If someone says something mean about you on the internet, most of us have no choice but to let it go. Then again, most of us don't have millions of dollars and years of our life to dedicate to finding and punishing the online offender. The Wall Street Journal takes a deep look at the story of real-estate investor Bradley Cohen, who spent $3 million and four years bringing to justice the man who ruined his good name on the internet. It started in 2012, when a Google alert interrupted Cohen and his wife's European vacation. Someone had created a website with the header "Is Bradley S. Cohen the Next Bernie Madoff?" The website wrongly claimed Cohen had been convicted of fraud and money-laundering and that his company was a Ponzi scheme.
At this point, if you're wondering why you care about the plight of someone trolling a rich guy online, know that Cohen's story also includes threats on his life, dead turtles, fetish sex, late-night visits from FBI agents, an Alaskan bush pilot, and an armed federal judge. But it all began with that one website. Cohen started small, spending $100,000 over six months to try to bump it off the first page of Google search results for his name. It didn't work; the site was often the first thing that popped up. Cohen worries the smear cost him millions in investments. His wife says it changed their entire life. Read the full story here to learn how Cohen discovered the perpetrators and why, despite one of the biggest online defamation awards ever, he might never see any money. (Read more defamation stories.)