Tuesday, August 21, 2012

UPDATE: The reddit "confession" is probably a hoax

Previously there was a "confession" on reddit by a person who claimed to be top echelon in the Zeek Ponzi scheme.

I had copied it here and posted it as I didn't have time to analyze it for how true it is. The initial reaction seems to be 'it fits what we know'.

As it turns out, it fits a little TOO WELL.

Two of the responses from this alleged confessor did not help.

Then I check the image itself, as many people pointed out some logical errors on it.

I performed "Error level analysis" on it. It shows some definite manipulation around the "VIP Points" section. (Not that I am a forensic image analyst)

I am now quite sure that the picture itself was real, but the VIP points were embellished.

As it turns out, it was. Here's the original (Thanks to skeptic "Jimmy")


And this is the manipulated version:


The "backoffice" picture was manipulated from an existing image that shows only 8000 points, and cut down in size to disguise the origin.

This puts SEVERE doubt on the veracity of the confession itself. While I am not about to dismiss the entire confession as fake (that would be dismissing the entire claim as fake because ONE proof was fake) the "confession" could NOT be verified as most of the "confession" can be constructed from publicly available information, and the rest imagined.

Right now, my personal view is the confession has 25% chance of being true. (75% chance of being fake)

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  1. Although this is very unlikely, it is theoretically possible that he photoshopped the backoffice to "recreate" what was true because he felt he needed to show more data. For example, I myself have photoshopped documents because I had lost the original copy and creating a 'fake but correct' copies was the path of least resistance.

    But he loses all credibility now, especially for a Reddit IAmA. If I were him, and the events did actually happen, I would post some information that few others could corroborate, such as some specific details about the RCE he attended, or what Paul, Dawn, Darryl, Troy, Keith were wearing or said that day. Or create a SHA1 hash of Dawn's phone number and anyone else who has it can do the same to verify the hash, but protect Dawn's phone number privacy.

    Me thinks Kasey should write a hub on 'how to verify claims anonymously online' with different techniques that allows someone to remain (mostly) anonymous, prevents revealing any private data, yet allows others to corroborate or validate the information. The SHA1 (or other hash) of Dawn's phone number is a great example. It is possible one could discover Dawn's number, but we add the weight of multiple data points together to gauge the story's credibility.

  2. I'm really not a grammar and spelling Nazi, but having read the original and so-called confession, I had my own doubts because it was riddled with errors. Spelling errors. Grammar errors. Any professional who had an interest in publishing something as important as that confession should have run spelling and grammar checks prior to posting. The fact that the person fails to name him/herself, yet makes no mention of involvement with an attorney for personal protection, furthers my doubts. It's a shame that Zeek happened and hurt all it has - worse that Burke will get away with it, as a 4 million dollar fine is nothing in comparison to the 60 million lost by those of us who believed...Frankly, I believe it is very unlikely anyone will see a dime of their "purchase"/"investment" returned. What I find beyond humorous is the "Zeek Certification Training" I had to pay for -- you know, Attorney Kevin Grimes on "How to AVOID portraying Zeek as an investment opportunity"....Ah, the irony

    1. 375 million was paid out... to top affiliates.

      Though in this case, you need to trust the legal process. Burks may have settled with the SEC, but the AG's office and other agencies will bring their own charges.