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Man Loses Millions In Bizarre Virus-Protection Scam 366

Posted by timothy
from the security-theater-with-a-human-face dept.
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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Man Loses Millions In Bizarre Virus-Protection Scam

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  • Not creative enough. (Score:4, Informative)

    by ewhenn (647989) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:48PM (#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.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:07PM (#34182490) Homepage

    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.

  • by pspahn (1175617) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:29PM (#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.

  • by nacturation (646836) * <nacturationNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:50PM (#34182732) Journal

    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:And... (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @12:22AM (#34182926)

    Please mod parent Troll or at least Flamebait.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:27AM (#34183496)

    As someone with a family member with a form of dementia, I can tell you that yes, you are wrong.

    This family member has developed paranoia and a number of delusions, causing her to grossly mismanage her sizable savings. However, she is still performing the ordinary activities that retired people do.

    Have you ever known someone with schizophrenia? They can simultaneously believe that George Bush calls them on their cell phone every evening while holding a job and living a life that seems normal on the surface.

    There is ample evidence that one can retain the ability to do procedures (even complex ones) while losing the ability to discriminate between rational, irrational, and delusional thoughts.

  • by Ghaoth (1196241) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @02:53AM (#34183590)
    They did get him......
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:32AM (#34184520) Journal
    Not only did he lose a fortune, he spent a long time kept in fear for his life. If you've even spent a night wondering if people you've pissed off are going to come round and break into your home, imagine spending two years being told a group are trying to kill you.

    Incidentally, TFA makes a little fun about Opus Dei, featured in the Da Vinci Code being one of the supposed villains that are after him. Okay, that's a bit of a red flag, but Opus Dei do actually exist and are a sort of sub-cult within Catholicism. They've got their claws into various influential people and actually score moderately well on the Sinister Scale. Lower than Wahabism, bobbing along under Scientology, but certainly high above your run of the mill nutters.
  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @07:39PM (#34191662)

    Okay. I am sufficiently chastised.

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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