Shawn Hogan, back in the early 2000's was known by his company, like I was/am, named DigitalPoint. He and I joined the same circles in the SEO community back in the very early 2000s. We both ran software companies, I as a consulting firm, him more as building out software for ISPs to bill clients.
But what got him in trouble was his work as an eBay affiliate.
eBay's Top Affiliate Marketer Was Just Sentenced To Federal Prison from Business Insider reports Shawn is going to prison for 5 months for "defrauding eBay of an alleged $28 million in online marketing fees."
The case has been going on a while and Shawn says eBay's affiliate team encouraged him, according to the reports. That being said, Shawn posted in his DigitalPoint Forums that he decided to settle. He wrote:
I've spent millions in legal fees over the last 7 years, and taking both the criminal and civil stuff to trial would have cost many millions more. So I look at it this way... I'm not sure we would have lost the case had it gone to trial, but there's no guarantee. It's cheaper to settle/take a plea deal, and not have to worry about something crazy happening in a trial where a jury feels like they are doing you a "favor" and fine you $10M restitution and put you in prison for 10 years.
When the option presents itself to do a global settlement that ends the criminal and civil suit, spend a few months at prison camp, well... it's something you will seriously consider regardless if you think you could have prevailed in the civil or criminal suits. After 7 years neither had even gone to trial yet and would have cost many millions of dollars to defend (so in a best case scenario, you are out millions of dollars to defend something, and probably spend another 5 years of your life dealing with the legal system). Just want to get all this dumb stuff over with really. :)
Shawn added more details on Twitter about the settlement:
I told him I was sorry and he said:
@rustybrick don't be... it's not the end of the world. It is what it is... :)— Digital Point (@digitalpoint) May 2, 2014
And in terms of his company, the forums, etc, no changes:
I've known shawn through the SEO space for now well over 13 years or so. It is always sad to see someone you've known go through stuff like this. And yes, I believe Shawn's side of the story. I don't take Shawn as a liar, what he may have done may have been illegal, but I don't think he lied about what he did and did not do. But again, I did not follow the case, read the documents or have any inside information.
Forum discussion at DigitalPoint Forums.