Website spotlights misdeeds of the rich and powerful

Mar 14, 2010 by Glenn Chapman
The swindling saga of legendary Wall Street conman Bernard Madoff, seen here in 2009, has inspired the creation of The Vile Plutocrat, a website devoted to the notion that "rich people suck."

The swindling saga of legendary Wall Street conman Bernard Madoff has inspired the creation of The Vile Plutocrat, a website devoted to the notion that "rich people suck."

The Vile Plutocrat gathers news about the misdeeds of "the entitled class," mixes in scathing editorial commentary and then links stories to biographies of the purported villains.

"The idea was born out of the Bernie Madoff scandal," Paul Burton of 16 Toads Design told AFP late Saturday at a South By South West Interactive gathering here.

"In a nutshell, we are looking for any kind of news that revolves around people in the upper echelons of society that are doing something that takes money away from the middle class."

Madoff was arrested on December 2008 and sentenced in June to 150 years in prison after pleading guilty to a multi-billion dollar in which existing investors were paid returns stolen from new investors' capital.

To the horror of thousands of investors, including major banks, Hollywood moguls and savvy financial players, Madoff, a former chairman of the NASDAQ stock market, admitted that for decades he had not been investing their money at all.

Instead, he had been shuffling the funds in an endless pyramid operation, using new victims' contributions to pay phony interest to others and funding his own luxury lifestyle.

Madoff claimed to have been managing 65 billion dollars, but in October the court-appointed liquidator said the real bottom line was 21.2 billion dollars.

Burton said that after the scandal broke there was "a tsunami" of similar stories about Ponzi schemes and other abuses of trust and power by people of privilege.

He watched as the stories slipped from front pages of news outlets to inside pages and then vanished completely.

"It effectively prevented people from learning about what was happening and the people behind it," Burton said of scandal stories seemingly becoming so common they got short shrift.

"We take the stories and tie them to the individual behind everything then let people judge for themselves. It is definitely a news site; nothing is made up, nothing is extemporized, it is all real."

He admits that his website is a little biased, noting that he has always been a "very political" person.

Thevileplutocrat.com front page Sunday included stories of a US congressman being admonished for accepting expensive trips as gifts and a probe into what role big US banks may have played in Greece's financial crisis.

In the year since Burton created the website it has grown to attract about 2,000 weekly readers.

The Vile Plutocrat is among five blogging category finalists that will find out Sunday whether they have won a SXSW award for sites that "revolutionize the power of publishing."

"The short version of the website is rich people suck," Burton said of the small operation based in the US state of Georgia. "We pull in news from around the world and it involves people from every country."

Explore further: Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ponzi scheme theme in 'Made Off' videogame

May 06, 2009

Is there a bit of Bernie in you? Mobile phone users worldwide will soon be able to play Ponzi scheme scammers in a new videogame based on the financial ruin wreaked by jailed US fraudster Bernard Madoff.

Probing Question: How do Ponzi Schemes work?

Jul 02, 2009

Imagine the shock, the horror, and the sheer panic that would come with learning that the financial plan you’d sunk your life savings into was a sham, the financial experts you trusted were crooks, and all your money was ...

Madoff scandal's impact on the life sciences

Mar 17, 2009

While the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme led to the collapse of the Picower Foundation, a major benefactor for life science research, many bioindustry observers view the fallout from the scandal as a minor consequence in the ...

This week's Web Winners: Investment help

Jan 13, 2009

Sophisticated investors were among victims of Bernard L. Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Avoiding financial scams must be even trickier than we thought. These sites might make it easier.

Recommended for you

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

6 hours ago

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

11 hours ago

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

12 hours ago

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

12 hours ago

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

Aug 21, 2014

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

Music site SoundCloud to start paying artists

Aug 21, 2014

SoundCloud said Thursday that it will start paying artists and record companies whose music is played on the popular streaming site, a move that will bring it in line with competitors such as YouTube and Spotify.

User comments : 0