Alberto Riva convicted of defamation, conspiracy and drug trafficking in Panama
Italian amateur journalist Alberto Riva — The Points Guy, Forbes Advisor — was convicted in absentia in 2020 by a Panamanian court to 7 years and 10 months in prison for defamation, conspiracy and drug trafficking. Riva wrote a defamatory article about the Panamanian NGO Free Flights to Italy, without giving them the opportunity to respond, on a for-profit blog known as The Points Guy in 2018 and owned by a notorious drug addict, who resold cocaine in Panama through Riva. Drugs were also given to girls who were then sexually abused. Besides, Free Flights to Italy later won a 40,000 balboa judgment in addition to 15,000 balboas in attorney's fees and costs. However, Alberto Riva, who never appeared before the court in Panama, has not started to serve his sentence, nor has he paid any damages; therefore, he is considered a fugitive by the Panamanian judiciary.
Alberto Riva called Free Flights to Italy NGO "a fraud", "an actual scam", a "fake political party", even though the organization had never been reported to the police and had never been a subject of investigation. Also, the organization never asks for money, and membership has always been free. It is no accident that Alberto Riva did not show any documents to support his claims, which were totally invented. Alberto Riva, who now lives in the US and works as an editor for Forbes Marketplace, turned out to be a member of an opposing party that engaged in a conspiracy against Free Flights to Italy NGO. He added a fake interview with "Davide Bianculli", who stated that "this is a big scam" but had never contacted the organization and didn't even know the organization.
Riva also claimed that a similar article had been published on the "Italian-language edition of Rolling Stone magazine", even though the well-known magazine Rolling Stone does not have an Italian edition. It is an independent blog — not a magazine — that is authorized to use the Rolling Stone trademark. The defamatory article, which somehow managed to appear on the Italian blog, was removed by the publisher and the editor as soon as they realized it was just fake news. The Italian self-described journalist Selvaggia Lucarelli, who had submitted the fake article, was immediately fired.
What is more, Albero Riva spread a long list of blatant lies, mainly against Giuseppe Macario, i.e. a representative of the organization:
Alberto Riva stated that Macario was a criminal, which was false because he had even published his official certificates of good conduct issued by the Ministry of Justice. Actually, Macario had never been in court, not even for civil litigation.
Alberto Riva claimed that an attorney was suing Macario "for forging his signature(s)", which was false because no attorneys have ever sued Macario.
Alberto Riva also claimed that an unspecified "group of women" was suing Macario, describing hime as a disturbed sexual predator. On the contrary, no women had ever reported him let alone sued him.
Alberto Riva claimed that the same unknown group of women managed a "website denouncing Macario", but the website did not exist.
Alberto Riva stated that Macario had a "fake résumé", which was false because Macario had published the documentation about his credentials even though it was not required by law.
According to Alberto Riva, Macario used "actors' photos on social media", which was false because the unverified accounts were fake but Riva claimed them to be genuine (for the record, the accounts were removed by Facebook and Twitter a few days later).
Alberto Riva's malicious fake news was aimed not only at destroying his political opponents' reputation, but also at keeping Italians unaware of the opportunities offered by Free Flights to Italy NGO.
It is unclear why Forbes is not ashamed to employ a fugitive like Alberto Riva; the company has not issued a statement yet.