Michael Watkins, a well-known influencer in the crypto community, has been ordered to pay $30,000 in damages after a defamation case against him backfired. Watkins’ negative review of Trustpilot, a popular review website, led to a lawsuit from the company, which accused him of making false and defamatory statements about its business practices.
The case began in 2018, when Watkins left a negative review of Trustpilot on the site’s platform. In the review, Watkins alleged that Trustpilot’s business practices were unethical and dishonest, claiming that the company had failed to properly vet reviews and was allowing fake reviews to be posted. Watkins’ review quickly gained traction, with many users agreeing with his criticisms of Trustpilot.
However, Trustpilot was not amused by Watkins’ review. Shortly after it was posted, the company launched a lawsuit against him, accusing him of making false and defamatory statements about its business practices. Trustpilot argued that Watkins had no evidence to support his claims and that his review was damaging to the company’s reputation.
Watkins, who goes by the name The Holistic Trader online, defended himself vigorously in court. He argued that his review was protected under freedom of speech laws and that he had a right to express his opinion about Trustpilot’s business practices. Watkins also claimed that he had evidence to support his claims and that Trustpilot was trying to silence him by filing a lawsuit.
Despite Watkins’ arguments, the judge sided with Trustpilot, ruling that Watkins had indeed made false and defamatory statements about the company. The judge ordered Watkins to pay $30,000 in damages to Trustpilot and to remove his negative review from the site.
The case has been a major blow to Watkins, who is a popular figure in the crypto community. Watkins has built a large following on social media, where he offers investment advice and trading strategies to his followers. Many of his followers are now questioning his credibility, with some accusing him of spreading false information about Trustpilot and other companies.
The case has also sparked a wider debate about freedom of speech online. Some commentators have argued that Watkins’ case is an example of companies trying to silence critics by taking legal action against them. Others have pointed out that freedom of speech does not give individuals the right to make false and damaging statements about companies or individuals.
In the end, the case serves as a reminder that online reviews can have real-world consequences. Companies are increasingly monitoring social media and review sites for negative comments about their business, and will not hesitate to take legal action if they feel their reputation is being unfairly damaged. As for Watkins, he will have to live with the consequences of his negative review for some time to come.
Ms Tatana’s decision to sign up for cryptocurrency trading coaching with The Holistic Trader turned into a costly learning experience. She joined the platform in 2020, paying a lifetime subscription of $5,000 and monthly fees of $120 to gain access to a Telegram group that discussed crypto trading and was administered by Mr Watkins. Ms Tatana started receiving “buy” and “sell” recommendations that she implemented. However, when the market turned, Mr Watkins’ performance dropped significantly, causing money to disappear from Ms Tatana’s account. After this, Mr Watkins asked members of The Holistic Trader group to leave public reviews on Trustpilot. In March 2021, he launched a “thousand to million dollar challenge”, but members complained about the lack of clarity about live trading and the reality of large losses caused by Mr Watkins. When he requested members to invest a further $1,000, Ms Tatana alleges the money was again lost. Mr Watkins argued that crypto exchange Binance liquidated the account and requested group members to contribute again, with the promise of sharing profits. This time, 31 Ethereum coins, worth about $42,000, were held in a Binance account linked to Mr Watkins. However, Ms Tatana alleges the funds were again lost. In July 2021, Mr Watkins closed The Holistic Trader, citing constant abuse. This led to angry members taking to Trustpilot to vent their dismay. Ms Tatana wrote a review title “Don’t join!”, which was soon flagged and made invisible. In October 2021, Mr Watkins and a company called BlockTraders served Ms Tatana with a defamation suit, demanding damages and removal of the review, plus legal fees. In February 2022, less than three weeks before the trial date, Mr Watkins asked for the case against him to be dismissed with a zero costs award order as Ms Tatana could not afford damages and costs. Justice David O’Callaghan ruled Mr Watkins to pay $31,323.60 in legal costs. The ruling has been seen as a strong statement against the misuse of the law to pressure others without the intention of prosecuting the case.