June 12, 2007 10:45 PM PDT
Hated blogger leaves U.S., threatens lawsuits
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Casey Serin, arguably the world's most-hated blogger, rocketed to Internet stardom after disclosing his pending foreclosures, marital strife and unwillingness to find a job. But the 24-year-old's online fame was hardly flattering: it arose from legions of readers who call themselves "haterz" and frequent his iamfacingforeclosure.com blog to ridicule his financial missteps and urge Serin to pay back up to $420,000 he is said to owe creditors.
The latest kerfuffle arose last week after Serin blogged about a contract with a mysterious "independent publisher" for self-help material about how to deal with foreclosure. To the so-called haterz, this represented an enticing challenge, which they met by outing the publisher as self-styled Internet marketer Marty Stewart and even unearthing a confidential business plan for iamfacingforeclosure.com and related audio files that Stewart left on a Web site that was not password-protected. The files have since been mirrored elsewhere.
Now Serin and Stewart are crying foul. We're going to "aggressively be pursuing any Web site that has our private content posted on it," Stewart said in a telephone interview with CNET News.com on Tuesday. "Obviously it's copyrighted content and it's being smeared all over."
"We've been letting everything go for so long, people think they can just do this without any penalties," Serin added.
This interlude highlights the difficult task that Serin has faced in trying to profit from iamfacingforeclosure.com's popularity. Some of his readers are resolute in offering advice to someone they view as a misguided but promising young entrepreneur. Others are devout Christians who urge him to follow the Bible more closely.
But the so-called haterz have become the most vocal. The HousingPanic blog calls Serin "the physical representation of fraud, greed, debt, fear, bubbles and human folly." Others, including some inside the U.S. Department of Justice, have been prodding federal and state prosecutors to indict Serin for mortgage fraud. A more recent suggestion is to take up a collection for a Galina Divorce Fund that would cover "legal fees, basic living expenses, psychological therapy."
Serin issues threats
Blogger says he has left his wife, the U.S., and is threatening legal action.
Download mp3 (19.3MB)
Along the way, Serin's notoriety led to appearances on Suze Orman's and Robert Kiyosaki's financial-advice shows, and the creation of an entire encyclopedia, Caseypedia.com, with hundreds of entries mocking his exploits. A Casey Serin Dance Remix appeared, as have photo galleries depicting him as, alternatively, Gilligan from Gilligan's Island and McDonald's Hamburglar character. Casey's Web site has even become a case study in a presentation submitted for the Defcon hacker convention discussing click fraud, and he's been called a "national obsession."
A recent tactic of the haterz has been to repost Serin's blog entries on sites like Blogspot-hosted "exurbanation"--arguably in violation of copyright law--in hopes of depriving him of advertising page views. "It's not right for them to continue ripping my posts and putting it in their comments and encouraging people to read it there," Serin said. He has threatened to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint with Google, which owns Blogspot, to try to force the deletion of his material.
A "heartbroken" wife left behind
One wildcard in the Casey Serin saga, which has played out on the Internet since iamfacingforeclosure.com launched last September, is whether Galina will leave her husband, who ran up $2.2 million in debt and lost five houses to foreclosure.
In a conversation at her sister's townhouse in early May, where the young couple rented two rooms, Galina said that she was becoming frustrated with her husband's spending and had met with her Baptist pastor that afternoon for counseling. But according to her strict religious views, Galina said, "there are only two reasons for a divorce: adultery and physical abuse."
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