back to article Bloke forks out £12m, hands over keys to tropical island to shoo away claims that his web marketing biz was a scam

An Australian fella who made bank from thousands of military veterans and retirees through a 21-step “proven system” of internet marketing must cough up £12m ($16m) in settlements – and is banned from selling any similar programs in future. These arrangements were announced this week following an initial ruling against My …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    The pillage of the scammed

    How many people still fall for these scams every year. You would think as the scam goes on, demanding ever more money without revealing anything useful that the scammed would become suspicious and pull out or investigate in some way.

    Or is it that they are too embarrassed to admit they may have been gullible and continue in the hope their suspicion is wrong?

    The scum who run these things shouldn't be able to get away with it so lightly, I can imagine they have destroyed lives, settling like this is too easy for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But Angela has a working brain...

      Sunk cost fallacy.

      I'd like to think I would be immune, but here I am trying to diagnose a Windows Server issue

      1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

        Re: But Angela has a working brain...

        "diagnose a Windows Server issue"

        There's your problem, right there. Windows Server is basically an oxymoron. Nuke it and start again.



        Sorry, somebody had to say it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sorry, somebody had to say it.

          Of course they did. We all fear what we don't understand. And the constant stream of out of date bullshit about Windows shows there's very little comprehension round here.

          1. rmason

            Re: Sorry, somebody had to say it.

            Unsure why you got downvotes for this.

            Every time any MS product is mentioned here the replies are full of totally false claims regarding what office/win10 can't do.

            You're entirely correct. Many of the anti-MS stuff here just shows a lot of ignorance, they don't know of what they speak. :)

            It's a long list of rants about stuff windows/office is perfectly capable of in an absolutely trivial manner.

            1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

              Re: Sorry, somebody had to say it.

              Are you two particularly short? Because the sarcasm evidently went straight over your heads...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Sorry, somebody had to say it.

                Oh yeah, it's sarcasm, not ignorance! Are all the ill-informed windows rants sarcastic or just the ones that get questioned?

                1. cdrcat

                  I’m not a sysadmin but

                  Windows Server is amazingly reliable. But what happens when you get that one weird problem?

                  I regularly see a story about someone’s epic journey starting with an application level bug and ending with debugging some Linux internals and finally solving the problem (some obscure Intel CPU bug, or driver software issue, or epic network race condition etc). Those journeys begin with the belief that with sufficient motivation you can track down any problem on Linux/BSD.

                  When you watch someone solve a Windows Server bug the “solutions” are very different, and you rarely hear of someone debugging drivers or OS issues.

                  When I was smaller I wrote embedded software, and tracked down a very-hard-to-find bug in a RTOS.

                  Disclaimer: The business I helped found depended on Windows Server, and it rarely let us down.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: I’m not a sysadmin but

                    We just look at the cost/performance ratio, but I must preface that with stating that we have all the required inhouse talent to run Linux - that tends to be one of the biggest barriers for any Windows house to even examine the possibility of a switch..

                    You could say that exactly because of that talent that we won't touch Windows Server, but we have customers using it so we have those skills inhouse too, we just like to limit the number of vendors that could waste our time with BSA/FAST audits.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: The pillage of the scammed

      You'd think. But people can do things against their better judgment because the scam promises them they desire that is hard or impossible to attain by other means - weight loss, wealth, a longer penis etc.

    3. Brangdon

      Re: The pillage of the scammed

      This is about cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. Once you have invested time and/or money into the thing, you want it to be true, and will tend to dismiss any evidence to the contrary. It's part of most confidence tricks. The first step is to engage in dialogue, and the longer the conversation continues the more invested the victim is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The pillage of the scammed

        Microsoft Windows Server is a fine product, if you know what you are doing, unfortunately because you can install it with a shiny windows desktop experience lots of Idiots think they can set it up. Most cock ups I have seen have been caused by letting users at it.

        If you want a scam look no further than the Linux for business offerings, they take something that the community built for free then charge a fortune for support when all they do is google the issue and hope.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One born every minute

    1. Sell a dream

    2. Charge minimal entry

    3. Lock them in and demand more money

    Works for timeshares, training courses, get rich quick schemes...

    People are stupid and exploitable, and cunts like him follow this tried and tested game plan to take money from idiots.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One born every minute

      sounds like Microsoft's business plan...

      1. Muscleguy

        Re: One born every minute

        And that 'religion' which charges entry and for the courses they run and gets VERY controlling and creepy. I reckon the big wigs in the 'religion' after they pay the eye watering sum for the holy of holies are let in on it and given sales targets to recoup their investment.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: One born every minute

          That one started by a (not very good) Sci-Fi author, and now headed up by someone whose name sounds like "miscarriage"? The one that's classed as an illegal cult in France, but has an ominous and imposing-looking building in the Square Mile?

          Never heard of it.

    2. Erewhon

      Re: One born every minute


      1. We have a cloud, its better than your computers

      2. Its cheap to get started

      3. Fuck this shit is unreliable and much more expensive and I've got no computers of my own any more

    3. Erewhon

      Re: One born every minute


      1. Believe in this dude, live forever in paradise

      2. The place you have to visit to show you believe is free to enter

      3. Why am I being guilted to give so much money now and even more in my will....

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: One born every minute

      I've seen this first hand. The "mock auction" was a popular scam on Oxford Street about 20 years ago. People would lose their collective minds bidding on increasingly expensive counterfeit junk because they were so whipped up into a frenzy thinking they were getting bargains.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: One born every minute

        Wow, I'd forgotten about them. Used to walk past several of them on my way to university, wondering why do many people were taken in by what looked like Del Boy from Only Fools And Horses.

      2. mdava

        Re: One born every minute

        I had almost completely forgotten about these "auctions"! They used to be a regular feature of Oxford Street but have now disappeared.

        What happened or changed to make them vanish (as even back then they must have fallen foul of some legislation)?

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: One born every minute

          I suspect of the chancers thus occupied, half of the survivors have gone on-line and the other half are on holiday at one of her majesties rest homes.

        2. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: One born every minute

          I haven't been to Oxford Street for years to say. But I was googling after writing this and there was a Reddit conversation from last month that says they're still operating.

          I used to go in and watch them to amuse myself. They did genuinely give a few bits away to hype up the crowd. I remember getting a sandwich toaster with toasted cheese stuck to it so God knows where it came from. The only thing I kept was a Russian manufactured transistor radio which looks pretty retro so maybe I'll sell it some day.

        3. goodjudge

          Re: One born every minute

          According to t'Internet they're still going on, though not as frequently as they used to be. I went to one in the early 90s, picked up a 5-pack of blank cassettes for a penny that had something very close to, but not quite, the TDK logo, then watched the various plants in the audience 'win' their unboxed luxuries followed by real bids for allegedly the same items in sealed boxes. Thankfully I was a poor student so couldn't have bought anything even if I'd been taken in.

        4. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: One born every minute

          They moved online.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People are stupid and exploitable, ...

      The scams that other people fall for are transparently fraudulent, but the one designed to exploit your (my) weak points is particularly cunning and convincing.

      I listen to a lot of random Radio 4 programming, and so relatively often hear the stories told by scam victims. Mostly they are not stupid, but just came up against an scheme they weren't prepared for or armoured against; or sometimes it just happened to catch them when they were distracted by other problems.

    6. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: One born every minute

      It amazes me just how gullible some people are. There was a woman on TV recently who got conned out of £ thousands by one of those romance scammers based in Nigeria and when she discovered it was a scam she paid thousands more to a "Nigerian private investigator" aiming to get her money back... of course it was just another scam.

      Still we shouldn't victim blame. One day I may become senile and fall foul to "obvious scams". Not everyone is as cynical and mistrusting as me. The fault rests 100% with the scammers.

      1. Robert Helpmann??

        Re: One born every minute

        Still we shouldn't victim blame.

        ... or grammar use, apparently.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: One born every minute

        "One day I may become senile and fall foul to "obvious scams". "

        Or you'll become so paranoid, nothing will get past you, not even genuine offers :-)

        1. HKmk23

          Re: On the wall of my office

          I know I am paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?

    7. macjules Silver badge

      Re: One born every minute

      More golden rules

      #1 Any email into Hotmail or is a scam and usually endorsed by Microsoft since it sends the scams to your inbox and your genuine emails into spam.

      #2 "Free" cloud vouchers (GCP etc) are usually not.

      #3 AWS "free tier' usually isn't.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Organised religion

    1. Make an unfounded claim/promise (He will be back soon!)

    2. Elicit payments (tithe)

    3. Pay no tax

    4. Profit (prophet)

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Disorganised politics

        "4: Become President before the law catches up."

        So, did all that just "go away"?

    2. OGShakes

      Re: Organised religion

      I don't know why people knock others faith? I don't knock the idea other people have of giving large amounts of money to watch sweaty men chase a ball, now that is a scam!

      1. GrumpenKraut

        Re: Organised religion

        > ...sweaty men chase a ball,

        Are you talking about sportsball?

      2. Aussie Doc Bronze badge

        Re: Organised religion

        Wow. Golf's changed a lot since I was a young 'un.

      3. Def Silver badge

        Re: Organised religion

        I guess the point is sports don't promise you anything more than a couple of hours of entertainment.

        I try not to judge people's genuine beliefs (however much I disagree with them), but (outside of exploitation) belief has nothing to do with organised religion which I will continue to judge negatively every day of my life.

  4. Erewhon

    Get rich quick scheme:

    1. You get lots of money for no effort

    2. Join now for not much money

    3. Why have I just spent lots of money but got nothing to show for it, except shame and embarrasment

    1. A K Stiles

      Question 3

      I could tell you the answer, for just one small $10 payment...

  5. baud

    When it's too good to be true, it just means it's false.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    remaining advanced steps of the "educative" program

    arguably, it IS an educative program, it attempts to teach, arguably with limited success (see t&t sections) numerous, invaluable, totally innovative and breakthrough life lessons, namely:

    1) people are stupid

    2) there's a sucker born every day

    3) common sense is not so common

    4) people learn from the history that people don't learn from the history

    5) pay me a well-deserved fee for an in-depth study to analyze the pattern in the above findings...

  7. katrinab Silver badge

    It took them *how* long to catch up with these scammers?

    Russ Whitney (the partner in crime mentioned in the article), has been active since at least 1984, and died just over a year ago. He got away with it all this time.

    One of the many tricks they employed was to book a delibarately too small hotel conference room to make the sales events look really popular, and make sure there's never enough seats.

    Also, why do scammers always like to paint their faces orange?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do tropical islands have keys?

    Where is the keyhole?

    1. Andy Non Silver badge

      In the Florida Keys. ;-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In Epsteins safe!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Sure it's not in the IANA safe?

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      We have to ask Gozar the keymaster.

  9. The Nazz

    Accessories to the fraud?

    This guys "work" is clearly described as a Fraud (though i cannot see any reference to a crime). He and others have had to surrender/repay relatively small amounts (as a proportion) of the proceeds of the scam.

    But what of the accessories to the scam? Advertising agencies, payment processors etc? My guess is zero payback. Shouldn't they have also a responsibility to ensure that all their work, input and output, is legit and above board? The end result remains that they have a (sizeable?) chunk of the victims' monies.

    Otherwise, why not simply start an "advertising agency" and intentionally seek out scammers who have large revenues to dispose of? Must be a fine line between that and money laundering.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Accessories to the fraud?

      "(though i cannot see any reference to a crime)""

      When you have a lot of money, you can pay the "system" to make it go away in a "no fault settlement". Although why you would pay $millions when not at fault escapes me.

      1. CAPS LOCK

        " Although why you would pay $millions when not at fault escapes me."

        Well, you could try asking Ms. Paltrow...

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    To be fair, it was a business education, just not the one they were looking for.

  11. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Old School scams

    IIRC, back in the 1950s there was a guy (presumed, although yes, I believe I have met some con-women) who took out classified advertisements in newspapers.

    "Learn how I make money! Send $5 and SASE to P.O. box <whatever>"

    The Self Addressed Stamped Envelope would come back containing a note:

    "That's how I make money".

    Technically, not illegal. The customers got what was promised. Note that $5 was a day's wages for some at that time.

    (I may be foggy on the details, as I read about it in the newspapers about that time)


    Didn't Grant Shapps do something like this?

    Why yes he did. Quoting from Wackypedia: "In 2012, Google blacklisted 19 of the Shapps's business websites for violating rules on copyright infringement related to the web scraping-based TrafficPayMaster software sold by them.[91][92] Shapps's web marketing business's 20/20 Challenge publication also drew criticism. It cost $497 and promised customers earnings of $20,000 in 20 days. Upon purchase, the "toolkit" was revealed to be an ebook, advising the user to create their own toolkit and recruit 100 "Joint Venture Partners" to resell it for a share of the profits"

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