Writers to make a move against Indian business man for ‘deceiving’ Google

Two respected former Wall Street Journal Journalist have announced they will take legal action against Indian businessman Gaurav Srivastava for lying to the search engine Google.

Srivastava is allegedly using false pretenses to force Google to de-index a story that exposed him as a conman and fraudster who abused the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s name to defraud a Dutch oil trader.

Bradley Hope, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Tom Wright, a Pulitzer Prize nominee, published an investigative story on their website Project Brazen — Whalehunting, which describes itself as “the ultimate destination for fearless journalism”, revealing how Srivastava posed as an operative of America’s main spy outfit, the CIA, to run an international scam on the Geneva-based Dutch oil trader Niels Troost.

It was revealed that Srivastava used a creative lie to complain to Google that the award-winning investigative journalism site had stolen the contents of a story on Srivastava from another blog site.

By using Google’s copyright policy to his advantage, Srivastava used a fraudulent technique to get the story on himself de-indexed, according to the journalists.

This involved pasting the article’s text into a blog post on hosting sites Tumblr or Medium and then back-dating the posts, making them appear to have been published earlier than the Project Brazen article. Srivastava then used aliases or fake names to file a copyright complaint to Google to de-index the articles.

The investigative journalism site said: “We’re going to contest this fraudulent takedown request to make sure our story appears on search engines again.”

Bradley Hope said: “We don’t know who put up the fake claim but it was somebody who didn’t want others to read our expose. We have complained to Google.”

One of the reporters on the investigative story, Soobin Kim, tweeted: “Our @WhaleHunting_ story was removed from Google’s indexes due to copyright complaints. The complaints, saved on @lumendatabase, claim that we copied a backdated blog post, all content of which was lifted from our story. This is how fraudsters curate their online reputation.”

Project Brazen from its official verified handle revealed the full scale of shocking fraud run on Google by Gaurav Srivastava to remove his expose from Google.

In a thread on social media site X, it said: “Our @WhaleHunting_ team recently reported on an alleged serial con man named Gaurav Srivastava, who masquerades as a CIA operative to swindle gullible business owners. Less than a month after the story ran, it disappeared from Google’s indexes. Instead, there was a note saying that search results had been removed due to complaints.

“On @lumendatabase, which collects online content removal notices, we found two complaints submitted to Google by someone named Sherrie Hagen, claiming that our story had infringed the copyright of a blog post on Tumblr.

“The post purporting to be the original had republished the text from the public preview of our story on @WhaleHunting_ , word for word. It was backdated to Oct 8th, two days before our date of publication, but the blog’s archive reveals that it was actually posted sometime in Nov.”

This US-based Sherrie Hagen in fact filed four copyright complaints to Google in November 2023, with one complaint claiming she was based in the UK. The Tumblr blog post that was apparently the original source of this information has now been altered to a completely different story – a move that leaves little online trace of reports on Srivastava’s fraudulent activity.

“Our @WhaleHunting_ team reviewed multiple court documents, transcripts, correspondences and more to report and write this story, which the blog claims as its own in the complaints submitted to @Google to get it de-indexed. It even lifted the image made by @ProjectBrazen’s creative director – a photo of Gaurav Srivastava with swords in the background, inspired by the ceremonial swords he pretends to have received from various heads of state, when he actually bought them for himself.”

“When you google “Gaurav Srivastava”, you can only find fawning articles that he likely paid for calling him a “philanthropist” and a “loving parent.” This is a glaring example of how copyright laws are abused to launder the reputations of fraudsters, and bury damning information.”

Tumblr confirmed in a statement its platform was misused.

The blogging site said: “We can confirm the blog has been removed from Tumblr for violating our Community Guidelines. Tumblr and Automattic take legitimate copyright protection very seriously. We take great care to protect our users from fraudulent or otherwise invalid takedown notices, and similarly we have a zero tolerance policy for blogs using our services to abuse the DMCA.”

According to the Project Brazen investigation, Niels Troost was introduced in the summer of 2022 by a mutual contact to Gaurav Kumar Srivastava, who pretended to be very well connected with the Washington power circles and also to the country’s main spy agency – the CIA. At that time, the oil trader was in a state of growing panic as someone purporting to be a US government informant had falsely led him to believe that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating him and his commodities-trading company headquartered in Switzerland, Paramount Energy & Commodities SA.

Troost asked Gaurav Srivastava for help. Srivastava assured him that he would deal with the FBI and led Troost to believe he was a “non-official cover” or NOC (pronounced “knock”) for the CIA, operating at the senior level amongst a total of 30 NOCs around the world. Srivastava put forth a dubious proposition: if Troost could make Srivastava a partner in the business, by moving 50% of the shares of Paramount to a Delaware-incorporated company controlled by Srivastava, and domicile Paramount into the US, Troost would then be safe as part of a state-approved network to collect intelligence on behalf of the US. Srivastava stipulated that the transfer must take place through the US law firm BakerHostetler.

An LA-based partner at the law firm, Jeffrey P. Berg, was a business partner of Srivastava in a separate venture and appears to have played a central role in this fraudulent endeavour.

As his engagement with the Indian businessman continued, Troost had rising doubts about Srivastava’s bona fides. Srivastava made tall claims about his CIA and FBI connections but was unable to show any evidence of his influence, making Troost increasingly uneasy.

According to legal papers, it was in April 2023 that Troost hired investigators to perform due diligence on Srivastava and discovered a chilling history of fraud suits and unpaid bills over several years.

Seeing the intelligence reports of Srivastava’s alleged fraud, Troost realized that Srivastava had no connections with the CIA and that he was only a huckster who cobbled together false stories to feign an air of importance, exclusivity, and impunity. Srivastava’s fraudulent scheme broke down on May 10, 2023, and is now subject to legal action.

Srivastava didn’t respond to questions.

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