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Fri Oct 19, 2012, 01:17 AM

GRAVIS MARKETING - BOMBSHELLS IN PICTURES - A THOROUGH LOOK AT DOUG KAPLAN AND HIS ASSOCIATES [View all]

Last edited Fri Oct 19, 2012, 04:05 AM - Edit history (1)

<grantcart comment.

Anybody who has even a passing familiarity with my work will already know that the graphics alone of this piece are way beyond my abililties, let alone the quality of reporting. This is provided by Gravis Working Group Contributor #2. Based on some of the information here, and other information we have withheld we have good reason to believe that reasonable precautions should be maintained to protect our contributors. Future contributors are likely to all appear under grantcart with a number attached.

Great care has been taken in checking all of the details of the post and we have people in the group with both legal and journalistic credentials who have tried to make sure that all of our posts meet high standards. We believe that this one does that.

One word of caution. We are not finding that there is a strong link between Kaplan and his known associates and the Republican Party, the conservative movement or politics in general. It may be that polling was only part of a wider scope of activities. We still have a great deal of material we are going through.

We do have a commitment from a statistician for a report Friday afternoon that will go into detail on the question of the polls themselves, although while we think it an important question, the real story is the group of people behind Gravis and the non political ends that they hoped to achieve. We can get a hint of what they were trying to achieve by looking at what they have been doing in the past.

Now for an excellent read by Contributor #2

end of comment by grantcart>


NB: If there are any inaccuracies in any of the material here, please let us know promptly and with sufficient proof, and we will make such corrections in a timely manner. We do not believe there are any inaccuracies in the material herein, and have made every effort to only report information we believe to be solidly and reliably sourced.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

Ultimately, we believe that "Gravis Marketing" is the last of a long line of shady enterprises pursued by Doug Kaplan and a merry band of small-time hustlers, a band marked by the sketchy personal pasts of its individual members and a constant pursuit of the fast, and, almost invariably, dishonest buck.

We believe that the evidence below will amply illustrate the conjecture above.

NOW, ON TO THE STORY:

Gravis Marketing.

Who is "Gravis Marketing," or should we say what is "Gravis Marketing," the "polling" outfit that burst out of nowhere and suddenly started issuing polls in January of this year, an outfit that puts out so many swing state polls that they often are assigned significant weighting in Nate Silver's otherwise excellent "538 Blog."

Most relevantly, who is Doug Kaplan, the President of Gravis Marketing? The answer to that perhaps holds the key to the questions posed above. Doug Kaplan's twitter feed reveals the first clear picture of this mystery (https://twitter.com/dobied). How does a man go from discussing nothing but Casey Anthony and his rampant zionism (more on that in posts to follow) to suddenly touting a stream of polls that have turned Doug Kaplan and Gravis Marketing into one of the most influential suppliers of swing state polls in this crucial election?

We are still digging into the question of that transformation - but the answer to the question of "Who is Doug Kaplan" is both unsettling and fascinating and suggests that the media needs to do some serious digging into the roots, practices, and motivations behind the efforts of "Gravis Marketing."

Some of this material will duplicate elements covered in the last post on Doug Kaplan's previous life of travel scams, but this post will include screencaps that leave no doubt as to the connection between Kaplan and these shady companies, evidence of Kaplan's involvement in criminal and otherwise questionable activities, and association with other individuals who are no strangers to the law. Believe us when we tell you that we have much more information than you have seen published to this point or will see in this post - the story continues to develop, and each step further down the path seems to reveal a more sordid tableau.

WHO IS DOUG KAPLAN

Well, to answer this, we'll use his own words. Or we will try to.

On Doug Kaplan's personal page, DOUGKAPLAN.NET, he references time spent at Devry University.

But that's not the "educational" institution he references on his LinkedIn page, which you can see here:

[IMG][/IMG]

American Intercontinental University. Put a * next to that. Because we'll include information about "American Intercontinental University" at the end of this post, but let us say that there is good reason to suspect that "American Intercontinental University" is no more than a diploma mill. A Federal Whistle-Blower lawsuit, by prominent members of the University staff alleged a massive fraud perpetrated by the school on federal grant programs, and a letter from an anonymous professor, published in the prestigious Chronicle of Higher Education, stated "if you can breathe and walk, you can get into the school." (article reproduced at: http://www.secinfo.com/dRSm6.v17q.htm)

Doug also mentions time spent studying advertising at Florida International University in the early 2000's. It is unclear what coursework he completed at that institution, but it seems notable that he was still pursuing a Bachelor of Arts at American InterContinental in 2008.

It's an unclear record. We suspect that Doug Kaplan would like to keep all aspects of his pre-Gravis life as vague as possible, because the man behind "Gravis Marketing" has a less than impressive past.

DOUG KAPLAN IN PICTURES

This is who we initially thought Doug Kaplan was when we first visited Gravis Marketing's website:

Not Doug Kaplan
[IMG][/IMG]

Here is Doug Kaplan in 1998:

Yes, This Is Doug Kaplan
[IMG][/IMG]

Here is Doug Kaplan in 2002:

Yes, This is Doug Kaplan
[IMG][/IMG]

Here is a photo of "Transitional Doug":

Also Doug Kaplan
[IMG][/IMG]

Note the address at the bottom of the last picture, which comes from Doug's personal site at DougKaplan.net: 1931 South Prairie Dunes in Oviedo, Florida. That address is going to link Doug to a shady marketing enterprise we will detail further below.

Continuing on with the evolution of Doug Kaplan, though, we give you "Almost New Doug":

Almost New
[IMG][/IMG]

And last, we have "The New Doug Kaplan" a.k.a. "The Gravis Marketing Doug Kaplan":

Doug Kaplan, From His LinkedIn
[IMG][/IMG]

There is a clue that these are all the same person, beyond the fact that all these people are named "Doug Kaplan" and they all live in the same part of Florida. As a working group member astutely pointed out, if you look at the center of his hairline, there is a notch, directly to the right of center, that is consistent in all the photos. It's the same person in every photo.

The 1998 photo is a mugshot from his arrest on March 27th, 1998 by the Lake Mary Police Department for a DUI. It doesn't look like he had two beers and forgot to eat dinner, mind you.

The 2002 photo is a mugshot from his arrest on January 29th, 2002 this time by the Oviedo Police Department, once again for a DUI.

ADDENDUM TO "DOUG KAPLAN IN PICTURES"

Lest anyone think that Doug Kaplan has kept his nose clean since 2002 (he hasn't, as you will see from the marketing scam screencaps from the mid to late-2000's), here is who Doug Kaplan associates with - in fact, here is his Senior Account Executive at Gravis Marketing, Alan Giardinieri -

First, looking dapper on his LinkedIn
[IMG][/IMG]


Now, looking serial killer-ish
[IMG][/IMG]

That second photo is from an arrest for Drug Possession by the Seminole County's Sheriff's Office, on October 27th of last year.

This is not the first time Doug and Alan have worked together. The "DK Advertising" Alan lists as a previous job on his LinkedIn probably stands for "Doug Kaplan Advertising," as the listed address for "DK Advertising" is... 1931 South Prairie Dunes in Oviedo, Florida.

As we will see, the same names pop up again and again in Kaplan's past, always tied to shady consumer scams and consistently marked by trouble with the law.


WHAT DOUG GOT UP TO PRE-GRAVIS

Doug Kaplan has a foreclosure problem.

Looking at the photos above, you won't be surprised to learn that Doug Kaplan was the subject of foreclosure actions both in 2001 and 2002.

2001 Foreclosure:
[IMG][/IMG]


2002 Foreclosure:
[IMG][/IMG]

The 2001 Foreclosure action ended in a judgment against Kaplan of more than $122,000 resulting in a lien to secure payment against Kaplan's property.

Doug's foreclosure problem is not just buried in the past, and may give us some clues as to what inspired him to make his daring break into the world of polling in January of this year.

Here is a record of foreclosure proceedings against him that spanned from 2011 to 2012:

[IMG][/IMG]


Doug Kaplan has an IRS problem.

For that, though, you will need to go back to NorCen_CT's excellent post on the topic, although I will give you a numbers summary here, using NorCen_CT's information.

NorCen_CT's post: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021569031#post1

IRS Tax Liens, by Date:

5/15/00: $28,500 (rounded)
8/22/00: $270,000 (rounded) (NorCen thinks this reads $260,000, but we believe the 3rd digit to be a 9)
10/10/00: $7,500 (rounded)
2/14/03: $34,000 (rounded)
10/6/09: $28,000 (rounded)
12/22/09: $8,500 (rounded)

WHAT DOUG GOT UP TO PRE-GRAVIS: FOLLOWING DOUG KAPLAN (AND ASSOCIATES) THROUGH THE YEARS

Perhaps, above all else, Doug Kaplan appears to have an "associates with unsavory characters" and a "consumer scamming" problem.

This, also, has been covered in a previous post: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021570247

But we are going to use pictures in this thread, and build our case brick by brick.

ESTABLISHING THE CONNECTIONS

Recall that address, 1931 South Prairie Dunes in Oviedo, Florida. Doug Kaplan, himself, has tied Doug Kaplan to that address (via DougKaplan.net).

Recall the names, Elite Options and Florida Reservations. Doug Kaplan, again, has tied Doug Kaplan to these two businesses, as they are listed prominently on his own LinkedIn page.

Now we will tie him to Anthony Arrigoni, with a screencap from Junkfax.org**. Mind you that Junkfax.org is not some questionable site of questionable derivation. At the bottom of this post you will see that, as noted in a prior post, Junkfax.org was founded by Steve Kirsch, a wildly successful businessman and a noted philanthropist. Kirsch runs Junkfax.org as part of his pro-consumer crusade against junk faxes. Kirsch was the founder and chairman of Infoseek (sold to Disney for a healthy sum) and has BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

Junkfax.org = legitimate.

Here is a screencap from Junkfax.org, linking Doug Kaplan to Anthony Arrigoni, Jacob Wood (Wood is also the owner of Elite Options), and the business "Vacation Showroom" (and the subject of the junkfax.org webpage is Kaplan's own Florida Reservations).

[IMG][/IMG]

Returning to 1931 South Prairie Dunes in Oviedo, Florida, let us examine all the businesses that www.corporationwiki.com attaches to that address. Take particular note of "I Marketing" and "DK Advertising."

[IMG][/IMG]

Corporationwiki also directly ties Doug Kaplan to "I Marketing."

[IMG][/IMG]

Now, there is one last connection we need to establish, and, once again, Doug Kaplan will do it for us.

Using Kaplan's "Talent.me" page, we can establish that Doug Kaplan was at Elite Options from January, 2005 to March 2009.
[IMG][/IMG]

Okay, we're done.

Let's review what we've established:

1. That Doug Kaplan has ties to 1931 South Prairie Dunes in Oviedo, Florida (DougKaplan.net)
2. That Doug Kaplan has ties to Elite Options and Florida Reservations (DK's LinkedIn page, junkfax.org)
3. That Doug Kaplan has ties to Anthony Arigoni, Jacob Wood (Elite Options), and "Vacation Showrooms" (junkfax.org)
4. That Doug Kaplan has ties to the businesses "I Marketing," and "DK Advertising" (corporationwiki.com)
5. That Doug Kaplan worked at Elite Options from Jan, 2005 to Mar, 2009 (DK's "Talent.me" page)

Bonus:
6. That Doug Kaplan is tied to "Discovery Marketing" (this one hasn't been covered yet - just wait for the May 2001 FCC Citation)

FOLLOWING DOUG KAPLAN AND ASSOCIATES THROUGH THE YEARS

Using the links shown above, we can illustrate a picture of Kaplan's activities and the activities of people Kaplan is connected to.

APRIL 2000

State of Illinois goes after Doug Kaplan's "Discovery Marketing" for misleading unsolicited fax travel offers and obtains a final judgment and a consent decree.

[IMG][/IMG]

JULY 2000

Florida Officials probe Anthony Arrigoni and Resorts Exchange International for misleading travel offers made by "blast fax." Kaplan may be linked to this same scam, as the Western Michigan BBB targeted both Arrigoni's company and Kaplan's "Florida Reservations" simultaneously (http://westernmichigan.bbb.org/article/consumer-alert--vacation-scam-hits-west-michigan-newspapers-1673).

[IMG][/IMG]

MAY 2001

The FCC issues a citation against "Discovery Marketing" for sending unsolicited and deceptive faxes.

This first screen cap establishes that "Discovery Marketing" is a Doug Kaplan company:

[IMG][/IMG]

This next screen cap outlines the citation issued against "Discovery Marketing":

[IMG][/IMG]

AUGUST 2001

FTC v. Arrigoni: The FTC secures a stipulated final judgment and a permanent injunction against Anthony Arrigoni and Resorts Exchange International for misleading travel offers.

The judgment and injunction basically amount to a suspended judgment for $4 million against Arrigoni and REIA, to be enforced if there are any violations of the terms of the stipulation (don't send out any more misleading travel offers) (http://www.ftc.gov/os/2001/08/reiastip.htm).

[IMG][/IMG]

JUNE 2003

Rip-Off Report Complaint against Jacob Wood and "Vacation Showrooms."

I'm just going to provide the link for this one (http://www.ripoffreport.com/travel-services/vacation-showroom-ce/vacation-showroom-ceo-jacob-wo-xc25f.htm). A man claiming to be Jacob Wood, himself, responds to the report, and you can judge the interaction for yourself.

JANUARY 2005

Junkfax.org details continuing travel fax activities by Doug Kaplan and his associates. We don't know that there is anything illegal detailed here, but further down the page, a consumer claims that an attempt to obtain a refund led to a defunct merchant account and no satisfaction:

[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]


FEBRUARY 2005

Doug Kaplan and Jacob Wood get sued by DISNEY.

Jacob Wood also gets investigated by the Florida Chamber of Commerce for... impersonating the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Some things, you just couldn't even make up.

This screencap also ties Wood to "I Marketing," the entity being sued by Disney. Remember, Doug Kaplan has been tied to "I Marketing" through information at www.corporationwiki.com.

[IMG][/IMG]


FEBRUARY 2008

The North Dakota Attorney General, responding to complaints over travel offers at an event call "Fargo Ribfest," secures a fine against Jacob Wood and "Elite Options," and "Elite Options" agrees to a permanent ban on doing business anywhere in North Dakota. Note that, according to Doug Kaplan's "Talent.me" (see above), Kaplan has a prominent sales role in "Elite Options" during a period that encompasses these activities.

[IMG][/IMG]


CONCLUSION

Well, that wraps up our initial investigation into Doug Kaplan and his associates illegal and unethical activities. Keep in mind, if you have read this far and read all of the above, that this is the man behind a polling outfit that is being treated as a significant authority in depicting the shape of the race for the President of the United States. That's pretty crazy stuff.

This is what we have found in an initial investigation, although there are a few other details that we have left out in respect for certain individuals' privacy (this includes Mr. Kaplan). Would we/will we find more if we dig further? We can't say we would. But this information was compiled over a very short period of time.

On the basis of what we've found, one could say that it's possible that Doug Kaplan has reformed his ways, gotten out of the scamming business, and tried to make an honest go of it. That's possible. On the other hand, Doug Kaplan shows an IRS lien dating from December of 2009, and a foreclosure proceeding that continued into this current year. More damning is that he continues to associate with individuals from his past like Alan Giardinieri, a man who has been arrested within the past year.

Also, there's more to come in this series on Doug Kaplan and Gravis Marketing...

Future installments will include serious questions regarding the accuracy of the underlying data supporting his polling - data that seems to only be justified by either gross inaccuracies in Gravis' calculations or the suggestion that the extent of polling has either been exaggerated or entirely fabricated.

That is obviously the true meat on the bone as to questions regarding Gravis Marketing and their "polling operations."

Also, don't forget the name "Jacob Wood."

More to come in the working group's investigation of Doug Kaplan and Gravis Marketing...








* On American InterContinental University, a place that "if you can breathe and walk, you can get into," according to an anonymous professor quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education (article reproduced at: http://www.secinfo.com/dRSm6.v17q.htm):

Here is the wikipedia link covering controversies involving the school: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_InterContinental_University#Controversy

Here is an eye-opening article detailing a Federal Whistle-blower lawsuit filed against the school, charging fraud in obtaining federal grant money (the whistle blowers, according to the article, are an academic adviser, an employee in the school's Registrar's Office, the President of one of AIU's campuses, a man who is also a vice president for academic affairs, and the school's Director of Human Resources(!)):

[IMG][/IMG]


** On Junkfax.org and Steve Kirsch - the website is, by all appearances, a purely altruistic effort undertaken by Mr. Kirsch. As best we can tell, he created the website because he really, really hates junk faxes. He has vowed to shut down the website when the last junk fax is sent.

Here is a screencap of his foundation's webpage:

[IMG][/IMG]

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Reply GRAVIS MARKETING - BOMBSHELLS IN PICTURES - A THOROUGH LOOK AT DOUG KAPLAN AND HIS ASSOCIATES [View all]
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