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Man Loses Millions In Bizarre Virus-Protection Scam

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the security-theater-with-a-human-face dept.

Crime 366

Orome1 writes "A US court has heard that a couple conned at least $6 million from the great-grandson of an oil industry tycoon after he brought his virus-infected computer in for repair. The couple are said to have tricked the composer into believing that, while investigating the virus, they had found evidence that his life was in danger – concocting a story that the virus had been tracked to a hard drive in Honduras, and that evidence had been found that the composer's life was in danger." The victim here, Roger Davidson, may have lost as much as $20 million, after being convinced that he was in danger from a grand conspiracy. Vickram Bedi and girlfriend Helga Invarsdottir convinced Davidson to pay $160,000 monthly, and possibly much more, for their help.

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he shouldn't complain (5, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182322)

If he was successful as composer and had signed a deal with any of the big labels he would have been left empty-handed by now.

Now That's Bizarre (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182328)

I mean seriously. Do people really fall for these scams?

Re:Now That's Bizarre (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182350)

I mean seriously. Do people really fall for these scams?

"A fool and his money are soon parted" -- Thomas Tusser.

It's as true today as when he said it back in the 1500s.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (0)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182394)

sad. ):

Just the gullible ones. (1)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182360)

Btw, Thank you for your remittance, soon the Iranian shaw will be able to access his funds and reward your help handsomly.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (4, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182384)

More and more I feel that people who are that paranoid and quick to believe conspiracies have an extrem form of narcism. They actually believe that the are important enough to worth that much effort. They think the world is out to get them in fact most the world doesn't even know they are here.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182420)

More and more I feel that people who are that paranoid and quick to believe conspiracies have an extreme form of narcissism. They actually believe that the are important enough to worth that much effort. They think the world is out to get them in fact most the world doesn't even know they are here.

Unlike everyone here who has all there important documents^Hporn encrypted and hidden with TrueCrypt on six hard drives stuffed in the laundry room and the USB stick stuffed in their mom's purse while tunneling into Slashdot with two proxies on different continents?

Re:Now That's Bizarre (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182614)

if you have to encrypt your porn then your are a kid or it is some sick shit of kids so you deserve to be paranoid and anxious all the damn day (and kill ed too but thats a different story) anyway some people deserve to be paranoid

Re:Now That's Bizarre (4, Funny)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182694)

Unlike everyone here who has all there important documents^Hporn encrypted and hidden with TrueCrypt on six hard drives stuffed in the laundry room and the USB stick stuffed in their mom's purse while tunneling into Slashdot with two proxies on different continents?

Continents? Continents?!?

Piffle!

I'm riding 3 satellites and a worm-hole, baby!

Best,
Bruce Schneier

Re:Now That's Bizarre (2, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182732)

Unlike everyone here who has all there important documents^Hporn encrypted

"important documentporn"? I think you meant ^W or ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182436)

More and more I feel that people who are that paranoid and quick to believe conspiracies have an extrem form of narcism. They actually believe that the are important enough to worth that much effort. They think the world is out to get them in fact most the world doesn't even know they are here.

If he has $6 to $20 million dollars to be conned out of, you don't have to be narcissistic to think you are a target, you are the top of the top 1%. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182674)

True, but in the case the only ones out to get him, well, got him. Maybe that means he should have been more paranoid...

Re:Now That's Bizarre (1)

Danieljury3 (1809634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182784)

I'm paranoid but am I paranoid enough?

Re:Now That's Bizarre (5, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182470)

More and more I feel that people who are that paranoid and quick to believe conspiracies have an extrem form of narcism. They actually believe that the are important enough to worth that much effort. They think the world is out to get them in fact most the world doesn't even know they are here.

There is one glaring problem with that viewpoint. It may have been true back when tracking/spying on a particular target would have required special effort and dedication of manpower. It is no longer true now that surveillance, monitoring, and database technology has advanced to the point where monitoring everyone all of the time is becoming increasingly feasible and cost-effective.

For one narrow example, consider police. It used to be that if they wanted to track someone's whereabouts, they had to assign police officers to stake out a suspect and follow him/her around. That's expensive. There are only so many police officers. Dedicating a number of them to constantly track a particular individual had to be justified. That individual had to be exceptional and extraordinary to justify this cost, because that manpower could be put to much better use otherwise. Now it's both cost-effective and (recently) legally justifiable to simply install GPS tracking devices on citizens' vehicles. Now a computer can automatically perform that tracking and all it costs is a piece of mass-produced electronics that only becomes cheaper over time.

Far from narcissists, I am coming to believe that those you call "paranoid" are realists. In a previous era they may have been quaint and paranoid but these days they're among the few willing to face the implications of a hard truth.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (4, Insightful)

Faylone (880739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182528)

I'd say in this case, he wasn't paranoid ENOUGH.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182632)

Assuming that he really got swindled which is a big IF...

Then that means they got him didn't they? After all, how many computer repair geeks would really concoct such a outlandish scheme to swindle him of that much money?

At most they'd overcharge him a few thousands for a new PC with the works, copying data over, and they'd probably get away with that.

Re:Now That's Bizarre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182842)

More and more I feel that people who are that paranoid and quick to believe conspiracies have an extrem form of narcism. They actually believe that the are important enough to worth that much effort. They think the world is out to get them in fact most the world doesn't even know they are here.

What is the point of saying all this when the man was clearly targeted because of his wealth?

Re:Now That's Bizarre (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182486)

http://www.etsy.com/listing/55473505/knit-tinfoil-hat-made-to-order

yes, yes they do!

Re:Now That's Bizarre (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182548)

The scammers had access to his hard drive. They probably just looked at his browsing history to find out which conspiracy theory websites he frequented and made up something that matched up with whatever strange beliefs this guy may have already had. That's what I would do if I wanted to scam someone.

Just because... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182330)

Just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not out to get you(r money).

Re:Just because... (1)

drspliff (652992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182774)

*ahem*

This is why people should fix their own computers (1)

seeker_1us (1203072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182332)

No worries about bad technicians trying to steal your money, just like if you do your own car work you don't have to worry about a bad mechanic trying to change the "headlight fluid."

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (4, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182358)

Yes problem is, that in between fixing my guitar, my laptop, my tv and my fridge, I need to find some time to become skilled in fixing the hairdryer. My family wants some time from me. And the government wants me to put into some time to pay them for whatever service it is they tell me I just bought. In the end... I think I'd just let a qualified mechanic look at the car I transport my kids in ;)

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (5, Insightful)

similar_name (1164087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182514)

Everything is not black and white. To say essentially 'because I cannot know everything I should know nothing' is not much of an excuse. Nobody has to be a certified mechanic to know when your mechanic is screwing you, just like nobody needs to program in cobol to know that when your 'tech' asks for 160k a month you might want a second opinion.

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182552)

Why modded Flamebait? Perfectly valid point. I do consider myself a nerd but I think it's ridiculous that so many nerds expect everyone else to "know" that much about computers. Yeah, maybe they need to increase awareness globally but accept that there are limitations. Think of how many ppl in the world know how to drive (car, truck, van) or ride (bicycle, motorcycle, moped) - and now, how many of them do you think can actually a) Fix a tyre or b) know what a busted carburetter sounds like? I could go on with the car analogy. The most I would expect a car owner to know is how to do a rolling/push/cold start on a car when the battery is low/dead.

There's a reason we trust mechanics - even if we know there's a risk involved with them trying to cheat us. Now consider the cost of yearly warranties with legit outfits to fix computers - they usually cost way too much and even with 1-2 failures a year, exceed the cost of the replacement parts. So you end up going to your local mom & pop shop. PS: They don't become _your_ local mom & pop shop until you've gone there at least the first time.

The reason this guy got screwed out of so much money has little to do with his lack of knowledge about computers.

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182608)

If you don't make the effort to become an _informed consumer_, which while considerable is less than that required to do the jobs you list, you
won't be able to distinguish good techs from bad.

BTW:
In terms of money saved, learn to fix the car first. It pays off hugely over a lifetime, even if you take a community college course to get started.

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182696)

Come on, you don't buy a Mercedes to go fix it yourself. I can make a lot more money with letting a skilled mechanic do that for me, while I'm busy doing my business. To you and me a computer will never have to the store except for a hardware-failure within your warranty. Now, go fix a tv... Don't see many it-nerds fixing their own tv's... What you ask from people is too much. Only hobbyist have an interest in spending the time and effort it takes to become good enough at it to be able to find a darn software/hardware problem. Other people rather invest that time in their own jobs or things they like. Maybe they paint... Maybe they are very good at running a marathon. Everybody has X-time. And everybody has to make choices with that given time. I like pc's. And I used to like fixing them. Now I know better. If my pc goes flat on me, I throw it away and buy a new one. I don't even care to look if it is a faulty power supply or a faulty motherboard. For the simple reason that I have better things to do.

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182364)

No worries about bad technicians trying to steal your money, just like if you do your own car work you don't have to worry about a bad mechanic trying to change the "headlight fluid."

Splitting your sentence between title of your message and the message itself is very annoying. Please stop.

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182482)

That's absurd, there's a difference between "I need to defrag your monitor, only costs 100$!" and "Give me 160k$ per month so I can stop bolivian kidnappers".

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (5, Funny)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182494)

Well, yeah, but a good mechanic will do it properly. That's why you pay extra. Personally I'm not very good with cars and I don't have time to change the headlight fluid every six months, but I am concerned about driving at night when the headlights aren't ionized properly.

You should see my mechanic; he's not the cheapest but he'll fix problems with your car you didn't even know you had, and that other guys aren't sharp enough to notice.

Re:This is why people should fix their own compute (1)

heptapod (243146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182564)

I'm smarter than that, the other day the awesome guys at Geek Squad replaced the magic smoke in my computer and now it's never run better! Best $350 I have ever spent while wearing pants.

Well... (0, Troll)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182336)

More of a stupid tax than a scam, really.

Stupid Tax v. Scam (4, Interesting)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182412)

> More of a stupid tax than a scam, really.

Which is, in and of itself, an interesting dichotomy. To what extent should the law protect those who don't protect themselves? That's an issue comes up in false advertising cases, in tort cases, in welfare issues, in tax policy, and generally throughout society, as soon as you decide there will be rule of law. Do we defend someone against malicious speech? Against the elements? Do we care if they could have diffused a situation with a kind word and instead chose to be belligerent and got punched in the nose? Do we feel differently if the nose hit belongs to a woman or a man or a child or a dog? A multimillionaire should be able to protect himself, but then, if it's inherited, he may have no nose for it. Or if he's only used to dealing with reputable companies, he may be hoodwinked.

Re:Stupid Tax v. Scam (0)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182544)

I'd say that this (being a scam) should be categorized with fake antivirus programs and the like. This one is just particularly expensive.

Now, what that implies is up to you all - I would argue that it's the victim's fault and the government should not be involved, except for perhaps a judge in a civil court rather than a criminal one.

Re:Stupid Tax v. Scam (5, Informative)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182594)

Wrong. This is racketeering plain and simple. Possibly well targeted racketeering, but still the same. Haven't you ever believed something wasn't true? Should people be allowed to maliciously target others with stories defined by false pretenses?

Using someone's fear of further harm to extort money is not all that different than the mob coming in and telling you pay up or else. Throw these crooks in jail.

Re:Stupid Tax v. Scam (0)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182850)

Racketeering means that the scammers would have murdered the victim - or at least inflicted bodily harm - but they didn't, and I highly doubt they would have.

Re:Stupid Tax v. Scam (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182890)

Check your dictionary. A racket is nothing more than an illegal business. Racketeering is therefore exactly what they just did.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182532)

You sound like a criminal.

Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182338)

Well at least now some amount of money is at hands of someone that deserves it *more*.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182368)

A trust-fund baby and his money are soon parted.

That's better than convincing him he was in dream (0, Redundant)

microbee (682094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182346)

and he had to kill himself to wake up

Rings a bell (0, Redundant)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182356)

There's an old saying that's just on the tip of my tongue. Now what is it?

Oh yeah, a fool and his money are soon parted.

Deserved it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182366)

Anyone dumb enough to fall for this deserves to be robbed of millions. I don't even think he should be re-compensated. Consider it an expensive lesson.

Not creative enough. (4, Informative)

ewhenn (647989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182372)

We've been contacted by an alien named Lurg. He comes from the planet Xulton in the in the Doovi nebula. Lurg informed us, that unless you pay him... errr.. I mean us... $160,000 a month, he will steal your child and make him a slave in the Galvanium mines of Dooviburg. You may be tempted to contact the United States authorities about this, however, any contact with them will result in the immediate death of your son.

Bet these chumps would fall for that too.

Re:Not creative enough. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182424)

L. Ron, is that you?

Isn't that scam called Scientology? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182432)

We've been contacted by an alien named Lurg. He comes from the planet Xulton in the in the Doovi nebula. Lurg informed us, that unless you pay him... errr.. I mean us... $160,000 a month, he will steal your child and make him a slave in the Galvanium mines of Dooviburg. You may be tempted to contact the United States authorities about this, however, any contact with them will result in the immediate death of your son.

That's not creative at all. You just ripped off L. Ron HubbleBubble and changed the names

And... (0, Flamebait)

revscat (35618) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182374)

Trust fund baby gets taken to the cleaners by modern day Robin Hoods. The only reaction I can think worthy of this heinous act is...

applause

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182430)

Bravo good sir, Bravo

Re:And... (5, Insightful)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182434)

Robin Hood gave his stolen money to the poor. I don't think these guys will be doing that. They would steal from the poor as well if it seemed profitable. Scammers are the lowest form of humanity.

Re:And... (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182448)

Mod parent up... although most of the reports on this story are copy/paste, I couldn't find a single one that actually stated where the money went. I would think that if they donated it to charity, that would be something to note in such a story. (not excluding the possibility, but there's no evidence that this is what happened as far as I can see).

Re:And... (5, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182688)

Stealing from the poor is profitable. State lotteries, tobacco companies, and televangelists do it all the time.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182826)

Well, GP just has to pick different example from the legends then. Like the revered brigands Romulus and Remus, who, when caught, came up with a story of being princes, and proceeded to found Rome.

Re:And... (5, Insightful)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182444)

There's nothing wrong with being a trust fund baby. We all wanna be one, don't be jealous. What would you expect, you'd turn 18 and give it all away?

Re:And... (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182584)

There's nothing wrong with being a trust fund baby. We all wanna be one, don't be jealous.

But there is a hell of a lot wrong with a trust fund baby that's also a dumbass.
It goes completely against the american ethic we all learned in civics class of rewarding excellence.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182634)

Half of Americans have an IQ under 100. Also, we all want our children to live more comfortably than we did.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182664)

I'd give away what I didn't need, yes.

Re:And... (5, Insightful)

dfenstrate (202098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182454)

This is no 'Robin Hood' scenario, it's straight up theft & fraud. They should go to jail.

Someone foolish enough to buy this sort of nonsense will lose all their money soon enough anyway. I'd rather that cash go to the engineers and line workers who produce fancy cars in Italy than a couple of con artists.

I'm not sure where you have to hang out, and for how long, before you get confused about fraud, theft, lies and deceit, and why we shouldn't encourage this sort of thing.

Re:And... (3, Funny)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182848)

They're con artists. Are you saying you don't want artists to get their fair share of the work they produce? Are you valuing automobile design more than the incredible art of conning? It takes skill and cunning to be a con artist, something which very few people have. You should respect their profession instead of denigrating it as "fraud".

Ah! Artists are never really understood by the masses.

Re:And... (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182476)

Don't confuse running a scam for personal enrichment with the bravery and virtue of a true revolutionary expropriation.

Action with no philosophical backing is pretty empty, isn't it?

Re:And... (1)

kemapa (733992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182534)

This is the dumbest post I've ever seen.

Re:And... (1)

sitarlo (792966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182580)

It just chaps my hide that statements like this get scored 5 "insightful". Sounds like someone is jealous that their life sucks while others are living it up off of grandpa's J.R. Ewing-style success. I see by the lame sig that you are also a liberal. That explains your lack of ethics, wit, and class.

Re:And... (-1, Troll)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182730)

He's just expressing the ultimate liberal goal:

  • take the money form those who have it
  • give it to those who were loyal to you, or to yourself
  • get votes and money from the very rich for protecting them from the very poor
  • get votes from the very poor for protecting them from the very rich and giving them just a bit of that money, but mostly spending it through friends to "help" them through convoluted policy
  • keep the middle class from becoming rich, preferably pushing them towards the very poor side of the scale where they are easier to manipulate
  • talk about a mandate when you have the majority
  • talk about working together when you have the minority
  • make policies in the government that make it easier for your party to keep the office

Re:And... (1)

sitarlo (792966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182788)

Nicely put.

Re:And... (1)

Ziekheid (1427027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182586)

How the hell did your post get a score 5 insightful. What is wrong with some people these days? Bitter people filled with jealousy.

Re:And... (3, Insightful)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182678)

Why is parent +5 insightful? Being jealous of people with lots of money is not reason to mod this crap up.

Look at it this way: These people took advantage of someone who had, obviously, some form of mental illness. Add to that he's technologically illiterate, and things don't look so good.

Here's what the parent should have said:

Trust fund baby gets taken to the cleaners by Bernie Madoff. The only reaction I can think worthy of this heinous act is... Well, I'm glad I got to vicariously stick it to "The Man."

The parent poster needs medication as much as the victim.

Re:And... (2, Insightful)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182724)

I believe we shouldn't punish a person for being born poor. No one has a choice about who their parents would be.

But by that same token we shouldn't punish someone for being born rich either.

The hatred of the rich on ./ is amazing (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182726)

There is this attitude from many, such as you, that just because someone has money they are a bad person. As such they deserve to have bad things happen to them. What a horrible, shallow, short-sighted view. This is particularly true when you are talking someone like a trust-fund kid. At least in the case of someone who started normal and became rich I suppose you could believe they were underhanded and stole money from others if you are a hard core Marxist and have zero understanding of real economies. However someone born in to it? How is that their fault in any way, shape or form? While I certainly don't pity them for begin born in to privilege, I don't hate them for winning the genetic lottery. Hell, all of us who are fortunate enough to live in developed countries and have Internet access won the genetic lottery globally speaking.

So seriously, get some fucking perspective and get some fucking humanity. I get tired of seeing rich-hatred on this site, it is as stupid as any other kind of blind, over-generalized, hate.

And before you point fingers no, I'm not rich. I work for my reasonably modest living. I just happen to understand that I am lucky even in what I have, on a global scale, and I've met people who make a good deal more and less than I do and found those that are kind and caring and cruel and callous in both groups. Money does not define a person.

Re:The hatred of the rich on ./ is amazing (3, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182832)

What's particularly galling about that attitude is, by any objective measure, nearly everyone who frequents /. is "rich". So the idiots on here who proclaim we should "eat the rich" are targeting themselves for extinction.

There's a place in the world for naive people (1)

QuantumBeep (748940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182390)

A counterpoint to the obvious: there's a place in the world for generous, naive people. They are GOOD people, generally.

It's a goddamned shame that scam artists take advantage of them.

Re:There's a place in the world for naive people (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182538)

I don't really know of any reason to assume that naivete automatically indicates generosity or goodness.

Re:There's a place in the world for naive people (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182624)

You just gave me a wonderful mental image of Homer Simpson tapping his fingers together, Burns-style, and gloating. "Yes, yes," he murmurs through an evil grin. "I will control Springfield by buying up all the Twinkies in the Quickie-Mart."

Re:There's a place in the world for naive people (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182640)

Did you try looking at your intuition?

Re:There's a place in the world for naive people (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182662)

The opposite. People who are eager to see the best in others are usually fooled and exploited by people who only pretend to be good.

Re:There's a place in the world for naive people (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182800)

comprehension fail.

i would say that good people tend to be a bit naive, but it doesn't hold that naive people are necessarily always good.

Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me (3, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182414)

Yes, Mr. Davidson, they are out to get you. You just misunderstood who they are.

Naivete and paranoia are a dangerous combination.

Re:Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get m (1)

Ancantus (1926920) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182502)

Naivete and paranoia are a dangerous combination.

And Naivete and paranoia and lots of money is a profitable business venture.

Re:Paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get m (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182754)

Are you by any chance Todd Davis or Robert Maynard, Jr.?

Wish it was just as simple as stupid.. (5, Interesting)

m93 (684512) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182416)

A friend of mine was renting a room in the house of a lady who lived down the street from me. She had been suckered into a Nigerian 419 scam, was convinced that the people she was communicating with were "Good Christians", and sent them about $30,000. When she took out a loan against her home, her daughters attempted to intervene with the courts to declare her incapable of managing her assets. She ended up losing the house and all her money, and my friend lost his room. She was a nice old lady whose mind was starting to go, and unfortunately was taken advantage of by some cold bastards. Don't mock too hard, it could be someone you love or even you one day.

Re:Wish it was just as simple as stupid.. (0)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182458)

I feel bad for the lady, but it really is as simple as stupid. You could lobotomize half my brain and I still wouldn't fall for that kind of thing. And I'm not all that smart to begin with.

Re:Wish it was just as simple as stupid.. (3, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182508)

Come on, I hear this all the time. That would never happen to me... It always happens to someone else. I got news for you. Not all criminals are stupid. Most aren't. And if 1 guy can get a complete bank to fall (and this happened multiple times in history by now) with all their know-how and security and yet you still aren't vulnerable? Think again mate. You will be ripped off when someone wants to put the effort in. And you won't know what hit you until it's too late.

Re:Wish it was just as simple as stupid.. (4, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182546)

I can be conned. Most people can be conned under the right circumstances. A guy like Bernie Madoff could probably con the shit out of me, if I had the money to be worth conning. It's not a question of invulnerability. It's a question of standards. Nigerian princes just don't cut it.

Re:Wish it was just as simple as stupid.. (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182716)

What makes you so confident your mind will work that well with half your brain gone? Or when you've got dementia?

Have you ever seen what happens to people who get age-onset dementia? The changes in behaviour are often very significant.

Might make sense if you're not really using that particular half of your brain in the first place, but that'll be a rare case.

Re:Wish it was just as simple as stupid.. (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182888)

Have you ever seen what happens to people who get age-onset dementia?

Yes. And lobotomies. I certainly agree that a person with advanced dementia shouldn't be managing their financial assets. I'm not familiar with the facts there; I may have been too glib.

That being said, I think a lot of other facilities would go first, before the Nigerian prince thing seems plausible. I suppose my prejudice is that if someone were seemingly capable of living outside of a nursing home, then they would at least maintain a facility for, if not making particularly sound financial decisions, at least not making phenomenally bad ones. I figure it it were me, I'd lose the capacity to actually remember the email, go to the bank, get the loan, and wire it to Prince Fareed long before I lost the capacity to second-guess the decision (at least, by consulting a family member). But maybe I'm wrong.

Can you con an honest man? (4, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182490)

The New York Times has a more in-depth article [nytimes.com] on this case, and it seems strange indeed.

There's an old saying: "You can't con an honest man." Most cons work because they prey on the victim's own greed or baser emotions. I wonder how much of this was going on in this case?

The Times article contains a few choice tidbits. Apparently, once he got into cahoots with the scammers, Mr. Davidson got involved with some plot of theirs to sue Wachovia Bank for mismanaging Davidson's trust fund, among other things. That sounds suspiciously like the classic con, where you give the con man some of your money in return for the promise that he'll get you lots more money later.

If nothing else, Davidson does sound a little credulous, and possibly mentally ill. The scammers told him his life was supposedly in danger from a group of Polish priests with ties to Opus Dei, whom the scammers told him had a plan to overthrow the United States government. How plausible is that? But then, if you were already rabidly anti-Catholic, it might sound very plausible. Most of us probably wouldn't believe there was an international conspiracy on our lives in the first place, no matter how rich we were; but if you were mentally unstable with delusions of grandeur, you might.

The final paragraph of the NYT article says Davidson's outgoing voicemail message says, “If you leave an ad or any other such message, your telephone wire will be fried automatically.” Who would claim such a thing? You might as well say you're going to report them to the Men in Black.

It seems to me that if Davidson was thinking clearly, none of this would have played out the way it did -- but I guess we knew that already.

That's not really true (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182796)

There is a lot of truth to it in terms of certain kind of scams. When you are talking immoral scams yes it is usually true. Things like the Nigerian "Help me steal millions of dollars from my country," things. Well you can't scam someone honest with that because it is a dishonest proposition. Even if you were 100% for real an honest person wouldn't do it because it is wrong.

However there are other scams that work perfectly well on honest people. Ones that play on fear are a good example. You convince someone is in danger and they have to do X to not be. No dishonesty there, they just don't want to be hurt. That is perfectly understandable. I mean if you were able to honestly convince me that my life was in danger and the only way out way to pay, well I'd do it. Now of course I'd be rather hard to convince of that fact, I have a good deal of faith in our police forces and my marksmanship, not to mention a good understanding of just how not worth it it would be to try and kill me. However supposing you found a perfectly believable set of evidence that could well and truly convince me then sure, because I'd think it was real and not want to die.

This leads to the second part that it is possible to scam people who are not as bright and who are credulous and/or gullible. While it may be trendy for geeks to hate on people who are less intelligent as though it was their fault, simple fact of the matter is that as with so much else in humans, intelligence is genetically determined and falls on a bell curve. Just as there are people who smarter than most, there are those who are not. Some people just cannot process data as well as others, cannot reason as well as others, and thus cannot identify and deal with scams as well as others.

So while I find this scam laughably stupid, well I'm a computer support and security professional. I know how this shit works, and the holes are easy to spot. For someone who doesn't know as much, and perhaps is slightly below average intelligence, perhaps it seemed far more plausible.

Re:Can you con an honest man? (2, Insightful)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182844)

If the scammer uses the right approach, anyone can be conned. The ones who think they are too smart are usually easy marks.

Another win for Trickle-Down economics.... (1)

Allnighte (1794642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182504)

1) Man earns millions from oil industry.
2) He dies.
3) His son inherits the money.
4) His son dies.
5) His grandson inherits the money.
6) His grandson gets scammed and loses the money.
7) His grandson's scammers spend some of the money.
8) His grandson's lawyers are paid to fight the scammers.
9) His grandson's lawyers buy a new Mercedes.

See? It *does* trickle down! It just takes 2 generations and some scamming to get it spread around!

GeekSquad (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182530)

Maybe he thought they were "real" agents because of the badges they wear. :)

stupid people... (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182560)

"Stupid people shouldn't have money anyway", to paraphrase Mr. Burns I think.

Re:stupid people... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182780)

I'm sure that's what the _filthy_ rich tell themselves from time to time :).

http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html [ucsc.edu]

As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one's home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.

the fresh prince of nigeria (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182568)

I hope this will help the Prince of Nigeria and perhaps put an end to his money problems.

terra' (5, Insightful)

cratermoon (765155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182582)

Ever since 2002 the US government has been scaring its citizens with a bizarre grand conspiracy theory concocted by DHS and TSA to convince Americans they are in mortal danger from everything from shoes to ink cartridges, and the only solution is to spend vast sums of money on security and endless war while depriving the people of more and more of their liberties.

Asking for it (1)

Dreth (1885712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182592)

Obviously someone that dumb shouldn't have had that much money. He deserved losing it.

A fool and his money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182612)

...are soon parted... nuf said

I've seen a similar scheme (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182758)

I once received a 419 letter that took on the form of a death threat. The writer claimed he was a hit man contracted to kills me, but for a price, he would tell me who my enemy was, and sell me a video of the contract being made. It told me not to contact the police, or he would act immediately. I could tell from the broken English that it was a 419, but I did call the police, hoping they could catch the scammer. They couldn't. I imagine that a senior or eccentric rich person would have taken this seriously, and done what they were told. Naturally, as soon as they paid, the scammer would say their enemy had upped the offer, and they need more money. This story reminds me of that letter I recieved.

Stupid people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182792)

Stupid is as stupid does.

Illegal? Immoral? (0, Flamebait)

VendettaMF (629699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182806)

I'm really not sure that anything that should be classed as a crime has occurred here.

Anyone that dim should not have access to/control of anything close to that much money. It is far better for the nation and the world that the money is in the hands of the cognitively capable.

What is that ol' saying? (1)

ittybad (896498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182846)

Something about a fool and his money...

A Tragic Comedy (1)

jgdobak (119142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182872)

One case of a rich individual being cheated by the relatively poor, as opposed to the situation our economy is founded on, the many poor being cheated by the rich.

What a shame.

And people say rich people deserve there money... (1, Insightful)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182874)

Next time someone tells you that we shouldn't tax the rich because they deserve the money they earn, link them to this story.
The guys a fool living of his great-grand fathers success. It sounds in some ways like the scamers did more work for the money than he did. (Not that I think we should be rewarding them for being a-grade assholes)
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