Reading Deeply Into Things
I was not aware of the meaning of the verb "catfish." For those similarly sheltered from modern terms, it is the practice of using an abandoned Internet profile to pretend that you're someone else and then scamming under that identity.
Valentine is one of my customers. His accent is similar to "several of the people" with whom I have spoken while uncovering a scam (ring?). That was in quotes in case he's all of them, but if he is all of them, he's not keeping track of his lies very well, so I think he has friends helping him.
I have a friend in Nicaragua who has a friend (I'll call her "Anna") in Connecticut who has a friend ("Becky" is the alias I choose for her) that takes care of an elderly woman (I'll call her "Betty") who is in love with a man to whom she has been sending money. Becky told Anna about it and her Anna used FaceBook to search for my name and found that my friend was friends with me. Thank you NSABook! It's nice to see your spyware do some good.
Becky and I have been working together to uncover inconsistencies in the story that Betty's boyfriend/secret husband, "Jose Davila" is giving to Betty. We hope that if we present enough of the evidence to Betty, she will stop helping "Jose" to cover his tracks as he steals from people.
The "lucky" ones in the intro blurb for this email refers to those in the group of scammers who bother to read my newsletter. They will now know a lot more about what I've been doing to and for them. For them, I am showing the world toward which we are headed, where everyone knows a lot more and there are too many people like me to make scamming for a living feasible. What I'm doing to them is inviting my peeps to be aware and join in my efforts to protect their victims. Aside from Betty there's also another elderly woman who has been robbed (I'll call her "Hannah").
In a phone call to which Becky silently added me so that I could record it ("Pamela Call Recorder for Skype"), I heard "Jose" mention that he had Hannah wire Betty some money, which Betty's bank (forcibly) reversed under the assumption that Betty was "being scammed." Well, sure she was, but she loves her scammer. Do we have the right to forcibly protect people from hurting themselves? I think not, unless they are our children. Western Union makes the same mistake consistently.
Persuasion is nearly always the right path. Convincing Betty that she is being catfished is very difficult. Hannah, however, listened to the recording (which I emailed to her) and agreed right away. Hannah is now enjoying the devious "white hat" work she's helping me do.
Valentine was one of my customers. He contacted me from (617)942-0311. He also called himself Opheus and he gave me the email addresses email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org as his own, and told me he had another number, (617)706-7556. He gave me all this information when I told him I'd need to call the number on the package to make sure the person sending me money was the person who wanted to pay for bitcoin that I was sending to him. He really didn't want that, he said, because he was dealing with her husband, "Mr. Owen", not her. He insisted that I not call Betty. So I agreed to wait for "Mr. Owen" to call me.
"Mr. Owen" contacted me from (713)535-9767 a few times but we got cut off after a few seconds. Valentine continued responding favorably when I said I was still trying to have a conversation with Mr. Owen. Becky told me that Betty's boyfriend (not husband) was named Jose Davila, and sent me a screenshot of his facebook profile, which I cannot access directly ("super private", Becky calls it).
A little while later, "Jose" called me from the same number that "Mr. Owen" had used. He was angry that I was trying to contact Betty, and for exactly the same reasons (and with the exact same idioms) that Valentine had used.
According to the facebook page, Jose was an engineer at Shell. I found a Google hit (for LInkedIn) that associated Ray Walding with Jose Davila at Shell. If you've read this far, you might enjoy doing a little sleuthing to see if you can get in touch with the real Jose (or someone who knows him, like probably Ray) to do some damage control against the catfish phenomenon. He may be kind enough to help Betty out of the mess she's allowed herself to get into, thinking she is in love with the person who stole his facebook profile.
Hannah and I are working on uncovering more information about these catfishers. Becky and I are working on helping Betty to extract herself from a financially devastating fantasy. Thanks to Wall of Coins founder Robert Genito, I believe that financial institutions simply assume that you're the criminal when someone uses you in a middleman attack and close your account without explaining why. So we digital currency brokers have to protect ourselves. See the karma?
Yo scammers, Hannah and I have money laying around because we have run honest businesses for a while. I can help you do that too, if you can lose the ego that is holding you back from admitting that the path you chose is a crappy one. Of course, the crap you've left behind you will make this more difficult, but as more people learn to protect themselves, I think it will be worth it. I forgive foolishness easily.
PS. As I was getting ready to mail this, LocalBitcoins sent an email saying that they will be changing "payment windows" so now you'll have twelve hours to mark the trade paid instead of only six.