citylog
The E-
Edition:
CW
page
by page

Tumblr.jpg Google_Plus.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Home / Articles / News / Cover Story /  Conman.com Page 1
Cover Story

Conman.com Page 1

If cybersquatter Robert Paisola is the future of the Internet, then we’re all in big trouble.

By Stephen Dark
Posted // May 24,2007 - “Welcome to the wonderful world of Robert Paisola.”
The greeting was scrawled in red on a board in a conference room of a Salt Lake City office complex and storage unit site. Paisola, wearing an ever-ready smile, sat at a large round table, waiting.

Actually, the world of felon and alleged Internet cyberpirate Robert Paisola can be downright creepy. It seems the Internet—more so than patriotism—has become the last refuge of scoundrels.

I promised the manager of the building where Paisola and I met not to reveal the property’s name and address. She didn’t want to be associated with 39-year-old Paisola in print, especially after learning he claimed it as one of his offices. Nor did a self-described friend of his at the complex, who held up his hands at the mention of Paisola and walked away. One of Paisola’s relatives even begged via e-mail that his family not be brought into any story.

Paisola, however, wanted to talk—at least for our first and last interview. “I want front page,” he chanted.

So, for two and a half hours, we battled over the truth about Paisola, founder and Chief Executive Officer of a mysterious Utah company, Western Capital Group.

While Western Capital Financial, Inc. is a state-registered corporation, whether or not the company actually has offices or employees beyond Paisola and the Lehi condo he rents from a relative is debatable at best. Paisola’s court-documented criminal past, which includes convictions for insurance fraud, child pornography possession and false loan applications, is not.

Paisola considers the past behind him. “I simply draw a line and move forward,” he said. “That’s the way I am able to create what I create, the abundance in my life. I do so by being able to simply say, ‘That was then, and I’ve paid my price to society for the things I have done.’”

But, if such abundance exists, critics argue, it may come in part from Paisola soliciting fees on the Internet from people being pursued by debt collectors. He professes to be an expert on debt collection on his Website MyCollector.com, but doesn’t reveal that law enforcement agents shut down his first collection agency, and he went to jail for insurance fraud.

Which perfectly illustrates the true wonder of Paisola’s world: It’s built on an electronic version of the street-corner hustle, Three Card Monte. Apparently with plenty of time on his hands, Paisola endlessly shuffles and multiplies Web pages so you never know where the truth is hiding—or if it’s present at all.

Take Robert Paisola's Western Capitol Foundation. Its Web page says it promotes “criminal offender reform.” MSNBC even featured him as a prisoners' rights advocate in a news segment in February. Yet Paisola can’t cite a single prison he’s visited as an advocate or an ex-con he’s helped.

His publicist says he “is quickly becoming one of America’s eminent citizens, motivational speakers and success-training leaders.” But he would not provide a couple of clients to testify to the virtues of his programs.

Add to all this relentless puffery his pressuring of companies large and small with innuendo-strewn blogs and Websites and the overwhelming impression is of a man hiding his past from prying eyes with endless digital sleights of hand—even as he claws at your wallet.

Consider this a cautionary tale: Robert Paisola would like nothing better than to pull you into one of many scams, burrow under your skin and stay there.

BANNED TO JIFFY LUBE
Once I’d examined Paisola’s rap sheet and his conservatively estimated 15 Websites, one fact became startlingly clear: With so much personal information available on the Internet, it’s inevitable that the Paisolas of this world—with just a few minutes of research—can lob grenades packed with misleading information and innuendo at whomever they choose with little or no consequence to themselves.

But, if that was the impression I’d gained from studying Paisola before our interview, he had a different message to sell me. He was inspiring others through motivational speaking to learn from his example of building a future after leaving prison.

“I want to be very clear up front: I stand 100 percent accountable for everything that has happened in my past,” Paisola boomed upon my arrival. His criminal experiences “made me what I am today.” They’ve shown, he says, he can create change by inspiring others with his example. “[I don’t] just sit back and go … I’m a complete victim, I’ll never be able to overcome this, I’m forever banned to [working at] Jiffy Lube.”

Paisola’s concern with an ex-convict’s future being restricted to wiping dipsticks aside, I might have given him more of the benefit of the doubt about his supposed achievements, if, 10 minutes into the interview, he hadn’t whipped out a document bearing my name, my wife’s name, our old home phone number, my home address, and the previous countries I’ve lived in.

He said he’d been informed I was asking questions about him. Throwing that document in my face was his response. I told him how uncomfortable his blatant attempt at intimidation made me.

“Tell me how it feels,” Paisola demanded. “Describe it.”

He later deemed the personal invasion an object lesson in what it takes to be an investigative reporter in the era of the Internet and online information sources like LexisNexis. If journalism in the 1970s was about thorough editing, today, “Mrs. Jones who learns how to blog isn’t going to have checks and balances,” he said. “She’s mad at the milkman because he’s not delivering the milk. That’s where we are going.”

The Internet future Paisola posited, and indeed represents, is already a reality. Under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, the owner of a Website is not liable for what third parties write on it. So the Internet’s a free-for-all, one never-ending bathroom stall wall where you can scrawl whatever you want about someone you don’t like—and it will never go away.

But for Paisola, the Internet’s not just about instantaneous publication, regardless of veracity. Like a contemporary version of James Thurber’s eternal dreamer Walter Mitty—armed with a digital pen—Paisola has built a labyrinth of Websites and blogs detailing subsidiaries of his businesses and at least 10 supposed careers that speak volumes about his desire to reinvent himself.

The reinvention extends to his criminal past. When it comes to his child-porn-possession conviction, Paisola chooses to rewrite history, even as the consequences of that very crime pursue him into court.

The threat he poses, I discovered, is not only to livelihoods and reputations. He can also steal a person's innocence. Whether you’re a teenage girl in a small Texas town being questioned by local police because, unknowingly, you have a registered sex offender from Utah called Robert Paisola on your list of MySpace friends, or a journalist who thought his professional neutrality was a shield that could not be breached, no one, it seems, is immune.

The only thing he said that I felt I didn't need to confirm during 150 minutes filled with obfuscation and evasion was, “I guarantee you one thing: When you leave here, you will never, ever, ever forget this interview as long as you live.”

Continue reading: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Read All
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Post a comment
REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // August 5,2010 at 08:26

Why did this creep get banned from Utah ??? Happy this happened cuz I live in Utah but I wanna know why ????

 

Posted // August 5,2010 at 08:42 - All I know is that whenever I've talked to anyone "official" and his name is mentioned, I get an eye roll and comments like "Oh great what's he done now." or "Oh yes we are very familiar with Mr. Paisola." Not one person had anything good to say of him. Apparently the state saw it as a way to get them out of Utah's hair! Kind of sad but they didn't want to deal with him anymore. Just glad he has no opportunity to be around my kids!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // July 12,2010 at 21:50

He is now praying on innocent women. There is one lady that I know who feels she had been cheated by this one site when she clearly violated the site rules and now this Robert is trying to back her up with false accusations and threats to this site. I wish someone would really put him back in jail and stop allowing him to get away with such nonsense!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 24,2010 at 23:36

I've had it confirmed that the reason Mr. Paisola was "permantly removed" from the Utah Sex Offenders list FOREVER is because he has been banned from the state of Utah. If you can't live in the state you won't be on the list!! Hello....and this is the truth. Mr. Paisola...don't act like you got away with something like you're ACTUALLY innocent. If you see him in the state of Utah, take a picture and contact the authorities. He will be thrown in jail!!!

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 15,2010 at 18:13

great job exposing this miscreant,

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // September 17,2009 at 14:12

Robert Paisola is the worst kind of creepy criminal our society has seen in a while .... his disgusting tactics at getting what he wants sickens me .....

Great story Mr. Dark !!!!! keep up he good work

VeryMad