More On Greek Arrest Of Programmer On Spam/Drug Dealing Charges

from the doesn't-look-good dept

Last week we wrote about the odd saga of a well known Swedish programmer, Rick Downes, who was arrested in Greece on charges of spamming people. The programmer's wife, Sydney Phillips, has updated us with a few more details, though the story still seems confusing. It appears, based on what they're being told and also a story in the local newspaper, that the police believe that the spam (for Viagra, Cialis and Valium) show that he was dealing in illegal drugs -- despite no evidence to actually connect Downes to the spam. It also appears another Swedish citizen was arrested the same day for drug dealing -- and so the police contend that this is a drug ring involving at least the two Swedes: "We were shown three printouts of spam messages without full headers. The first was from Rick, showing the lady how her online enquiry forms for her travel business were not working. The next two were sent from the domain 'acnielsen.com' and advertised Viagra, Cialis, and 'Valjuum' [sic]. There was a convoluted URL for click-throughs, but we don't have that - we were not allowed to keep copies of any of the documents. When the police asked what our profession was, we said 'computer security consultants'. They understood the word 'computer', and they even understood the word 'consultant', but they did not understand the word 'security', and so they wrote that we are 'computer specialists'. When Rick tried to show them the letters from acnielsen.com were not his, they did not understand. He told them to look at the 'From:' field. They did not know what that was. He pointed to it - pointed to 'acnielsen.com' - and their eyes just glazed over." Again, at this point, all of the info we're getting is coming from Phillips, and while we have no reason to doubt her, it would be nice if anyone else had additional info on the situation.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
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    jose, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 3:27am

    well...

    well that will teach him to become a "computer security consultant", wont it?

    seriously, tho, this sucks for him, but it is rather a coincidence that they all got the same spam right after meeting him...

    since when was a few spam emails such a serious offense?

     

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      Stoned4Life, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 4:25am

      and..

      And since when has it been put to so much effort to prosecute?

       

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      Richard, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 4:30am

      Re: well...

      Since the anti-spam legislation that has been passed in the US and in the EU.



      As to it being a coincidence, nah, I'd be willing to bet that 1000s of other people in Greece got the same spam on the same day, spammers tend to spam by IPs, domains or alphabetically. It's no suprise for me and my wife to get that same spam @yahoo.com on the same day.



      The real question is, "When will the government of Greece hire someone who knows more about the Internet or PCs in general?"

       

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        Paul, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 5:25am

        Re: well...

        The real question is, "When will the government of Greece hire someone who knows more about the Internet or PCs in general?"

        More importantly, who will define general computing/internet knowledge? They'll probably wind up hiring some employees brother, who "does websites."

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 7:32am

        Re: well...

        Speaking as one living in Greece, there is no depths to the stupidity of the Government in general. Try these for example:
        • Banning all computer games ('cause they can't distinguish them from illegal slot machines)
        • Arresting UK plane spotters ('cause they don't understand the (admittedly stupid) hobby
        I myself feel very sorry for the straits that this guy is in. It'll probably take European Court intervention to get it sorted out.

         

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          any mouse, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 9:02am

          Re: well...

          Arresting UK plane spotters ('cause they don't understand the (admittedly stupid) hobby..
          Hey!
          hey.. oh, allright.

           

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          , Nov 5th, 2005 @ 12:54am

          Re: well...

          .....Arresting UK plane spotters ('cause they don't understand the (admittedly stupid) hobby



          Goto web.amnesty.org/library/print/ENGAMR510632005 and do a search within the document for the word "planespotters". Amnesty International believes some civil aviation aircrafts have been used by the US secret services to carry out illegal secret transfers of detainees around the world for the purposes of the war on terror (ie depriving random individuals from all over the world of their fundamental human rights, humiliating, torturing and assasinating them so "we", the good guys can be "safe" to carry on with our daily bussiness). This interesting information which has offered a new understanding of the ill activities of the secret services wouldn't have come to light without some people who waste their time with this "stupid" hobby.

           

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    Pete Austin, Oct 31st, 2005 @ 6:44am

    That's All Folks.

    Rick Downes of Radsoft is genuine, but I can't find anything more about this on the Web. Sounds like some angry spam victims made a mistaken complaint to the police, who over-reacted, then Rick kept asking for lawyers and the police had to formally arrest him or look stupid. They occasionally do this sort of thing to troublesome British tourists too.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2005 @ 12:02am

    The guy is in serious trouble

    Apparently, they are prosecuting him not for spam but for drug dealing! In Greek headlines there is another similar case of a guy in Greece who run an Internet Pharmacy and got busted as a drug dealer because in his merchandise of 2700 drugs there were some (he claims 7) restricted circluation tranquilizers like valium. The reason that story made to headlines is that the judge who arraigned him and his good looking American wife turned out super corrupt and was demanding 150,000 euros to let the guy out of jail until trial. He let the wife out just for sex. Now, the local media call the guy a drug dealer and this is it. They concentrate on the judge and his illegal activity. The guy got out apparently by illegal intervention by the justice minister and awaits trial.
    The moral of the story is: 1. This guy will most likely be tried like a drug dealer. 2. The publicity on the other case will hurt him - the judges are nowdays very heavy handed lest they be accused of paid leniency. 3. Technical arguments are worthless in Greece, the judges do not like them because they do not understand them. 4. Computers are considered inherently evil and dangerous by most of the society, even the ones that use them. 5. Do not forget the Greek myth of Prometheus - he brought the fire to the people and was sentenced to be strapped on a mountainside while a vulture was nibbling on his guts - for eternity. This guy should get ready for a similar fate - many years in court battles. 6. It seems to me that he got into trouble most likely because there was some dispute over his fee - that's how trouble really starts over here. 7. He needs a lawyer specializing in criminal law and having connections with judges. This type of lawyer does not come cheap nowdays that many such lawyers are being indicted for corruption.

     

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      Sydney, Nov 2nd, 2005 @ 11:53pm

      Re: The guy is in serious trouble

      Yes, the charges are drug trafficking.

      #6 - there were no fees, ever. There cannot be a dispute, because Rick has only contributed, never charged. Anything he's done computer related or otherwise for anyone here has been pro-bono, as a friend.

      Since he has _nothing_ to do with drugs, and since they cannot indidcate otherwise, we (and our lawyers) are pretty sure the charges will be dropped.

      The plane spotters and the guy you mention who was arrested for dealing drugs actually did break the law - whether we think this is ridiculous or not.
      Rick didn't break the law, this is not a case of Greek authorities obeying the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law.
      It is a case of people so far behind in technology matters that they think they have 'evidence.'
      Given this scenario, where else in Europe would this matter go beyond a complaint?
      1. Computer guy meets travel agent. He demonstrates his proficiency with computers by getting rid of all the infections on her computer at no charge.
      2. Travel agent introduces computer guy briefly to two friends. Computer guy is friendly.
      3. At some point, between 3 and 8 months after last contact with computer guy, but _all_ at the same time, these three people begin to get offers via email for drugs. It is not inconsequential that aformentioned travel agent sometimes emails these two friends and that her Windows PC is _wide_ open, despite computer guy's advice of security hazards.

      In almost any other country, this would _perhaps_ result in a question and answer with computer guy, but more likely would result in a round of laughter and fake serious faces telling travel agent to fix her infected computer and secure her address book.

       

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        deep forest, Nov 5th, 2005 @ 5:40am

        Re: The guy is in serious trouble

        same thing happened on the Fotiou case some months ago.

        greek police had NO EVIDENCE when they arrested the artist (Fotiou) for his project. I also dont mean "they don't have strong evidence", I mean absolutely NO EVIDENCE!

        this is very bad for the country, cause when we are talking about computers, we are talking about "data", which means YES or NO! it means either SOMEONE DID IT or NOT.

        the worst thing is that this police has every right to arrest people just because they ONLY look like "suspicious" to its overzealous policemen. (thats according to greek law!!!). then one gets imediately involved to a judgment process, and has to spend lots of money, lots of time, lots of energy to face a situation, which is definately clear from the begining that will spoil his life.

        just because we are talking about computers, greece is still at its prehistorical age, and computers look like something that comes from another civilization, probably an alien one. thats the MESSAGE they are trying to give to common people, in order to produce fear and have the complete control of new technology (in order not to loose their lovely job positions and authority). even LAYERS ARE AFRAID NEW TECHNOLOGY CASES because both layers and judges are uneducated on computers and they need specialists to explain things starting form "what is windows"! i will be surprised if i hear that they have e-mails and they use it. most of their e-mails are handled by their lovely kids.

        by the way, the artist, must be presented to the police station at the begining of each month like a common criminal until his final court.
        not to mention the amount of money he has paid to layers...
        not to mention how useful the whole situation became for his name and his work in a country called "Greece"...

        i beleive greece needs to find a solution on this theme IMIDIATELY!!!

         

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    Pelasgian, Nov 8th, 2005 @ 3:50pm

    Devil's advocate

    Where they live is apparently a small place. My understanding of the case is that Rick Downes was arrested (and due to his condition immediately released to the credit of the Greek Police) because in a VERY SMALL place, people who he knows received mails that had HIS NAME.
    Ok the headers were forged. But tell you what? You are someone I met, I send you an email that advertises viagra and psychotropics which is engineered as to look spam because it has the headers forged, but still it has my name. Next day you meet with me, if you tell me "cheers the mail mate, can I have some of the good stuff", I could pass you some. If you come bitching, I'd say: "ah, you see this is SPAM and I didn't send it, and I don't know what you're talking about."
    You see, the case is not about spam from "busty Dianna" which was sent to thousands of people all over the world. This is an email, with forged headers, from Rick Downes which was sent to three of his neighbourghs, whom he met in PERSON BEFORE. So, it's not a SPAM case, more than killing someone with an ice cutter is an ice cutter case.
    "SPAM"-look-alike is suspected to be the instrument for a serious crime, that of trafficking. And this case is bad for Greece, regardless of the outcome, because it creates a legal precedent with spamming and alleged spammers in combination with drugs.
    Also, it is a case of SERIOUS anti-Greek bashing from his wife, Sydney, through the internet. At some point I saw in her site MANY SERIOUS DEFAMATION pages.
    One had the Prime Minister of my country in a REDICULOUS POSE and along was a letter for him which was in a fashion as if the Prime Minister of Greece does not command any respect to be addressed better.
    Another had a piece of software from a local firm being rediculed just because it is Greek. Then she involved a photograph of the First Priestess of Apollo in a defamatory context, because ...
    Also, the Olympic games were rediculed because ...
    Why all these, because the couple have trouble with local police? Should I also expect to see things about the GREEK FETA being said because of that?
    All seem removed by now, and I think that protestign to their hosts, the national and EU authorities served its part.
    Another issue is that all over the news they mention "the Swedish". Is he Swedish? I mean, is Rick Downes a Swedish name? Because if it were all over the news that a "Greek" called Jack Smiths was trafficking drugs, I wouldn't be too happy.
    Neither was I happy that Sydney attacks me personally for what I told her in their blog, which was advice, along with cautioning to cut the crap regarding the WHOLE of Greece, ALL the Greeks, ALL of authorities of Greece and EVERYTHING Greek, because they have a legal dispute. I mean, were I to be attacked while I was studying in Britain justify me defaming Her Majesty the Queen for that purpose? Should I unload crap on English Football because of that? Or should I start kicking cats and dogs on the street because of that?

    Hopefully I am not tiring you, but one last thing. In the register it mentions that Rick Downes refused a position with ENISA. This is going to be a secret service grade organisation and personally I thing that something happened with them. I suspect that, because at some point he mentioned being "setup". By whom? And why? Also, this ENISA is in CRETE, next to his place.
    I mean, he's an "international security expert", they are a "European Network and Information Security Agency", which are the chances that he moved there only to turn down a job with them? And I have some dirt for you. Say you worked for a tree lettered, and you got "some stuff" from them, which is in your computer. Which are the chances that a European Security Organisation will let you get away with that, especially at times when people die in western cities?
    If this is the case, it is to their credit that he still has his head on his shoulders. Taking the computer would do! They did!
    Now, go check what she wrote about me, and tell me what you think: http://rixstep.com/1/20051107,00.html
    When I protested, I got all banned, accused of attacking her site et.c.
    That's what I wrote:
    http://www.adslgr.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24710&page=7
    When she LIED that there was a FIGHT in the Greek Parliament. Yeah sure mate! they drew guns too!
    I'm not the one who's closing the site and bannig everyone who expresses a different opinion.
    Do you want translation of what we said in Greek? I'll send them too if you care.

     

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    Pelasgian, Nov 8th, 2005 @ 4:28pm

    No Subject Given

    By the way, this is the message I posted in their "democratic" blog when I got banned:

    If there is a person that would agree more with you that Greece is left behind in technology awareness issues, it's my friends and I, who also have a relavant society in the making for the advancement of information society and technology awareness.

    Certain things that were said here about Greece, Greeks, our State, our Police and our Juridical system are innaccurate. Between not being technology leaders and being corrupt or mentaly impaired there is a middle ground, which if you explore it will make your case so much easier to defend.

    Your strong sentiments are understood, as is what you went through. Indeed the system sometimes backfires, but the honest, honourable, and logical people have nothing to be affraid of in Greece.

    You might still mistrust me because of the intense criticism forwarded your way yesterday, but we are only humans and certain things hurt. Being very sentimental about what were said against my country does not make me against you. I will repeat certain things from yesterday's post:

    - When you are accussed of anything, the other party has to prove the case.

    - The sequence of events, does not give them a cause and effect relation, unless this is established beyond any reasonable doubt. The party who accussed you will have to prove that getting such emails could ONLY have you as a proven source and exclude ANY other logical and probable source.

    - In order to be innocent with NO DOUBT (you are released if there are doubt too!) and be able to counter-sue them, you have to prove that the only source of these emails could not be YOU. If you do that you can ask for remedies such as a public statement to your satisfaction and to have those accussing you cover the expenses of the trial AND also remedy the psychological trauma, and loss of income.

    - You have to be crystal clear wherever these people are your CLIENTS and wherever you offered them services (with a receipt or not), because they could claim that despite your paid services for protecting them, they were subjected to loss of income etc.

    - Offending in a highly publicised manner the whole of the Greek State enforcement and juridical system will not have a happy ending. I am not the only person who "had it" when read the messages in this blog. In addition, the penalties for disrespecting the authorities are DRACONIAN and there are international treaties which can get you even in US soil for publicising what could be considered nationalistic hatred.

    To put it plainly, if you go and tell to a police officer "you are corrupt, your state is corrupt and your corrupt judges should release my friend because he is a computer expert and you are fools not the see that and I am gonna bring all my friends and defame you" I cannot guarantee the results ANYWHERE in the world, not only in Greece.

    Having said that, I would like to repeat that your case has my deepest sympathy, to tell you that I am willing to help you, and to kindly request that you refrain from generalising against my country or its people.

     

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    Pelasgian, Nov 8th, 2005 @ 5:09pm

    No Subject Given

    http://rixstep.com/1/0/20051028,06.html
    Γεστάπω is the Greek for GESTAPO, i.e. General Stadt Polizei, the HITLER'S police. That's what Sydney calls the Greek Police, HITLER's police.


    http://rixstep.com/1/0/20051029,00.html
    This is the picture of our Prime Minister.
    (Yo mate! whazza? Slap me some skin, gimme five)
    Well, the text isn't far from that too!

    http://rixstep.com/1/0/20051104,00.html
    We had a FLAME in the blog, so get the Apollo's priestess with the flame too (Did anyone ask her for her permission having her photo posted THERE?) I'm part of the dynamic duo, you read my messages before, judge for yourselfs.

    http://rixstep.com/1/0/20051106,00.html
    The rogue site is www.adslgr.com. One of the largest sites in Greece. This page originally unloaded crap on systran, a translator, but they apparently somebody contacted them, so they had to "slightly rephrase it" into this romantic novel instead.

    http://rixstep.com/1/0/20051104,02.html
    This is the best "So my name came up, but that's it - it wasn't a formal process."

    When you call it ENISA, it's almost reasonable to say "but that's it". When you call it " European Network and Information Security Agency", well, I don't about you, but it sounds quite involved for me, especialy if they are NEXT DOOR to where you MOVE in CRETE.

    Apart from that, Greeks are technomorrons, but the EU assigned its network security to the Greek Institute of Technology and Research in Crete.

    Don't you see a SLIGHT difference in the perception of our qualities?

    There are lies, damn lies, but what Sydney and Rick say about Greece, would make the devil faint. I don't if he's innocent or not for drug trafficking, but he's the Ernest Hemingway of bulls by far.

    enjoy more here:
    http://rixstep.com/1/0/

     

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      Syd, Nov 8th, 2005 @ 11:20pm

      Got it wrong, duh

      No, pelasgian, regarding your first post on this thread.

      The spams didn't appear to come from Rick, they _appeared_ to come from ACNeilsen.com.

      In fact, nothing on the spams pointed, even remotely, to Rick.

      If the spams had appeared to come from or lead to Rick, we would understand why the police came to us.

      BTW - don't know where you're going with the investigation, but if you know the 'right' people, you will find that Rick is, indeed, Swedish.
      Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

       

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        Pelasgian, Nov 9th, 2005 @ 8:05am

        What puzzles me...

        ... is that while there are 12 people in Sweden called Downes, there are hundreds all over the UK.
        Now, I got alerted by the fact that you newly arrived to a place and you somehow get involved with ENISA, a policing organisation. At the same time, you rent a car that you didn't rent, you rent a house that you didn't rent, you present a Swedish passport but you sport an English name and then there are some reports that you tried to pass on illegal drugs.
        I mean, all services in Greece are taxed and whenever you make a payment, you are supposed to ASK for a receipt. Did you ask, or was it very convenient that in say 6 grand you pocket 1 and forget the whole thing?
        And if for this "under table" transaction you get to fix a computer, don't come out and tell the world that for an hour's work you'd ask 2,000, because not even six years old children say such things.
        Also, make sure that when you deal this way, that you'll keep your part, i.e. you'll FIX the God Dammed computer and your client won't get ads from a viagra selling company AFTER you "fixed" it. I mean, what anti-spam service is that, that it is worth 2 grand or 4 grand and you still get spammed?
        I'll fix it for you for a 100, you won't get spammed and you'll get a receipt too! How's that for a deal?
        Now the things about Pelasgia and other mystic nonsense you wrote about junta and fascist organisations et.c. let me tell you something:
        In Collins Dictionary of Classical Mythology, isbn 0-00-712762-9, is says on page 434: "The Dorians insisted that the Ionians of Attica were Pelasgians, and the Athenians themselves claimed to be autochthonous".
        I'm from Athens, and according to that, I'm Pelasgian. I chose that, because unlike any other handle I tried in my email operator, they had Apollo6078, Hermes2000789 and so on. There was non for pelasgian. So I chose that.
        Who's the "know-it-all" big mouthed blah-blah expert now?
        Now let me ask something else. I mentioned my academic credentials and you try to intimidate me for that? You think I'm gonna be scared and stop protesting for the rubbish you say about ANYTHING Greek, just because now you target your nonsense to me personaly? I refer to "there goes an otherwise promising academic career".
        Do you REALLY think that I am related to ... papalouki@yahoo.co.uk? and that I would bother worming your computer with a windows worm?
        I mean THINK about it! A linux user, would pass a windows worm to mac computer? That's what you charge your clients 2000 for? What for? its comedy value?
        I don't put things in my pipe and smoke them, but doubt this is a case with you. Paranoia has certain limits, which you crossed and left behind light years. Sydney, you are beyond surrealism. Honestly, if you say such things to the Judge, you are CERTAINLY gonna be relieved by court, but I doubt they will let you go, if you see what I mean.

         

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    Max (FLAMINGO), May 11th, 2006 @ 2:41pm

    Pelasgian

    I thought you were supposed to pick him up?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 12:47pm

    Evil ungratefooll greek!!

    The greek arfe only for the taking of the monye of eu and balkans people. they not want work honset dAY in the8ir life and only HATE other people liek Albanians who work hard and coming to their country and make them asamet.They not true greeks anyway like the civilisational ancients greek. tehy bastardises with african peoples from Ethiupal. greeks are hairyh liers and liek to arrest the foreign people!

     

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    Rostislav Siryk, Jan 18th, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    Does spam affair worth getting into troubles?

    Such news always make me curious. Dude lives in successful country. He can just go and make any kind of geek career. Instead of that, he uses his life to get deep into the asshole.

    I can understand motives if spammer is poor person from banana republic but such cases as Downes makes me feel people are the same idiots in each other country, disregarding the real opportunities which their country gives.

    There's thousands of guys from Russia who think: if I'll live in Sweden, I'll build perfect life. In consent with law I'll make my money and live my life honest.

    Yikes. Everyone become a big idiot if allow money rule.

    Poor guy.

     

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