in

You’re only making it worse for yourself

Screenshots from the two web sites, now taken down, serving to whitewash the reputation of Keith Schembri, the chief of staff of former Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Well that didn’t take long.

Keith Schembri’s short-lived publishing venture vanished faster than you can say “fake news”.

Our story about the bizarre phoney newspaper had only started making the rounds of breakfast tables across Malta when both sites were taken offline.

You’ll be glad to know that we downloaded full archives of this gem of creative writing should anyone decide to resurrect it. It’s also available in archives online for English teachers who need classroom examples of atrocious prose.

The hagiography keith-schembri.com and the fake malta-today.com were connected by mutual referral links, bouncing traffic from one to the other the way Electrogas bounced direct orders between friends of friends.

And it turns out they were connected behind the scenes, too.

The faux Malta Today’s Privacy Policy linked to a document posted in French (thank you, Daniel). And in an example of sloppy security on par with the Lands Leak scandal and the Labour Party’s electoral list, the upload directory of this news site was completely unprotected.

Such directories contain revealing nuggets of data. The site’s administrator — “admin2338” — was linked to another site in France featuring artist Stephanie Jardin that was also taken down with the same notice.

Within a couple of hours of The Shift’s article, the fake news website was taken down.

The Shift reached out to let her know, but I’m pretty sure she already saw it. She wasn’t taking our phone calls or messages.

All of this is predictable enough — including the fact that they’re following our news.

But wait. It gets even more bizarre.

Pinch yourself to confirm you aren’t dreaming, or trapped inside a reality show called Amateur Hour.

Within hours of our story going online, the touching ‘rags to riches’ tale of Keith Schembri transformed itself before our very eyes into…. Keith S. Chembri, ‘Internet Lawyer’.

Keith Schembri was transformed into Keith S. Chembri, ‘internet lawyer’ within hours of The Shift’s article.

It’s more believable than Clark Kent changing into Superman… but less believable than Egrant belonging to Brian Tonna.

Unfortunately, you can’t actually hire “Keith S. Chembri” to defend your online reputation because he only exists on that website.

The bio photo appears in a separate inactive Twitter account called “Jr Hegg Tech”. And the text at the top of the page was plagiarised with a quick copy and paste from “RM Warner Internet / Corporate Lawyers”.

In their rush to cobble this camo together, they even copied and pasted the links.

The fake testimonial by the new version of Schembri is linked to a competitor’s law site. And his Georgia office address really belongs to a group of Accident Lawyers called Strom Law Firm, LLC.

Someone had an accident here, but it wasn’t Strom Law Firm.

If that weird Libyan hijacking from 2016 was a 10 on the Crazy Scale, this just went to 11.

These guys sure are working frantically to cover their tracks. And on Good Friday, no less.

An hour or so later even the blog went.

In the end, they just gave up and created a redirect from their fake malta-today.com to the actual Malta Today website.

Look, I know no one ever resigns or apologises in Malta. But maybe it’s time to stop embarrassing yourselves and come clean on who is behind this pathetic travesty.

The article “How Keith Shembri [sic] Got Entangled In The Murder Of The Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia Without Having A Hand In It” (retrieved from archive) does close with the words:

“Despite all the accusations and the nasty campaign against my person on the internet, I want to assure you that I have no doubts in this case and that I am very sorry for what happened to the journalist.”

Regret that he never really expressed as he dodged cameras and public attention.

The author tells us in the first person, “I will always remain loyal to the Labour Party. I am convinced that my innocent [sic] is going to emerge for everyone to see”.

The blog post shifted to the first person.

I don’t know if he wanted to say more. The sentence trails off without a period — just like his libel suits trail off without a verdict.

Leaving things hanging is Schembri’s modus operandi. He has a habit of demanding justice while doing everything he can to evade it. And when he’s finally pinned down in court, he sticks his tail between his legs and runs away.

He is a suspect in the brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. And none of these ridiculous contortions will help him escape his day in court.

Read the story: ‘Keith Schembri has a fake newspaper

Jason Micallef Owen Bonnici

Prestigious art prize awarded from one government agency to another

‘Judicial reform must be transparent’ – Vincent De Gaetano