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In 2014 Old Hill Partners was unfortunately subjected to a cyberattack by a debtor who had personally guaranteed a defaulted loan that we assumed in 2009 and on which we were forced to foreclose. Subsequently, this debtor initiated a carefully orchestrated online attack against us as a firm and personally against John Howe, our CEO. This disgruntled debtor constructed fictitious websites and false identities through which he distributed false allegations in an effort to force us to abandon our claim and accept a lower settlement. At last count, this individual constructed more than 720 false and defamatory entries and disseminated them across 100+ websites.
To be crystal clear: All of the claims and allegations posted by this individual about Old Hill Partners and John Howe are false.
As a response, Old Hill has taken a measured, thorough approach. We have:
In our increasingly media and internet-focused world, the most common way to garner any information on any topic is through a simple web search. Prior to the attack, we had little web presence, owing to the fact that the direct lending business inherently relies upon trust among counterparties, which meant that we had worked primarily through reputation and word-of-mouth. The attacker was aware of this fact and exploited it to the fullest, knowing that we utilized our well-earned reputation often to source new transactions and foster business and client relationships.
The Internet's ability to quickly and easily reach massive numbers of people by a simple keystroke exacerbates the impact of such attacks, as does the immortalization of negative content by search engines, which keep the damaging data "electronically alive" and thus continually damages the good name of a person or business.
The attack that has befallen Old Hill Partners is the direct result of us performing our fiduciary duties for our investors. We take our obligations as fiduciaries extremely seriously, and are aggressive in meeting them in every transaction in which we engage. The vast majority of our transactions proceed smoothly and terminate successfully, which is why we have such a high level of repeat relationships. Unfortunately, this was not the case in this particular situation.
There is still content on the web regarding this cyberattack and we are working diligently to remove it, but that is no easy task. Nonetheless, we’re pleased to share that on July 17, 2015, the Massachusetts Attorney General arrested and arraigned the borrower on charges of online intimidation and harassment. According to a Boston Globe article, it is the first use of the state’s criminal harassment statute for conduct that occurred online, according to the Attorney General’s office.
Although the efforts of this one debtor have made headlines for all the wrong reasons, we are relieved to know that the legal process is taking its rightful course in settling this unfortunate series of events.
If you would like further details about this incident and our response to it, we welcome the opportunity to provide documentation and address questions you may have.
Copyright 2016 Old Hill Partners Inc.