In one of the most – if not the most – ridiculous and tragic situations I’ve ever witnessed, a professional blogger and “social media expert”, Neely Moldovan and her husband Andrew (who works as the IT security engineer for the Federal Bank in Dallas) colluded in an elaborate and coordinated effort to disparage, attack and destroy the reputation of the owner of their wedding photography studio on the news media and review sites. The damage was widespread and immediate: Neely Moldovan’s blog traffic (and income) skyrocketed, while Andrea Polito’s once thriving photography business was completely destroyed literally overnight. (It was grossing a yearly average of $700,000 for the past nine years – making her one the most successful studios in the Dallas area) Over nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The couple contacted an NBC’s Dallas affiliate news reporter, Scott Gordon (Scott Gordon has declined requests to comment) regarding a plight over their wedding images that simply did not exist. The result was a one sided and inaccurate NBC-DFW news broadcast that was seen by 350,000 people where the reporter stated that the couple’s images were being held “hostage” by Andrea Polito’s company because they would not pay $125 for a wedding cover. Scott Gordon reached out to Andrea after he had already interviewed the Moldovans. Andrea was out of town for business so responded with a lengthy, friendly email explaining the situation. Scott Gordon replied “I will do my best to sum up your position to give your side of the story. I will also point out that you declined an on-camera interview.” Scott Gordon on air blurred out Andrea’s entire email statement leaving only the very last sentence visible by the audience leaving Andrea without a sliver of a chance for credibility. Immediately following the airing of the story Neely posted on her social media accounts “Justice was served” and “pretty sure her business is done”.
The attacks on all of Andrea’s review sites immediately piled on. On YELP the reviews were out of control –calling her a cheater and a scammer and going to the point of a claim that Andrea was spreading AIDS and photos were just OK. Andrea Polito Photography’s Facebook business page, Wedding Wire, and The Knot accounts were slaughtered with awful comments, links to the NBC story, and one star reviews from friends of the couple calling her a scamming scum. Another post on Neely’s social media inferred that Andrea should be killed. So fucking ridiculous.
Disappointingly, the Daily UK and the photo blog sites piled on the damage, taking Scott Gordon’s report as accurate. Petapixel, DIY, Scott Kelby, all broadcast this faux news piece intensifying the damage. Reportedly, Scott Kelby’s published the article on his page where the most damaging comments collected below.
Andrea published an”OPEN LETTER” with her side of the story that also went viral (was read more than 2 million times in over 195 countries), resulting in many of the news outlets also re-publishing her open letter. (as of this date, according to Polito – none have published retractions) apparently Kelby took it down, but never published a retraction or correction.
The appeals court gives a VERY ominous warning to publications that publish defamatory comments derived from other sources. From my vantage point, Polito has a number of additional lawsuits she can file as a result of this advice from the court:
Below are excerpts from the appeal, showing examples of the misconduct leading to the complaint.
Andrea Polito and her company are suing the Moldovan’s for $1 million dollars for multiple counts. Seeing that there is a jury trial demand, and based on what the appeals court wrote in their opinion, I see a potential for the award being much more. The appeals court cleared way for the couple to be found liable for defamation per se vs defamation per quod, allowing them to add special damages on top of actual damages. In front of an emotional jury the sky is the limit.
I will be interviewing Andrea next week, live, on my YouTube channel. I’ve spoken to her at length about what havoc and destruction the Moldovans have caused to her and her family. Legal expenses have reached over 100k and I will be setting up a gofundme to help Andrea with her legal expenses.
Social media defamation and shaming is something we all need to be aware of and fight together. Andrea has been fighting for all of us, for every business owner, every entrepreneur, and every photographer. If we can show the world how accountable you can be by deliberately damaging someone’s professional reputation online, maybe the next Moldovans will think twice before embarking on such a conquest.
Andrea is flying up next week to our sound stage here at the Film Factory to be interviewed in a documentary about this case.
If you want to read the court’s written order, click here.