Tag Archives: Internet scam

The General, The Famous Psychiatrist and “Different Nigerians”

You don’t have to be dumb to fall for Nigerian email scams. According to a suit filed by a renowned psychiatrist’s son, Dr. Louis A. Gottschalk lost perhaps $3 million over 10 years to scammers from Nigeria. As the LA Times puts it:

The court documents, filed last month in Orange County Superior Court, allege Gottschalk even traveled to Africa to meet a shadowy figure known as “The General.” Gottschalk — who at 89 still works at the UCI campus medical plaza that bears his name — said in court papers that the losses were caused by “some bad investments.”

The tale is an awfully familiar one, made worse by the sums involved and the apparent fact that we are talking about a renowned psychiatrist. As the son’s attorney put it: “While it seems unlikely, even ludicrous, that a highly educated doctor like [Gottschalk] would fall prey to such an obvious con, that is exactly what happened,” according to court papers.

According to the son’s account, the scam dates back to 1995:

A year later, Louis Gottschalk traveled to Africa to meet “The General” and other Nigerians “to show them that he was sincere so he would get the money.” Another court document said he also traveled to Amsterdam to meet the Nigerians. Soon afterward, his son said Gottschalk admitted to him that he had lost $300,000 and that FBI agents concluded that he had been a victim of an Internet scam.

But, as in many of these cases, that didn’t stop him. Throwing good money after bad, caution to the wind but not the towel, Louis Gottschalk, according to his son

kept clandestinely wiring money to the Nigerians at least until last fall. Guy Gottschalk said that when he confronted his father in October, Louis Gottschalk said, “Don’t worry, everything will be all right on Thursday because I will be getting $20 million.”The son said his father also told him he’d get the money this time because these were “different Nigerians.”

They always are.

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The End Of ‘Weaselboy’

Weaselboy is behind bars: ‘Weaselboy’ jailed for internet scam 

A computer obsessive nicknamed Weaselboy was jailed for six years yesterday for an elaborate internet scam that earned him more than £1.5 million. Still only 23 years old, Peter Francis-Macrae boasted that he could bring the country’s economy to its knees by crashing computer systems.

He also threatened to kill police and trading standards officers when they began investigating the online rackets he had run for five years and which, at times, brought in £200,000 a week.

I don’t have time to paint this guy’s history but a keyword search on his name should suffice. It seems to revolve around

registering the names before they were officially released. Francis-Macrae, of Crosshall Road, St Neots, is alleged to have made more than £1.5 million from the fraud involving the domain names.

More details here.

The Anti-Phishing Toolbars That Didn’t

Here are the results of the toolbars that didn’t work out for me. Remember, the attack is clever enough to appear as a legitimate website in the URL box. The question is: Will the toolbar realise that’s not the only source of data appearing on the webpage?

 Charterone3

Earthlink’s Scamblocker toolbar came out neutral: The text reads While we can’t guarantee that this Web page is safe, ScamBlocker found no evidence that indicates fraud or Internet scam. Of course, neutral really isn’t good enough.

Earthlink1

Corestreet’s Spoofstick took a pretty straightforward punt on the site, and in doing so got it wrong too:

Charterone2

Other toolbars that threw up green lights were SpoofGuard and InspectorBrown:

Others

As mentioned in the previous post, Netcraft’s Antiphishing Toolbar spotted there was a problem. The text reads The page you are trying to visit has been blocked by the Netcraft Toolbar because it is believed to be part of a fraudulent phishing attack…. Are you sure you want to visit the page?

Netcraft

So, congratulations Netcraft. For the others, when I did this research I asked for some comment but so far have received invititations to chat but no detailed replies to my questions, except from InspectorBrown, which I’ve posted here. (Neither has the bank in question replied to my emailed questions.) If I do hear more I’ll pass it on.

I should point out that all of the toolbars are free, and could be regarded as altruistic efforts to halt the phishing plague. But I still believe that unless such tools offer really good protection against the inventiveness of phishers, they merely lull users into a false sense of security. If you want to fight the phishers, you’ve got to be smarter than this.