Pepling said she doesn’t regret that her story is still online. She hopes someone doing research and thinking about buying from Allerca will find something like The Scientist’s expos√© as well as her article. But she and others clearly took Brodie’s bait back in 2006.

Just last week, Allerca turned up in a Montana health news site’s report on the hypoallergenic pet market - which shows the website is still being found and uncritically cited, five years after the suspicious nature of the company was publicly uncovered.

Cute animals, cutting-edge science, online entrepreneurship - the story had everything. Except credibility.

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Jonah Comstock is a freelance journalist, blogger and recent graduate of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in Manhattan.