Man loses $20 million after taking laptop for repair

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In summary, a wealthy musician was scammed out of $20 million by a couple who convinced him that he was under attack by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals, and even priests associated with Catholic organisation, Opus Dei. The couple is now charged with fraud.
  • #1

Evo

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Mind boggling how people believe these scams (see reverand that sent $400,000 to nigerian scammers at bottom), and this musician that believed the conspiracy theories.

A New York couple have been charged with defrauding a wealthy musician to the tune of $20 million (£12.3 million) after he innocently visited their computer servicing company to have a virus removed from his laptop.

According to police, the pair were able to convince Davidson that the virus was in fact a symptom of a much larger plot in which he was being menaced by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals and even priests associated with Catholic organisation, Opus Dei.

So convinced was the victim he is said to have agreed to pay the pair $160,000 per month for 24-hour protection against the fictitious threats, payments which continued until recently.

As book readers will recall, Opus Dei were central to the fanciful plot of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, later made into a high-profile film.

http://www.itworld.com/security/127001/man-loses-20-million-after-taking-laptop-repair
 
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  • #2
As bad as the crime is, I still find myself wondering if people who believe this tripe deserve it?
 
  • #3
If somebody can afford to pay $160,000 per month to buy peace of mind, what exactly is the crime here?
 
  • #4
AlephZero said:
If somebody can afford to pay $160,000 per month to buy peace of mind, what exactly is the crime here?
Fraud, at a minimum. Theft by deception will be added to that charge, for sure.
 
  • #5
I don't think he has a case unless he was attacked by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals or priests associated with Catholic organisation, Opus Dei during the period that they were protecting him.
 
  • #6
Jimmy Snyder said:
I don't think he has a case unless he was attacked by government intelligence agencies, foreign nationals or priests associated with Catholic organisation, Opus Dei during the period that they were protecting him.

Well no, their only defence would be to prove that a) these groups were attacking him and b) that they did defend against said attacks.

Otherwise, telling him these groups were attacking him when they aren't is fraud and scaring this bloke into buying their product - which may or may not do anything.

So unless they can prove the above he has a perfect case against them.

It's a more grand version of the malicious software that pops up on your computer telling you it's scanned your HD, found a number of 'problems' (usually virus related) and the only way to get rid of them is to purchase their software. Usually by rendering your computer useless until you do. The only 'problem' in this case is the software itself. There is no real threat on your computer. They have created a threat, faked the evidence of it and made you desperately want their software.
 
  • #7
A very small part of me thinks this is funny... but they should still be forced to give the money back and convicted of fraud.

$160k a month?! Seriously how could he have though that money was actually being utilized by a small computer repair store...
 
  • #8
Mech_Engineer said:
A very small part of me thinks this is funny... but they should still be forced to give the money back and convicted of fraud.

I do agree with you. However...
$160k a month?! Seriously how could he have though that money was actually being utilized by a small computer repair store...

...this is buzzing around my head and taking over the above rather quickly.
 
  • #9
If the computer repair people got a really GOOD lawyer, they might be able to convince a jury to let them keep some or all of the money. It doesn't seem that far off from something like "UFO abduction insurance" after all. If the perpetrators were actually doing something to stave-off these alleged attacks (even if their actions were woefully ineffective) they will probably be allowed to keep at least some portion of the money. If they took the money and did nothing to prevent the "attacks" (more likely), they'll be found guilty of fraud and have to give it all back.

It does seem like a textbook fraud case however, mainly a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_trick" [Broken] scheme.
 
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  • #10
These days, I am afraid to tell people I am of Nigeria decent.

But seriously the people who get duped are either very greed or stupid.

Also I will like to add that my people are very convincing but you have to be a dunce to get duped.
 
  • #11
Wealthy and musician in the same sentence..?
 
  • #12
Mathnomalous said:
Wealthy and musician in the same sentence..?

I was shocked too.

Perhaps it should be noted in the Spooky or Flukey thread?
 
  • #13
jarednjames said:
I was shocked too.

Perhaps it should be noted in the Spooky or Flukey thread?
At least nobody said that he was a drummer! :rolleyes:
 
  • #14
I don't like dishonest people. They should be punished well.

It seems like this story hasn't been captured by mainstream .. I believe this might be a fake story.
 
  • #15
turbo-1 said:
At least nobody said that he was a drummer! :rolleyes:

My BS radar would have gone through the roof!
 
  • #16
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  • #17
A fool and his $20 million are soon parted.

Well done scammers.
 
  • #18
jarednjames said:
It's a more grand version of the malicious software that pops up on your computer telling you it's scanned your HD, found a number of 'problems' (usually virus related) and the only way to get rid of them is to purchase their software. Usually by rendering your computer useless until you do. The only 'problem' in this case is the software itself. There is no real threat on your computer. They have created a threat, faked the evidence of it and made you desperately want their software.

It's truly a more grand version,I'm lucky not to meet it yet.
 
  • #19
kakarotyjn said:
It's truly a more grand version,I'm lucky not to meet it yet.

Personally, I find these types of 'schemes' if you will, to be rather beautiful. Especially when it comes to their execution.

The person who sits down and comes up with such an elegant system (particularly the type I described) is someone I honestly see as a brilliant (only the initial person, not copy cats). So simple, yet so effective.

Yes, I hate what they do, but you can't deny how elegant the whole system they create is.

I'm always amused by the new and inventive things people come up with. If only that effort was directed into more worth while ventures...
 
  • #20
What elegance was there in this fraud? They just told the guy a lie and he paid them a bunch of money. Ocean's 11 it ain't.
 
  • #21
Office_Shredder said:
What elegance was there in this fraud? They just told the guy a lie and he paid them a bunch of money. Ocean's 11 it ain't.

Not this particular fraud, but the general method.

Such as the computer example I mentioned earlier. Who ever sat down and came up with that, to me, was quite creative and developed a rather elegant idea.

I'm not saying I agree with it and certainly wouldn't advocate it.
 
  • #22
Pengwuino said:
A fool and his $20 million are soon parted.
:rofl: I have to agree with that.
 
  • #23
This guy has to be really, really dumb.
 
  • #24
KingNothing said:
This guy has to be really, really dumb.

If that is true, then he would also have to be really, really lucky to accumulate $20 million.
 
  • #25
Mech_Engineer said:
$160k a month?! Seriously how could he have though that money was actually being utilized by a small computer repair store...

He was a liberal arts major. The guy had it coming; you can't be that dumb AND that wealthy. Money and idiocy repel like water and oil.
 
  • #26
jarednjames said:
The person who sits down and comes up with such an elegant system (particularly the type I described) is someone I honestly see as a brilliant

Just to be clear: you think the person who sits down and comes up with ideas like you do is someone you see as brilliant?
 
  • #27
FlexGunship said:
Just to be clear: you think the person who sits down and comes up with ideas like you do is someone you see as brilliant?

Like I do? I haven't come up with any ideas here and haven't said that.

Whether you agree with what they do or not (I don't) is irrelevant to how good the scheme is at making money.
 
  • #28
It reminds me of that simpsons joke, where Lisa claims some random item she has is elephant repellant. She asks, as proof that it works, if anyone sees any elephants around (she's trying to illustrate a fallacy.) Homer then asks how much she wants for the elephant repellant.

In other words, depending on what they said to the musician, it might not technically be fraud.
Also, echoing the sentiment from an earlier poster, a fool and his money and his money are soon parted, there's a sucker born every minute, etc.

Does anybody know what musician this was? If he had so much money, he might be a known entity.
 
  • #29
Mathnomalous said:
If that is true, then he would also have to be really, really lucky to accumulate $20 million.

You can be talented at something (like music) and also be really stupid.
 
  • #30
Galteeth said:
You can be talented at something (like music) and also be really stupid.

You don't see many hip hop artists and rappers holding advanced degrees for one.

Also, for whoever claimed a scam artist can not be brilliant doesn't appreciate the definition of 'brilliant'. It doesn't matter what you do, it's how you do it that defines brilliance. Perpetrating something like this takes brilliance... or utter utter mental retardation by the victim.
 

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