After attempting to extort money from a Dallas business, 53-year old William Stanley has been sentenced to more than three years in prison. Stanley participated in illegitimate SEO practices, extorting dozens of individuals and companies. The supposed SEO pro threatened to write negative reviews and make fraudulent accusations, if the victim did not pay him a certain amount of money.

Officials say Stanley was originally contracted by the Dallas firm, Generational Equity, to provide SEO services and reputation management. After discovering he had created sites intended to damage the company’s reputation, the company tried to fire Stanley.

The illegitimate SEO pro extorted an additional $80,000 following the layoff, requiring the lump sum to be paid in order for the company’s officials to be granted access of the fraudulent websites.

Stanley communicated by email and phone as ‘William Davis’ and ‘William Laurence,’ threatening to harm GE’s business reputation through negative internet posts. If GE failed to send money, Stanley’s negative reviews would unfavorably affect the company’s reputation and ability to conduct business. He received an additional $29,556.

Stanley was fined $174,888 in restitution to 12 victims, and sentenced to 37 months in prison. His sister, Lynn Faust, could face a $250,000 fine and up to three years in prison for her involvement in Stanley’s criminal activity.

Extortion and illegitimate SEO is a popular topic among those in the industry. In October of 2015, Amazon filed lawsuits against 1,114 users. Individuals were identified by Amazon representatives who attempted to buy fake reviews from Fiverr, a site offering services and tasks starting at $5 per job. Even after the suit was filed, positive and negative reviews could still be found on the gig site.

Online reviews-both positive and negative have become increasingly popular ways to promote a product online and negate attention away from competitors. These practices are not considered SEO. In fact, many who actively do legitimate SEO feel that referring to Stanley as an SEO pro sheds negative light on the industry and its activities.