Tracking down a con artist with PACER

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10 Responses to “Tracking down a con artist with PACER”

  1. knoxblox says:

    Wow. I consider the Bells quite lucky they haven’t run afoul of criminal enterprises more powerful and efficient than themselves, and haven’t been permanently relieved of certain body parts…say thumbs, ears, or eyeballs.

  2. awjt says:

    This series is great… it has given me a bunch more techniques to use against my oppressors.  Thank you Ken.  Two thumbs up.

  3. David Karger says:

    I see a business opportunity here.  I’d love to stick it to the spammer/scammers, but don’t have time to do this kind of digging myself.  How much would it cost to _pay_ someone like Ken to track down and punish a spammer for me?  Obviously he invested a lot of time and energy in this one-off investigation, but supposing someone made a business of it—how much could he automate so reduce the time and skill needed for each case?

    I’d see payment for this as a kind of contribution to society aimed at cutting down on spammer/scammers, so I’d be willing to pay for at least a few hours of work by (say) a smart teenager following a script for how to do the work.

    • jackbird says:

      In a functioning society, they might have things called “taxes” whereby everyone pays in to a kitty from which public services, including the salaries and operating expenses of “detectives,” “district attorneys,” and “federal prosecutors” might be funded.

      On a less depressing note, when my family ran a scammer to ground in small claims court back in the 80s, we were approached by an attorney who in his words was “collecting judgements” against this particular scammer in hopes of reaching some sort of threshold at which more serious charges could be laid.  I’m not sure whether my family took him up on it (I was a kid).

    • E T says:

      Read the “Anatomy of a Scam Investigation” blog and you’ll find the script.

  4. lavardera says:

    I’m only going to find this satisfying if the scammer goes to jail.

  5. colinadams says:

    These articles are fascinating, not just as an example of how to build a case against a scammer, but also how to think about and research a complex subject using mostly online tools.  This should be required reading for several disciplines of research, as a demonstration of thinking outside the box.  I am sure many people the Bells have scammed ran into dead ends, but the information was there the whole time.  

  6. Ken Popehat says:

    Thanks again, Cory.  I am glad people are enjoying it.

    For what it’s worth, I plan to talk next (as soon as time permits) about where and how to report such things.

    I’m thinking of doing this again, fresh, from a new scam, and want to focus on scams directed at the elderly.  Happy to take suggestions for new targets, if anyone has gotten one (or especially if anyone’s elder loved one has gotten one).

  7. Petzl says:

    The face of a con man:  Branden Bell’s myspace page. 
    Note the prominent “UST” markings.
    http://www.myspace.com/270869128/photos/1094171#{“ImageId”%3A10637179}
    The guy looks the exact opposite of what he is depicted as being.

    [bboing handles URL-ifying wierd, so clicking on the above will get you his page but not
    the specific picture.]

  8. All good wishes Ken.  My pet hate is those people who tour the world touting ‘cures’ for autism.  I have a special kind of hatred for those charlatans.  Although I do understand the hatred for people who rip-off older folks.  A great target for your efforts. For me, it would have to be very vocal and public exposure for these parasites.

    (edited to appear less upset and/or likely to hurt some of these people)

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