged my reputation and my means of making a living by putting up enough abusive posts to cause the Google search engine to place their abusive posts high in the search rankings. The obvious threat is that these efforts will continue unless I am willing to stop posting honestly on the SWR matter.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1191979128

9) Printout #9 (“Should We Start a Craigamania Board?” shows what the Goons do to posters other than myself who express a desire than honest posting on SWRs be permitted. They threaten to start boards directed at them similar to the ones directed at me. This tactic has been employed on numerous occasions. There is an entire section of the Greaney site aimed at ridiculing and threatening John Walter Russell, a retired government worker who has spent six years of his life preparing investment research for the benefit of the Retire Early and Indexing communities. There have been numerous occasions on which I have posted to blogs and members of the Goon Squad have appeared with links to the Greaney site and implicit suggestions that the blog owner had better not permit honest posting on this topic.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1149702468

10) Printout #12 (“Rob Bennett Exposed as Fraud and Sexual Deviant”) is a post by Greaney at his discussion board announcing the publication of an article appearing at his web site. Posters who share information on investing at discussion boards obviously do not  by doing so agree to have smear articles appear about them. This article makes the obviously false claim that “Mr. Bennett has a long history of plagerism and copyright infringement.” There are several similar articles appearing at Greaney’s site. The obvious threat is that such malicious articles will continue to appear and to damage my means of earning a living for so long as I post honestly on the SWR matter.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1149472246

http://www.retireearlyhomepage.com/rob_bennett_deviant.html

11) Printout #11 (“The Coin Toss”) falsely claims that I have engaged in plagerism. This is an obvious effort to do harm to my writing career.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1133725238

12) Printout #12 (“Chicago Tribune”) documents how the Goon Squad makes malicious claims to reporters who write articles about me in an effort to do harm to my writing career. In this case, the reporter’s editor asked that she call me to verify that the claims made by the Goons are false. This is an intimidation tactic that has been employed on numerous occasions.

http://www.s152957355.onlinehome.us/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1128554471

Rob Bennett

Comments

  1. Rob says

    It has always been my belief that the day will come when all of the Retire Early and Indexing boards will be reopened to honest posting on SWRs and other valuation-related topics.

    It has also always been my belief that the sooner this happens, the better things will be for every single community member (including those who have posted abusively).

    I don’t believe that there is any one thing that will turn things around. I think it has to be a combination of approaches that does the trick.

    All community members need to be firm in their insistence that honest posting be permitted. It’s degrading to participate at a board that does not permit honest posting on all topics relevant to the board mission; this is especially so for “experts” like Bogle and Bernstein and Swedroe and Ferri and Burns and Easterling and Clements and Kitses and Bengen and so on. We also need to be guided by a spirit of love and understanding and charity in our thoughts and actions on all other questions — We are all going through big changes in our understanding of how stock investing works in the real world and that needs to be taken into consideration.

    The bottom line is — it’s a group project. Each and every community member wants to see us find our way to a better place (even if some do not yet acknowledge that they want this!). We need to take into consideration the beliefs and experiences of each and every community member in developing our plans for how to make the journey. That doesn’t mean that we tolerate posting practices that degrade us and that cause us to suffer huge financial losses. It does mean that we need to temper our reactions in deference to our understanding of the full realities (as they have been revealed to us during the first seven years of our investing discussions).

    Love! Courage!

    Rob

  2. Rob says

    I can only offer my own thoughts, Liff (I would of course like to hear the thoughts of other community members on this question).

    My belief is that, if we restore consumer confidence, we will be fine. If we fail to do so, I think there may be dark days ahead.

    I believe that the key to restoring consumer confidence is explaining to people why so much of their retirement money went “poof!” I strongly believe that we need to talk straight with people. I have always thought this was the right thing to do. With the coming of the economic troubles, I view it as absolutely imperative.

    Rob

  3. says

    Hello All,

    I am new here and just wanted to introduc myself.

    I have a few questions but I will first search for the answers before asking them just in case they have been asnwered.

    THanks!

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