Computer Techs Turn Normal Virus Removal Into Multi-Million Dollar Scam

from the opus-dei-has-infected-your-computer dept

Lots of people suspect that the various companies out there who promise to clean viruses off your computer are a bit of a scam -- and, apparently, in at least one case, it turned out to be a huge scam. Apparently a guy working for one of those companies, Vickram Bedi, realized that Roger Davidson, who brought in his laptop to have it cleaned of a virus, was a wealthy composer (and heir to a fortune). So, rather than clean up the virus, Bedi and his girlfriend, Helga Invarsdottir, worked out a scam that bilked Davidson of somewhere between $6 and $20 million.
When asked to remove the virus from the laptop, Mr. Bedi allegedly told Mr. Davidson that his computer had in fact been attacked with a virus so virulent that it also damaged Datalink's computers, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Bedi told Mr. Davidson that he had tracked the source of the virus to a remote village in Honduras and that Mr. Bedi's uncle, purportedly an officer in the Indian military, had traveled there in a military aircraft and retrieved the suspicious hard drive, prosecutors said.

In addition, Mr. Bedi told the victim that his uncle had uncovered an assassination plot against Mr. Davidson by Polish priests tied to Opus Dei, according to prosecutors....

In addition to the thousands of dollars charged to secure Mr. Davidson's computer, Mr. Bedi and Ms. Invarsdottir allegedly charged thousands more to provide 24-hour covert protection for Mr. Davidson and his family.

Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini said the couple charged Mr. Davidson about $160,000 every month for bogus security and other services. At the time of their arrest, Ms. Invarsdottir had $1.6 million in a bank account and Mr. Bedi had $6 million in a separate account, Mr. Marraccini said. Those accounts have been frozen and computers and business documents were seized by police, Mr. Marraccini said.
According to the article, this scam only came to light after law enforcement was investigating Bedi and Invarsdottir for another scam, suggesting that this may have been an even bigger scam, with more targets.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Anyone who manages to scam 6 million bucks for a computer repair deserves to keep whatever he got. I've said it a million times, completely ignorant people shouldn't have money. Its our duty to take it from them every chance we get.

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Re:

    Y'know, I have to say that this sort of shit happens every day. It's just not usually so obvious of a scam. Usually it's a "consultant" who sells the company on some "advanced services" that they can provide that is far outside the scope of the internal staff.

    Once the ink is dry, they (if you're lucky) pretty much ignore you unless you're willing to pay for 'programmers fees' or the like. (If you're not lucky, they bring these 'issues' to your attention.)

    So, while I think all these people should DIAF, I especially want to hear the marrow crack on the 'manager' who thought that was a good idea.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    ...people fall for this? Forget engineering, I'm going to become a con artist.

     

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  4.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    Re:

    You can call your new company "Griftech International".

    I think Homer Simpson already has the "I GRIFT" vanity plate, though...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually come to think of it, I might be able to get pretty far with "Trust me, I'm an engineer"

     

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  6.  
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    interval (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    Re:

    @imafool: "Anyone who manages to scam 6 million bucks for a computer repair deserves to keep whatever he got."

    Why? So plain honesty has no place in your world view? The guy deserves to be ripped-off because he hasn't taken the time to learn about crap he really doesn't give a shit about to begin with? The victim here contracted a service from a con artist. Maybe he should have vetted the business. Maybe he shouldn't have been so trusting. I suspect the guy is not in IT. This is why people hire people, isn't it? To get things done for us that we don't know how to do for ourselves. And for that the guy deserves to get conned?

    Come on.

     

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  7.  
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    Angry Puppy (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Just Proves you can't buy smarts

    if( Smart != Rich )
    {
    Ripped_Off = TRUE;
    }

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Honestly, did you even read the story? He believed that an IT firm has an uncle in the Indian military that is a general and that they uncovered a plot for assassination....

    He deserved to have his money taken if he is that dense. You don't need to know a single thing about IT to see this is a scam.

     

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  9.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:25pm

    @ Ima Fish: refine it to rich people deserve no mercy.

    Perfect example of inherited idiot. Since he's probably so rich that a few million out in cash didn't affect him, (probably just his accountant noticed much later), he *fully* deserves to "lose" mere numbers (that he had no hand in creating, nor gives value to) as "ignorance is no excuse".

     

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  10.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Just Proves you can't buy smarts

    I think it'd be more like:

    if((!Smart) && (Rich))
    {
    Ripped_Off = TRUE;
    }

     

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  11.  
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    interval (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, I read the article. The guy was stupid. It doesn't change the fact that I was raised one way, and you were obviously raised another. The vic has obviously been raised in a somewhat sheltered life. Another thing; this is probably not much of a hit to him. He'll still be rich after this, and hopefully a little wiser. But deserved to be conned? Then lets all just run side businesses as pimps prostituting 9 year old girls and assembly lines of children putting together cheap consumer crap for .12 cents an hour, I mean, what's the difference? If its ok to con stupid people, shit. Lets get down to some real business.

     

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  12.  
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    Jay (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:34pm

    Re:

    Agreed. I have NO sympathy for stupidity.

    That is TOO funny though.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Having read your business plan, I am very interested in funding you.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    TN, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:37pm

    "...an assassination plot... by Polish priests tied to Opus Dei..."

    I think after receiving this info, if not beforehand, I would've involved the police.

    The fact that no-one in his circle of family and friends found some parts, or all of this, incredulous is quite surprising. I'm guessing, the guy does talk to others close to him about what's going on in his life?

     

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  15.  
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    Ryan, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    Umm...what a dumbass

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Then lets all just run side businesses as pimps prostituting 9 year old girls and assembly lines of children putting together cheap consumer crap for .12 cents an hour, I mean, what's the difference?"

    The difference? Because the "victim" in this case was scammed willingly. I see nothing willing about child slavery. I have kids. When I put them to work they want to quit immediately.

    If you can't see the difference between an idiot willingly giving away 6 million dollars and child slavery, I can't really help you much.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I agree, I don't see how the victim being stupid (which it sure sounds like he is) makes fraud ethical.

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    I am the minister of the interior in Nigeria. I have 324983 b-jillion dollars for inheritance you are got. In order to process moniez I needz your account infos. For the bank. Then I will transfer 5 of american dollars into account, then please send check for 10,000 dollar to me, then I will deposit another dollar or 5 in swiss francs to account of your cousin's, uncle's, 3rd roommate in swiss city of belgium. Then please send check to me for 7.5 american pesos and then I will transfer the ba-jillions to an offshore account in america for transfer funds to check bank on the water in rio.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:49pm

    Its not yet April fool's day!!

    Did you pre-publish your next year's April fools day post?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Angry Puppy (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Just Proves you can't buy smarts

    That's also true. I was implying the personal attributes rich and smart have to be in equal proportion assuming that the poorer you are, the less guarded you need to be. Ah, the vague nature of software engineering specs! This shows the need for comments in even the simplest code section.

    I would also like to add that Roger Davidson is obviously smart, I should have used 'sophisticated'.

     

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  21.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    I have to admit that this guy should have seen this coming even if, as is clearly apparent he knows nothing about the workings of a computer.

    Surely, as things escalated he'd have paused to think of how completely unreal something like this guy having a general in the Indian Army is, as close to the square root of zero the chances are that said uncle would commandeer an official aircraft that would fly to Honduras to grab a hard disk is and then fly back again (at which point we have to be closing in on the highest cost ever for a consumer grade hard disk), and how completely insane the idea is of Opus Dei is of cooking up such a plot in Poland when there's a far better supply of ultra-conservative priests are in Spain which is where Opus Die is headquartered?

    None of this raised any kind of alarm bell?

    Now I realize that some people have been raised in such a sheltered way that they'll believe just about anything but Davidson might just as well have lit a neon sign at his house saying "Sucker Lives Here".

    To borrow from The Bard "A fool and his money are soon parted".

    Sorry interval but this guy was practically inviting this to happen.

    The larger issue of whether or not the majority of companies promising to remove malware form your hard disk are scammers (IMHO, they are) seems well illustrated here.

    Truth, as it's been said, is stranger than fiction.

     

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  22.  
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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I didn't say it was ethical. I said it was our duty. Our economy depends on intelligent people making intelligent monetary choices. When ignorant people spend money, we end up with products such as the Snuggie and KFC's Double Down. Thus, it's our duty to ensure the ignorant have no money to spend.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Yaniel (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    I can't help but think.

    when i read stories like this, I can't help but think... if you're that damn gullible, you deserve it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Yaniel (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re:

    forget the whole virus thing... an assassination plot by a polish priest linked to opus dei? you don't have to be computer savvy to realize you're probably being scammed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Will Sizemore (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    While I agree that foolish people and money don't mix well, I also think its not our 'duty' to scam them. It would be far more honorable to sell your services of 'street smarts' to the sheltered.

    Unfortunately, these consultants are too often the perpetrators of such scams.

    I've long believed that virus and malware removal service providers were scammers so I learned to do it on my own. No one can protect my data as well as I can.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Kingster (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Wow. This takes 419 to a whole new level.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ...I'm looking around the corner right now on watch for my wife.
    Or Snuggies for dogs...

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2010 @ 5:12pm

    I don't get why people need anybody to deal with virus.

    To remove any virus just make a backup of the original state and install that every week or like internet coffee shops every night, you never will have a virus that last more then a week on your systems.

    How hard is to hit the button "restore".

    ps: Of course the data is in a different partition than the OS for this to work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    How can it ever be your duty to do something unethical? Or are you trolling?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    nasch (profile), Nov 10th, 2010 @ 7:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    For very large values of "probably".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 2:53am

    Re:

    You've hit the nail on the head. It's always annoyed me when TV shows and films have scenarios where something really bad happens and no one involves the police.

    I guess from now on I'll have to give them a break. Afterall, there really are retards that stupid.

    Like others have said, this retard deserved to lose his money and then some.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Dave, Nov 11th, 2010 @ 4:19am

    Gullible?

    Does the "victim" actually live in the real world?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Proffer (profile), Nov 11th, 2010 @ 4:30am

    wow..

    ummm... wow...

    Maybe I'm just used to seeing scams like this on the internet (hello, 419?).. but how can anyone seriously buy into what these people were saying? Really.. HOW??

    It's like a paraody of the tv sci-fi series "Chuck", IRL. How does this guy have millions if he's so stupid?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 18th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Restore

    most viruses hide in your system restore, so restoring your pc to get rid of it will not work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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