The economics of Hoaxtead: How hoaxers make money from pain

In yesterday’s post, which featured a couple of delightfully bitchy emails between Belinda McKenzie and Charlotte Ward, Belinda made a statement which puzzled some of our readers.

Describing the Association of McKenzie Friends, which Belinda and Sabine founded together in 2011, Belinda said,

We’ve never charged a penny to anyone we’ve tried to help in the 7 years we’ve been active nor demanded anything back. We are the archetypal McKenzie Friends = REAL FRIENDS to people in dire trouble and it doesn’t get much worse than being hauled up before the UK High Court!

Reader Vincent de Paul asked whether this statement was true.

On the face of it, Belinda is not lying: the Association of McKenzie Friends does not charge its clients for their services. In that sense, they offer a “free” service…but a bit of deeper digging reveals a darker picture.

First, we should point out that Belinda and Sabine act as McKenzie Friends only to people whose cases have reached an impasse in the Family Courts.

Under the guise of their various protests against serious issues such as forced adoption, Belinda and Sabine have the perfect excuse to hang about outside the Royal Courts of Justice—coincidentally, the Family Division of the RCJ is where one is most likely to find people with the most complex and difficult court cases.

These are people in desperate straits, for one reason or another: perhaps, like the Musa family, they have abused their children with such severity that they are likely to have their children removed and face prison sentences; or like Melissa Laird, they have neglected their child to the point where the courts have decided there is no way to rehabilitate the family, and have not only removed the child but sent the mother back to the United States.

Murmuring words of encouragement like, “You’re being victimised by the evil court system”, and “It’s not your fault, it’s the corrupt judges who want to snatch your children from you”, Belinda and Sabine zero in on their victims. They claim to be able to help, as they and they alone understand the fundamental rot at the heart of the system, and they alone have the knowledge and dedication to fight for their clients.

We should point out that Sabine and Belinda have never yet participated as McKenzie friends in a winning case, a fact which they blame on (you guessed it!) the corrupt system.

So if they don’t charge a fee, and they never win, why do they bother with the McKenzie Friend charade at all?

It seems like a losing proposition, until you understand that their goal has never been to win cases. Their motive is to “prove” the validity of their various mad conspiracy theories via the clients whose cases they exploit.

This gives them the hook they need: claiming to be “fighting for the rights of downtrodden parents to keep their children”, and acting as David to the Goliath of the family court system, they now have an excuse to ask their many supporters for donations for the cause.

Beyond the Donate! button

We’ve spoken before about the ubiquitous “Donate here!” buttons on all of their blogs, but those buttons, it seems, are merely the icing on a much larger cake. While they may dredge up a few pounds per post via button clicks, the real money lies elsewhere.

First, both Belinda and Sabine run extensive email lists, which they use to drum up money from the faithful, out of view of the internet where they might be asked inconvenient questions.

While emails might seem an antiquated method in these days of social media, in fact email solicitation is still a very profitable means of drumming up donations. Potential donors on the receiving end of an email from Belinda or Sabine feel as though they are part of an elite group, and indeed they are: they are the chosen elect. Having donated in the past, they are very likely to continue doing so, and Belinda and Sabine know the precise language to use to squeeze every last tuppence out of them.

We’ve seen a few examples of these emails, and they are masterful at playing on donors’ emotions. Phrases like “in the worst-case scenario, that we lose, we/I could be stung for massive costs, enough to lose me my house… (Sabine is OK because she’s penniless)” help reinforce the idea that Sabine and Belinda are selfless campaigners, willing to risk it all for the sake of their principles. Who could fail to be moved enough to donate to them?

If you’ve ever wondered why Sabine and Belinda seem to be so mad about petitions, it’s this: when people sign petitions, they hand over their names and email addresses. They are considered to have “raised their hands” in favour of whichever cause the petition supports, and their personal information is duly harvested and added to the email lists maintained by Sabine and Belinda.

But there’s more…

Another way bloggers can make money, even without the use of donation buttons or extensive email lists, is via website monetisation with pay-per-click widgets.

These widgets (basically a small piece of code installed on a blog) link to Google AdSense, and pay blog owners a small amount each time a reader clicks on a particular link to another blog. Very popular links equal bigger payouts. Should a subject go viral, as the Hampstead hoax did, owners of blogs which are linked in this way could expect rather handsome payouts.

We’re grateful to Outlaw Jimmy for pointing this out back in March 2015. He noted that in mid-March of that year, a commenter on the never-ending David Icke forum Hampstead thread stated,

What is the relationship between Sabine McNeill and the Tap Blog, who first ran with the story and have continued unabated? Crimes of Empire site are in on it too, and many others. Most of the “donate free” sites are affiliated with DONATE NOW sites and must be making money out of gullible people with this story. Why does “Getoutofdebtfree” and others for example have links to the Hampstead Child abuse story? Look at the comments section of the Tap Blog about the protest tomorrow at the school in Hampstead. Are these people stupid or part of the corrupt system?

Arrangements such as this play upon the fact that when troofers latch onto a promising story, they will click links obsessively in attempts to “research” it…and if the blogs featuring that story play their cards…er, their widgets right, everyone wins. Well, everyone except the innocent people named in the hoax, who must cope with its fallout for years to come.

Interestingly, Outlaw Jimmy points out that Sabine directly suggested to Henry Curteis of the Tap Blog that he might wish to use a pay-per-click widget. In the comments section of a Hampstead hoax-related post, she wrote, “BTW, how large is the number of hits / visitors you’re getting? Don’t you want to put that widget out and all be proud together?” This helps explain, too, the large number of blogs which Sabine maintains, and the relentless cross-posting she does from one to the other. While her page-views on each individual blog are nothing to write home about, if she was using a pay-per-click widget when the Hampstead hoax was at the height of its internet popularity, she and her friends at the larger and more popular blogs would have been pulling down a significant amount of money.

When we look at the larger picture of how the Hampstead hoax was used as a magic online money generator, it becomes very clear that this was never really about “saving the children” from the imaginary cult. Rather, it was about the unimaginably vast number of clicks that could be generated by concerned but gullible troofers, being manipulated by a few clever blog owners who are in it for the pay.

157 thoughts on “The economics of Hoaxtead: How hoaxers make money from pain

  1. Excellent analysis, EC.

    What a pair of money-grabbing lowlifes. Bleurgh!

    By the way, you mention that they’ve never won a case. This has come up once or twice before. I’m no expert but do I recall that someone here made the point that as a McKenzie friend you don’t win or lose cases per se, as that’s down to your legal representative, whereas a McKenzie friend is there for moral support etc. (or in Belinda and Sabine’s case, to wreck any chance you have of winning).

    Either way, I think I’d rather have Lieutenant George representing me that those two clowns!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is an interesting overview of the a McKenzie friend:

    “Can I act as a McKenzie Friend?

    If you are self-employed, you are able to act as a McKenzie Friend. This means you can take notes, offer advice and prompt responses to answers. It does not mean you can address the Court directly.

    A McKenzie Friend does not have a right to conduct litigation or exercise a right of audience. The court may grant those rights in individual cases, but it is unlikely to do so.

    As a McKenzie friend you can charge your client for your assistance. However, any costs claimed from the opposing party, if the claim is successful, are limited by the Civil Procedure Rules, to litigant in person costs.

    If a court authorises a McKenzie friend to conduct litigation or exercise a right of audience, costs are not recoverable from the opposing party. You must make this clear to your clients.

    If your question is not answered, you can contact us by e-mailing practiceadvice@cilex.org.uk and we will endeavour to contact you within three working days.”

    https://www.cilex.org.uk/membership/practice_advice/mckenzie_friend

    I must admit I didn’t know the part about having to be self-employed. Is that simply due to the need to be available for court dates, I wonder?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes, I’d nearly forgotten about that article from the Outlaw, when I ran across it while looking through some of the excellent updates Scarlet has been doing lately. I think Jimmy hit the nail square on the head, long before most.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Thanks for this, SN. Yes, I would think that being self-employed would be the only way to ensure a McKenzie friend could be consistently available. If anyone knows of other reasons, feel free to chime in!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I think it’s pretty devious of Belinda to claim, as I’ve seen/heard her do on numerous occasions, to “represent the Association of McKenzie Freinds”.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/10775631/Costs-ruling-in-family-court-penalises-those-helping-wronged-parents.html

    To the unsuspecting average person on the street, they would take that to mean that she’s some kind of official representative of McKenzie friends and that her organisation is an official representative body, when in fact she’s just exploiting her rather fortunate surname.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. http://childprotectionresource.online/tag/belinda-mckenzie/

    An excerpt from the site above:

    This goes to the heart of concerns expressed about MKF by me via the CPR site. There is a small but significant group of people who purport to be MKF but who act in ways that are extremely damaging to the LiPs interest in family court proceedings. This is largely due to the belief expressed by these individuals that the family justice system is corrupt and, for example, operates according to ‘targets’ to steal children from loving families. [For further discussion of that issue, see our post on ‘Forced Adoption’]

    These individuals not only cause distress and damage to the individuals unlucky enough to receive their assistance, cause public money and court time to be wasted, but also have a much wider and chilling impact on public confidence in the system due to their additional activities of campaigning, both on the street and via the internet.

    “For example, note the hearing in February 2016 reported in the Law Society Gazette that Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie avoided incurring costs of £2,000 for their misconceived application for judicial review within care proceedings. Both are heavily involved in other family cases where their attempts to assist parties have had negative consequences for both the individual and the proceedings. See for example the judgement of Mrs Justice Pauffley in the case of re P and Q (Children: Care Proceedings: Fact Finding) [2015] EWFC 26 (Fam), where the negative impact of the activities of McNeill and McKenzie in promoting false allegations of ritual santanic abuse, spread to the wider Hampstead community.

    They are not the only ones whose activities cause me serious concern, but they are among the most prolific.”

    Remark by Mrs. Justice Simler in the Melissa Laird case about Sabine & Belinda:

    “It seems to be me they did significantly step outside the limits of their role as McKenzie friends. They also appear to have been pursing the case for their own campaigning purposes. They had their own personal interests as members of the Association of McKenzie Friends in the litigation, which was not in the claimant’s own interest”.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. And the consultation on reforming the courts approach to MKF is still unresolved – due to the high levels of response and views expressed. Strong representations were made on the potential for abuse of process, highlighting those whose relentless intent is to exploit vulnerable litigants for their own activism: the massive disservice to those they represent.. I’m sure things will change as clearly it is counter productive for the courts and justice to expose litigants to untrained, unregulated and potentially exploitative MKF. There are of course good ones!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I agree. It is slippery but this is what they do. Borrow credibility from similar and official sounding organisations, The Knight Foundation another example.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. It’s another cracking post. On the money points, there does seem to be rather murky territory around the not for profit or charity or what ever entity they are (if anything legal) on not charging but then agreeing a donation, which may be billed. IMO there should really be a ban on exploitative fundraising and the setting up of fake charities around cases in the family court – as well as monetising online.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Yes, I think they are operating in a bit of a grey area. While it might not be strictly illegal, one does question the ethics of using clients as bait to attract donations from others. Online monetisation, likewise, isn’t illegal. But deliberately creating a viral campaign (and they intended from the beginning that it would be one), and setting up sites with links to profit from that? Immoral at least, profiteering at worst.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Yes, one thing that has surprised me throughout this is that the reputable, legitimate MKFs don’t seem to have spoken out against the charlatans. I know that if the reputation of my profession were in danger due to some bad apples, I’d be making one hell of a din about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. We’ve heard nothing further about this aspect, Sheva. Frankly, the Charities Commission does seem to be less than proactive when it comes to this sort of thing.

    Like

  13. I remember Belinda asking people to contact her using conventional mail. It struck me that using that medium would be an ideal way for her to identify suitable targets.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Well that load of old nonsense didn’t take off, least I never heard it did.

    As for Empowerment Sunday in line with Empowerment Mondays, run by that Rape Apologist Caul Silford Grant. That had it’s day several years ago, in fact by March 2015 I think it had run it’s course.

    And what did that ever achieve?

    Four of them up in court, including the vile Caul Grant for holding up London traffic on the zebra crossing outside the RCJ for around 10 minutes and him a Serco Traffic Warden Supervisor!

    Shocking but then he did get the job after his imprisonment for trafficking large quantities of cannabis I believe into England.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. That’s it, John. Give Eddie the “equity lawyer” a call and tell him how you’ve been sending out race hate speech, defamatory, abusive emails and vile death threats several times a day to dozens of people for the last year, and that your intended victims have reacted by…er…laughing at you. Good luck with that, Diddums 😂

    Liked by 5 people

  16. As indeed there are extremely bad ones , might I suggest Terrence Ewing buisiness associate of mass paedophile Roger gleaves and fraudster in his own right

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Judges throw out rogue appeal over SRA compensation ruling
    By The Lawyer 19 May 2008 08:54

    The Law Society’s regulatory arm has managed to stave off a High Court challenge by Edward Ellis, the name partner of Folkestone based firm Ellis & Jessup.

    Ellis brought proceedings against the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) after its tribunal held that he had not reached the standard that his client, FM, could reasonably expect in relation to dealings with her mother’s estate in 2002.

    The tribunal directed that Ellis pay the client £2,000 in compensation, in addition to limiting the costs owed by the estate.

    Ellis challenged the ruling, stating in a letter dated 8 June 2005: “The decision to make consumer complaints a legal process was not reasonable by objective standards.”

    However, after the Law Society adjudicator upheld the tribunal’s ruling, Ellis sought to bring a judicial review of the case, challenging the integrity of The Law Society to force him to compensate his client.

    Ellis issued a 35-page document, entitled “The balance of the constitution of England and Wales”, outlining his complaint and raising a series of allegations of corruption against the judiciary.

    But Lord Justice Leveson held that these arguments were “wholly incomprehensible” and refused the case any further appeals.

    When asked to produce evidence to substantiate his claims by Judge Bennett in December 2005, Ellis failed to produce any documentation. Having failed to compensate his client, the Law Society referred Ellis’s case to its Interventions and Disciplinary Unit for further investigation.

    In Leveson LJ’s damning judgment, he held that the unit found that Ellis’s actions brought the legal profession into disrepute. This observation was also supported by Mr Justice Lloyd Jones. This resulted in the High Court appeal being dismissed.

    Ellis represented himself, while the Law Society’s regulatory arm the SRA instructed solicitor – advocate Iain Miller of Bevan Brittan.

    https://www.thelawyer.com/issues/19-may-2008/judges-throw-out-rogue-appeal-over-sra-compensation-ruling

    You’re in good hands there then, John 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  18. What a disgusting money grabbing underhanded person Sabine is. If she generates money via links with her ‘widget’, she must be raking in the £’s! On one of her pages I found at least 59 links.

    I have often wondered why she did that as it is very confusing but now I see why! Of course when someone clicks one link, then goes back, clicks another, etc., they inevitably end up quite lost, continue to click links to get back to the where they have been reading & try to follow the plot & end up clicking hundreds of times!

    She’s not so green as she’s cabbage looking!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. He seriously needs to work on his act and get some new material, especially if I’m gonna book him for my nephew’s Bah Mitzvah.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Plus as has been previously mentioned, Praterson doesn’t have anything like 5,000 followers 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Some people are flat, so he might have a point. Maybe he is right. Maybe we’re not on a spinning ball.

    RESEARCH FLAT STANLEY AND YOU MIGHT BE FREE FROM YOUR INDOCTRINATION AND BRAINWASHING YOU HAD WHEN YOU WAS A BABY!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. What a creepy campaign that would have been. In a way it’s a pity that Stupid Sabine didn’t pull it off as the tabloids would have ripped her to shreds.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. same old same old psychiatrically challenged people, is this supposed to be in the name of stopping child abuse, I wouldn’t let any of these people within a million miles of any children

    Liked by 3 people

  24. The Charities Commission are not fit for the purpose. They are simply not resourced to investigate charities, since their main purpose is actually to provide comfortable jobs for quangocrats, and not make sure that charities are properly and ethically managed.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Thanks, Jake. Turns out I’m way behind on this, though. That nice Mr. Coyote had this one pegged some time ago, it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. How the fuck is that a “good comment” by Mark Fisher, Kristie Sue, you complete and uttter bellend? Soldiers die of exhaustion if they don’t get enough blood to drink? What the bloody hell’s going on around here? Pull yourself together, you sad lonely old bint.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. It’s true, TN, yet another cracking post! I continue to be entertained by this little blog.

    Abe said Belinda wanted him to meet her at the Russian Embassy in order to help her access monies set aside to help Russian nationals, in trouble in the UK. For legal expenses, or something like that. It was one of Code2222’s interviews with Abrella.

    Looking for that video, I found this, it kind of hurts, the memories of this horrible little man and his sick ideas, and the mother, unbelievable. Sooooo stoned.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Wow. Kris as a “Researcher” seems to have chosen this video for a title. I lasted 15 minutes into this video. I can’t be arsed to go into how seriously dumb this is.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I’m not sure about the self-employed angle either. It doesn’t seem quite right. MKF could be family or friend offering one-off assistance or volunteer assistance from a charity or institution to along to fee charging ranging from £30 – £130 p/h. I think being self-employed is specific to legal execs, as the article is targeted.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Completely agree PA. It has been going through reform though and if I recall correctly has been giving more investigative powers. There’s a list of investigations but I couldn’t see anything there on AMF.
    Hope the link works, if anyone is interested … probably find they have a loop hole in not being a legal entity or registered charity or something.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statements-on-live-cases-charity-commission#statements-released-in-2016

    Liked by 1 person

  31. “I have just again contacted Sussex Police, they have advised me to take legal action through my lawyer Edward Ellis….”

    Translation: The police told him to sod off, if he wants to make a complaint against us it’ll have to be in the form of a private lawsuit. Those cost £10,000 just to enter the game, and no lawyer would take it on, as we have always remained well within the bounds of fair comment. He’s angry because we quote his nasty death threats, he can do the obvious thing and stop sending death threats.

    Sheesh, these troofers. You have to lead them by the bloody hand.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. It’s possible she’s telling the truth and that’s why she’s so obsessed with it.

    She needs help so she can start to think logically and move on.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Her irrational belief in utter nonsense, is at complete odds with any genuine survivor or anti child-abuse campaigner. No victim of child abuse could watch the videos Abe and Ella made and think they are genuine.
    These people just reveal themselves as frauds by promoting these hoaxes.

    Liked by 4 people

  34. Completely unethical and irresponsible EC. I vaguely remember at one point they were gearing up to sell videos/interviews, etc. I wonder how many tshirts they sold for McKenzies angels…

    Liked by 3 people

  35. I agree completely that it’s unethical and irresponsible, but whether it’s prohibited by law seems doubtful. There are clearly some points of law around this which ought to be addressed and cleaned up.

    Like

  36. Poor old Rob – no one’s giving him any attention. Bless

    From: Robert Green
    Sent: 22 November 2017 15:19
    To: leader@labour.org.uk
    Subject: Kate Green MP
    Dear Mr Corbyn,

    With regard to my previous email, the situation regarding Kate Green seems to be escalating, as you may see from the attached information.

    It is not a question of standing up for David Icke. He is perfectly capable of standing up for himself. However, it is beyond doubt that he does not espouse racism nor violence and the speech that he was to make was at a private function where those who did not want to hear Mr Icke`s opinions need not attend.

    It is the attack on freedom of expression by your colleague that is truly astonishing, given her support for what is generally thought of as a far-right organisation and one of which many Jewish people heartily disapprove.

    I have been in touch with Fatima, a very helpful lady at your office, concerning rumours that you were going to make a public statement about Ms Green`s conduct. Fatima has passed on my details to the Press Office, but no response has yet been received.

    Of course, I would have no wish to misrepresent your position in any way, but Ms Green`s behaviour would seem to conflict with all the honourable and democratic principles for which the Labour Party has long stood.

    My phone number is 01925 602389, should any of your team wish to clarify the situation with me directly.

    Yours sincerely,

    Robert Green

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Paedogilvy’s take on Praterson’s repeated demands that we call him on the number he’s repeatedly given us in between his barrage of death threats (death threats which Paedogilvy “accidentally forgets” to mention in his rant about, er, harassment – oops!):

    So no misdirection or truth-twisting there, then 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  38. So he’s now claiming credit for the Paradise Papers despite the incredibly clever real journalists at the ICIJ who co-ordinated around 300 journalists world-wide to work on the project but alas, no John Paterson appears on the list.
    Seems he is oblivious to the fact his profiles and videos keep getting removed because of his utterly vile racism and antisemitism who in his case is particularity virulent.
    But good of him to let us know he is now prepping up the goose Andy Devine to spread the hate.

    Like

  39. Plus my call was at 10:16. Reasonable time as far as I’m concerned, though Malky was probably still tucked up in bed.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Yes that’s what armies do isn’t it? Send out their soldiers high on drugs knowing they are expendable because they can just recruit more and more and no survivor will ever warn prospective infantry members about this elusive drug.
    Despite the dire situation of real Vets in the USA who aren’t treated fairly not one has ever mentioned this drug.

    What happened before the internet? It’s quite creepy to think these easily influenced crazies were still that way before the arrival of scumbags like David Icke to fill their twisted brains full of inflammatory nonsense.

    Like

  41. The Esteemed Committee of the Koala Stamp Awards have been overwhelmed and swamped in recent weeks. They hope to present several awards at a glittering ceremony very soon which will take place in my mind any day now.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. “it’s probably only one or two of these fat useless cunts who post under fake names” coming from a fat-nosed cunt who keeps boasting about all the fakes names he uses.
    “Fraud Watch Network”..LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Hey, Wesley.. the evil creatures harassing and stalking the people of Hampstead will face justice.

    I put my life on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Sadly he lacks the finesse and Irish charm of the late Patrick Cullinane. I’m not sure he would be suitable for a 14 year old’s celebrations and quite frankly, would you really allow him around other children?

    Perhaps he could be put to work in the kitchen under the watchful eye of a Mashgiach as Kosher food is prepared. That would really do his head in.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. So Jake is now “pursuing authorities, Police, Social Services and charities” ?

    Not long until he’s Sectioned again, I think..

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Yes, Kris.. and the Hampstead children also told us all you quoted was what the abusive Abraham Christie told them to say, you nasty woman.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. 3rd time and he won’t be coming out any time soon. Must want to spend Christmas and New Year locked up like his pal Rupert.

    Has the Jake even asked Ella if she wants the 2 children back? I don’t think so!

    I don’t see any indication that she does and I think Social Services would at least need a phone number to speak to her about that. Of course they won’t be.

    Jake seems to be on a roll lately, he was at a West London CSA meeting last Saturday so he says.

    I think now he is getting disability money he is able to travel about a lot more and I expect he will be handing out his flyers today, Thursday near Downing Street.

    Surely that’s not what the cash is meant to be spent on, it’s making his problems worse…

    Like

  48. Great post as always EC. Very interesting to learn about how money can be made by the use of the links posted.

    Like

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