Feeds

Oil heir loses $6m in 'CIA-Opus-Dei' malware murder scam

Pianoman got played for six years

High performance access to file storage

A pair of US conmen managed to swindle $6m from a jazz pianist through one of the strangest virus-related blackmail scams imaginable.

The odd tale began after the great-grandson of an oil industry tycoon, jazz pianist Roger Davidson, brought his PC in for repair back in August 2004, believing it to be virus-laden. Computer repairman Vickram Bedi, 36, from Chappaqua, New York, first stung Davidson for inflated data retrieval costs and charges - also telling him his machine had infected others in the repair shop.

Bedi and his girlfriend Helga Invarsdottir, 39, then cooked up a far more ambitious and implausible scam. The duo teamed up to claim they had discovered evidence that Davidson's life was in danger while disinfecting Davidson's machine.

Invarsdottir, posing as a CIA agent, claimed a Polish priest affiliated with Opus Dei had put out a contract on Davidson, a bizarre idea that would stretch credulity even in a Dan Brown novel. She subsequently tricked the gullible Davidson, 58, into handing over $160,000 a month in "protection money", paid through regular payments to Bedi's Mount Kisco, New York store.

The scheme ran for a scarcely believable six years before it unravelled - we suspect after a relative of Davidson got wind of the scam - and the authorities were called in to investigate. Bedi and Invarsdottir were subsequently arrested last week, just as they were preparing to leave for Iceland.

The New York Times has more on the bizarre tale here. Net security firm Sophos, which brought the odd episode to our attention, notes that the scam illustrates how conmen can use lack of knowledge about computers to scam the unwary - a reason why the more internet savvy need to keep an eye out for their vulnerable (possibly elderly) relatives. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.