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Internet Fraud Casebook by Joseph T. Wells

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Chapter 36. Wanted: Your Money

JONATHAN WASHER

At first he seemed like a friendly businessman looking to fulfill customers' wants and needs through the various services and products he offered on different Web sites. But Blake Styles of Cape Coral, Florida, was quite the clever con artist. He seemed to have just what you needed (or could get what you wanted) for a reasonable price. He sold guns, scopes, binoculars and camera equipment online, and later branched out to offer professional services to CEOs and CFOs looking for employment and to corporations searching for executives — for a nominal fee. He found the employment services side of business picked up significantly when the economy took a turn for the worse. Blake used several different Web sites to entice his victims. He would keep one active until the complaints from swindled customers rolled in and the Internet hosting company banned him. When this happened, he simply moved on to a new hosting Web site and targeted new victims. His modus operandi did not change, only the names of his victims.

Blake advertised his items for sale on several Web sites as an individual. But he also used his company name to offer employment services to CEOs, CFOs and other executives. Blake's communication with each customer and subsequent victim was steady and seemingly professional. His method of correspondence was typically e-mail through free services, such as Yahoo! or Gmail, which required no verification of the user's identity.

Blake Styles ...

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