How Uber secretly investigated its legal foes — and got caught

UberPasco

Well-Known Member
How Uber secretly investigated its legal foes — and got caught
Russell Brandom
MSN |
When a young labor lawyer named Andrew Schmidt first filed suit against Uber in December of last year, he couldn’t have predicted it would make him a target. Schmidt’s suit was a legal longshot, alleging that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick coordinated surge pricing in violation of anti-trust laws — but those legal arguments would soon be overshadowed by something much stranger.

A few weeks after the case was filed, Schmidt found out he was being investigated. According to a court declaration made by Schmidt and his colleagues, someone had called one of Schmidt’s lawyer friends in Colorado to ask some strange questions, claiming it was for a project "profiling up-and-coming labor lawyers in the US." What was the nature of his relationship with the plaintiff? Who was the driving force behind the lawsuit? Calls were also allegedly made to acquaintances of Schmidt’s client, Spencer Meyer, with a similar proposal to profile "up-and-coming researchers in environmental conservation."

Schmidt reached out to Kalanick’s lawyers, but they said Uber wasn’t involved, writing back, "whoever is behind these calls, it is not us."

A month later, those same lawyers called back to admit that wasn’t strictly true. Schmidt and his client were being investigated by a secretive research firm, staffed by veterans from the CIA and the National Security Council, conducting an investigation on behalf of Uber’s top executives. As soon as the lawsuit was filed, those executives took an interest in Schmidt and his client, sending out operatives to dig up what they could find on Uber’s new antagonists.

"A sensitive, very under-the-radar investigation."
That investigation has turned into a legal disaster for Uber, and the presiding judge has already ruled the evidence constitutes "a reasonable basis to suspect the perpetration of fraud." The result is a rare window into how one of the most powerful and litigious companies in the world responds to a major class-action lawsuit. As Uber continues to attract new lawsuits and accusations, the investigation into Schmidt and his colleagues shows just how far the company will go to defend its position, both inside and outside the courtroom.

According to internal Uber emails, the investigation began with a note from Uber’s general counsel, Sallie Yoo. The day that Schmidt filed the complaint against Kalanick, Yoo sent an email to Uber’s Chief Security Officer, saying, "could we find out a little more about this plaintiff?" The request was forwarded to the company’s head of Global Threat Intelligence, Mathew Henley.

By the end of the week, Henley was on the phone with a corporate research firm called Ergo, also known as Global Precision Research LLC, asking for help with "a sensitive, very under-the-radar investigation." After a few emails, Henley worked out the terms of the deal with an Ergo executive named Todd Egeland. It would be a "level two" investigation, the middle of the three levels of work offered by Ergo. It would be drawn from seven source interviews conducted over the course of ten days, for which Uber would pay $19,500. As with any Ergo investigation, the confidentiality of the client was paramount,and sources were never meant to know who was paying for the research. "We do quite a bit of this work for law firms," Egeland reassured him. (Ergo did not respond to requests for comment.)


© Provided by The Verge Uber emails w/ border
There was one other wrinkle, expanding the scope beyond Schmidt’s client to Schmidt himself. "I suggest that you may also wish for some details on the plaintiff’s relationship with the lawyer," Egeland wrote to Henley in one email. "They outwardly appear to be at least college, if not life-long, friends."

Henley approved the deal, writing back, "All looks good guys, thanks."

From there, the facts of the investigation become less clear. According to Schmidt and his team, Ergo contacted twenty-eight different friends or co-workers of the plaintiff, each time claiming to be looking for information on "up-and-coming researchers in environmental conservation" or something similarly vague. The plaintiffs say those claims were false, and could be grounds for fraud.

Uber was treading on dangerous ground by even commissioning the investigation, some experts say. "This is a very unusual situation and one that raises real risks," says Michael Volkov of the Volkov Law Group, who has written extensively on third-party due diligence. "Going around and conducting interviews of people associated with the case, who may become witnesses, is really unseemly."

It’s not uncommon for firms to do basic background research on a plaintiff or opposing counsel. Facebook engaged in a similar investigation with a firm called Kroll a 2011 case contesting Zuckerberg's ownership of the company, although no impropriety by the investigators was ever alleged. But that research is typically conducted through online searches and public records requests, and anything involving direct contact with possible parties to the case is seen as far more delicate. "Commissioning the investigation without meaningful guidance on how it is conducted shows either naivete or that they just did not care about complying with appropriate restrictions on such investigations," Volkov says.

"A serious risk of perverting the process of justice before this court."
The judge hearing Uber’s case appears to have agreed. On June 7th, Judge Rakoff ruled that Schmidt and his colleagues had shown enough evidence to provide a reasonable perception of fraud, giving plaintiffs the right to examine emails and other documents exchanged between Uber and Ergo. According to the ruling, Ergo’s investigation was "raising a serious risk of perverting the process of justice before this court." With that ruling, what began as an antitrust case has become a parallel case about exactly how far Ergo went, and how much Uber knew about it.

The implications go far beyond a single case. Uber is currently litigating 70 different federal lawsuits, which range from accusations of wage-theft to fundamental questions of worker classification. Any one of those cases could be a tempting target for third-party research firms like Ergo. According to a sworn deposition from an Ergo employee, this was the fourth time Uber hired the company for research, although it’s unclear whether the other cases involved an active trial. Given the volume of cases against Uber and the routine way in which the investigation was assigned, it’s plausible the company was contracting with other research firms.

It’s not the first time Uber has shown an appetite for researching the company’s critics. In a private dinner in 2014, Uber executive Emil Michael outlined a plan to spend a million dollars collecting opposition research on journalists who cover Uber unfavorably, suggesting the company could investigate "your personal lives, your families." Uber’s CEO later condemned the comments, and there’s no indication such a program was ever put into place.
[redacted for space. See more at link below.]
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/comp...t-caught/ar-BBu9SDK?li=AA4Zjn&ocid=spartandhp
 

tohunt4me

Well-Known Member
How Uber secretly investigated its legal foes — and got caught
Russell Brandom
MSN |
When a young labor lawyer named Andrew Schmidt first filed suit against Uber in December of last year, he couldn’t have predicted it would make him a target. Schmidt’s suit was a legal longshot, alleging that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick coordinated surge pricing in violation of anti-trust laws — but those legal arguments would soon be overshadowed by something much stranger.

A few weeks after the case was filed, Schmidt found out he was being investigated. According to a court declaration made by Schmidt and his colleagues, someone had called one of Schmidt’s lawyer friends in Colorado to ask some strange questions, claiming it was for a project "profiling up-and-coming labor lawyers in the US." What was the nature of his relationship with the plaintiff? Who was the driving force behind the lawsuit? Calls were also allegedly made to acquaintances of Schmidt’s client, Spencer Meyer, with a similar proposal to profile "up-and-coming researchers in environmental conservation."

Schmidt reached out to Kalanick’s lawyers, but they said Uber wasn’t involved, writing back, "whoever is behind these calls, it is not us."

A month later, those same lawyers called back to admit that wasn’t strictly true. Schmidt and his client were being investigated by a secretive research firm, staffed by veterans from the CIA and the National Security Council, conducting an investigation on behalf of Uber’s top executives. As soon as the lawsuit was filed, those executives took an interest in Schmidt and his client, sending out operatives to dig up what they could find on Uber’s new antagonists.

"A sensitive, very under-the-radar investigation."
That investigation has turned into a legal disaster for Uber, and the presiding judge has already ruled the evidence constitutes "a reasonable basis to suspect the perpetration of fraud." The result is a rare window into how one of the most powerful and litigious companies in the world responds to a major class-action lawsuit. As Uber continues to attract new lawsuits and accusations, the investigation into Schmidt and his colleagues shows just how far the company will go to defend its position, both inside and outside the courtroom.

According to internal Uber emails, the investigation began with a note from Uber’s general counsel, Sallie Yoo. The day that Schmidt filed the complaint against Kalanick, Yoo sent an email to Uber’s Chief Security Officer, saying, "could we find out a little more about this plaintiff?" The request was forwarded to the company’s head of Global Threat Intelligence, Mathew Henley.

By the end of the week, Henley was on the phone with a corporate research firm called Ergo, also known as Global Precision Research LLC, asking for help with "a sensitive, very under-the-radar investigation." After a few emails, Henley worked out the terms of the deal with an Ergo executive named Todd Egeland. It would be a "level two" investigation, the middle of the three levels of work offered by Ergo. It would be drawn from seven source interviews conducted over the course of ten days, for which Uber would pay $19,500. As with any Ergo investigation, the confidentiality of the client was paramount,and sources were never meant to know who was paying for the research. "We do quite a bit of this work for law firms," Egeland reassured him. (Ergo did not respond to requests for comment.)


© Provided by The Verge Uber emails w/ border
There was one other wrinkle, expanding the scope beyond Schmidt’s client to Schmidt himself. "I suggest that you may also wish for some details on the plaintiff’s relationship with the lawyer," Egeland wrote to Henley in one email. "They outwardly appear to be at least college, if not life-long, friends."

Henley approved the deal, writing back, "All looks good guys, thanks."

From there, the facts of the investigation become less clear. According to Schmidt and his team, Ergo contacted twenty-eight different friends or co-workers of the plaintiff, each time claiming to be looking for information on "up-and-coming researchers in environmental conservation" or something similarly vague. The plaintiffs say those claims were false, and could be grounds for fraud.

Uber was treading on dangerous ground by even commissioning the investigation, some experts say. "This is a very unusual situation and one that raises real risks," says Michael Volkov of the Volkov Law Group, who has written extensively on third-party due diligence. "Going around and conducting interviews of people associated with the case, who may become witnesses, is really unseemly."

It’s not uncommon for firms to do basic background research on a plaintiff or opposing counsel. Facebook engaged in a similar investigation with a firm called Kroll a 2011 case contesting Zuckerberg's ownership of the company, although no impropriety by the investigators was ever alleged. But that research is typically conducted through online searches and public records requests, and anything involving direct contact with possible parties to the case is seen as far more delicate. "Commissioning the investigation without meaningful guidance on how it is conducted shows either naivete or that they just did not care about complying with appropriate restrictions on such investigations," Volkov says.

"A serious risk of perverting the process of justice before this court."
The judge hearing Uber’s case appears to have agreed. On June 7th, Judge Rakoff ruled that Schmidt and his colleagues had shown enough evidence to provide a reasonable perception of fraud, giving plaintiffs the right to examine emails and other documents exchanged between Uber and Ergo. According to the ruling, Ergo’s investigation was "raising a serious risk of perverting the process of justice before this court." With that ruling, what began as an antitrust case has become a parallel case about exactly how far Ergo went, and how much Uber knew about it.

The implications go far beyond a single case. Uber is currently litigating 70 different federal lawsuits, which range from accusations of wage-theft to fundamental questions of worker classification. Any one of those cases could be a tempting target for third-party research firms like Ergo. According to a sworn deposition from an Ergo employee, this was the fourth time Uber hired the company for research, although it’s unclear whether the other cases involved an active trial. Given the volume of cases against Uber and the routine way in which the investigation was assigned, it’s plausible the company was contracting with other research firms.

It’s not the first time Uber has shown an appetite for researching the company’s critics. In a private dinner in 2014, Uber executive Emil Michael outlined a plan to spend a million dollars collecting opposition research on journalists who cover Uber unfavorably, suggesting the company could investigate "your personal lives, your families." Uber’s CEO later condemned the comments, and there’s no indication such a program was ever put into place.
[redacted for space. See more at link below.]
http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/how-uber-secretly-investigated-its-legal-foes-—-and-got-caught/ar-BBu9SDK?li=AA4Zjn&ocid=spartandhp
Even Perry Mason had a Private Investigator.one of my good friends is a P.I.
She mainly investigates fraudulent disability claims against the state and marriage/ fidelity cases.

All businesses use them.
 

trickynikki

Well-Known Member
All businesses use them? They were digging for dirt. Also Uber is using ex CIA and other types that are more into covert operations. Uber is a very dangerous company. But they like to claim they are peer to peer.
 

tohunt4me

Well-Known Member
All businesses use them? They were digging for dirt. Also Uber is using ex CIA and other types that are more into covert operations. Uber is a very dangerous company. But they like to claim they are peer to peer.
I have worked big oil and oil service related companies all of my life.
One of my favorite helicopter pilots was x CIA.
Global work.

If you want to know what a business competitor is doing, go to the bar closest to their office for a few weeks.

Tip the bartender,tip the waitress.
Buy a few rounds.
Sit back and listen..
Doesn't cost much.
 

trickynikki

Well-Known Member
I have worked big oil and oil service related companies all of my life.
One of my favorite helicopter pilots was x CIA.
Global work.

If you want to know what a business competitor is doing, go to the bar closest to their office for a few weeks.

Tip the bartender,tip the waitress.
Buy a few rounds.
Sit back and listen..
Doesn't cost much.
Uber was digging up dirt and got caught. The CIA hires many kinds of people. My guess is that the guys they are referring to are the ones who know how to get in and extract information by illegal means. These are not your normal private investigators. It is like hiring Black Water to do security at a shopping mall.
 

tohunt4me

Well-Known Member
Uber was digging up dirt and got caught. The CIA hires many kinds of people. My guess is that the guys they are referring to are the ones who know how to get in and extract information by illegal means. These are not your normal private investigators. It is like hiring Black Water to do security at a shopping mall.
We had Black water as security at the shopping mall also after Katrina in New Orleans.
They complained they were only making $300-$400 a day.
Wasn't actual combat most of the time. E.z. money.Blackwater is Academi now.
Wackenhut Global Security and their privatized prisons concern me much more.they ARE in your local shopping mall.

Large businesses protect their interests in many ways.
Information is valuable.

Even Abraxas/ Cubic Corp.
N.S.A. subcontractors.

Nobody gets a company retirement anymore !

A world of ' freelance' " independent contractors".

Common practice. Corporate intelligence gathering.
 

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