The Darknet As Medium for Proof of Life K&R Deals AKA OpFOQ
Last week someone pointed out a story about how the Qatari government or relatives of some Qatari’s that had been kidnapped on a falcon hunt had started a darknet site and a fund in bitcoins for information on their whereabouts and return. This story intrigued me so I went looking for the site and someone on Twitter kindly pointed to it and the twitter feed with the address. I went to the site and took a look at it and then started looking at the larger picture of who the Qatari’s hired to do this as well. What follows are my thoughts on using a darknet site like this for proof of life and or transactions like this as well as the company that the Qatari’s turned to to do it for them. Of note is that this attempt was closed down as soon as the story came out in the press so that is an added twist but given the things I have seen it makes total sense why a little light on the subject would make the “company” hired by Qatar to close shop and run away.
Global Strategies Council Inc:
As reports online had mentioned, the “company” Global Strategies Council, was given 2 million dollars up front for work attempting to get proof of life for the abducted falconers. I decided to look further than the reporters (at least as much as they reported) and found some interesting things concerning this alleged company and the person(s) involved in it. First off, the company is so stealth that you have to really dig a fair bit to get to the guts of what it is. Even then, you really do not get much detail on who is in the company, who works there, and what it does exactly. The hinge seems to be on this “shoe salesman” or “Shoe Mogul” if you will, Miltos Goudamanis and no, it is not Militas as you see in the reports in the news. His real name is Miltos and he has a rather obscure past, unless you just go with the shoe angle.
Miltos is evidently the international sales guy for “Naughty Monkey” shoes, a crappy ass site that sells shoes and poorly for a number of years attached to Cyprus. Now, one lately hear Cyprus and think first off of money laundering and banks and so did I. I checked the Panama papers and he is not in there but generally everything is pretty sketch around this guy. Naughty Monkey is the most solid hit for this guy that you can backtrace, so now one has to ask how does the Greek Al Bundy get to the point of dealing with international terrorists and asking for an advance of 2 million dollars to set up darknet sites eh? That question kept ringing in my ears as I dug deeper into the inception zone.
If you look at all the data above in the screen shots you can see that this guy has no real experience with military or national affairs so how does he suddenly become a director or chair at this Global think tank? Furthermore how does a guy who makes less than 10G’s a year is getting a net of 499k?
SHOES MUST BE SELLING LIKE NO TOMORROW!
This is starting to smell like some rotting carcass in the San Diego sun….
So yeahhhh, this “company” this think tank specializing in… In what? Well, fuckall really, is being run out of this condo it seems in San Diego according to all the records I could find. In fact the phone number to the place also matches with a land line for the area. Not one thing about this company says it has offices in Washington DC at all. Even though their site makes all kinds of DC imagery and allusions to connections therein… Obliquely that is.
Saaaaaaaayyyyyyyy.. is that office condo space zoned for this kind of fuckery?
Looking at their site you have to just ask yourself after reading it all; “Is this Enron?” because they seemed not able to tell you exactly what they did either and look what happened there huh? There are no employees, no experts listed on their rolls and certainly very little on Miltos as to his history or education for these kinds of things. If I were the Qatari’s I would be asking the guy who hooked this all up what cut of that two million he got. I am just gonna lay it out here in plain language;
- Company site is poorly made and has no real data
- No employees
- No history
- Two million up front and we get proof of life!
This all screams scam and when the whole operation was shut down I think we all got the same feeling about it huh? How are the Qatari families feeling about this? Is this guy just an opportunist shoe hawker or is there more? So far as I can tell this guy has been trying for years to get USGOV work and hasn’t been able to land anything. So a little grift for a cool two million and a cheap darknet site/twitter account is easy peezy.
About that darknet site….
The idea behind this site was to allow the hostage takers a medium to connect with the alleged “middle man” Miltos, to get in touch as well as maybe open source this thing so that anyone with information could leave a tip. Now, on the face of it this may be something of use if you keep it really down low and release that information only to the hostage takers right? I mean you leave this on the darknet and then publish it in the paper you are only gonna get trolls right?
I went to the site and checked it out. It was a clone of the global leaks site (using their frame) and you could create an ID and drop information there. You could log back in and see what responses came from Miltos and his crew but when I looked there were no other info drops that I could see. I signed up and got a number just to see how it would work.
Basically this was ill thought out and deployed so once again I think fly by night and not really meant to gather real intel on the status of the poor Qatari’s who have been jacked. Of course, it is now all shut down according to the Twitter account for the “Op” so so much for gathering information of proof of life for the families of those Qatari’s huh? I will keep an eye on the site to see when it comes down but generally I suspect it will just sit there on some rented space littering the darknet for years.
Thoughts on Darknet as Medium for Ransom:
Aside from thinking that this whole thing was just a grift by this guy Militos and his wife, the notion of using a site in the darknet as a means of proof of life is iffy at best. I should think that the terrorists or whoever that took these people is not surfing the darknet in the first place and would just as easily pick up a sat-phone or regular phone and call the Qatari government with their demands. These arcane measures just isn’t their shtick man.
For that matter just use a cutout gmail account and PGP huh? What the fuck! This whole debacle is just an exercise in how to pull off a short con on a lot of families looking for answers about their lost loved ones. If I were Qatar, I would be asking this Ali Hani about his connections to this Greek guy in San Diego tootsuite man. I am sure the money is spent already anyway…
Oh and as for the hacker angle of “OOOH SCARY HACKERS IN THE DARKNET MAKE SITE” cut the shit media! Anyone with half a brain can stand up a site in the darknet so cut it the fuck out. There was nothing spectacular here other than the lede that looked good for clickbait.
Now.. About those lost Qatari’s….