🔑 Key Takeaways
- Be cautious of offers for high-value items at lower prices outside of e-commerce platforms, and beware of fraudsters who use emotional manipulation tactics to gain your trust and scam you.
- Online users should exercise caution, trust their gut feeling, and be aware of possible fraud. Open-source environments should not be relied upon, and companies offering no help in case of fraud or scams should be avoided. Learn from experiences and protect oneself from future attacks.
- Stay clear of criminal activities, prioritize personal well-being, and avoid toxic relationships to positively contribute to personal growth and progress.
- Committing crimes to impress or maintain a relationship is a risky and harmful path that can lead to serious consequences and ultimately, unresolved issues in a relationship.
- Change and good intentions can lead to a positive future, even after making mistakes.
- Brett's greed and desire to keep his relationship led him to commit tax fraud and theft, taking advantage of his job in the Secret Service and risking his future.
- Before entering into a relationship, it is important to examine one's own motives and needs, and to not use the relationship as an escape mechanism. Betraying trust is never justified, and taking responsibility for one's actions is crucial.
- Criminal activity comes with tough choices that can lead to serious consequences. The risks of snitching should be carefully weighed against the potentially longer sentence.
- Cyber intrusions can happen to anyone, even the Secret Service. It's important to take immediate action, and know when to seek help from those with expertise in the criminal world.
- Brett suspected a snitch, shut down a criminal site, and was investigated by Secret Service. Despite suspicion, he passed a polygraph and used distractions to keep his other secrets hidden.
- Crime may seem thrilling, but it's a difficult and lonely life with no real rewards.
- Crime does not pay in the end. Brett Johnson's story highlights the consequences of illegal activities and the resources needed to bring criminals to justice.
- Brett Johnson's story sheds light on the danger of online fraud and the importance of law enforcement agencies in maintaining online security. It also shows the power of family support in turning around a life filled with crime.
- Taking responsibility for past actions and seeking help can make a positive difference in turning one's life around, even after serving time in prison.
- Committing tax fraud can have serious repercussions, including legal trouble and financial instability. It's best to avoid illegal activities and seek legal sources of income to prevent long-lasting impacts on one's life.
- Making positive choices and being a productive member of society is crucial, even in difficult circumstances. Crime can negatively impact one's life and loved ones, and it's important to avoid illegal activities.
- Trust and second chances can lead to a new beginning, even for those who have made mistakes in the past. It's never too late to make better choices and create a positive impact in the world.
📝 Podcast Summary
The Risk of Off-Platform Transactions and Emotional Manipulation in Scams
Selling high-value items at a slightly lower price emotionally manipulates potential victims to overlook red flags and fall for scams. Fraudsters lure victims off-platform offering a lower but half-price offer, and continue communicating over email or phone. To gain the trust of the victim, fraudsters can use shmoozing tactics or even fabricate stories to convince them. Once the money arrives, any legitimate communication ceases, and excuses start pouring in to keep the victim hooked. Often, fraudsters don't sell any product or send a fake one to a shipping facility that never proceeds with delivery. Such ambiguous, off-platform transactions put buyers at high risk as platforms don't cover such transactions.
Staying Safe in the Chaotic World of the Internet
The internet is a chaotic, hostile environment. Online users should be aware of the lurking predators, and not rely too much on websites or hardware security systems. Situational awareness should be high, just like in the physical world. It is better to have street smarts online and trust one's gut feeling when going into a deal online. One should not trust companies that offer zero help when they get robbed or scammed. Open-source environments, collaboration, and tutorials can help people commit frauds like ripping off someone on eBay. However, those platforms' response to fraud was telling legitimate customers that it was not happening, which only made the situation worse. So, people should learn from their experiences and protect themselves from future attacks.
Importance of Personal Awareness and Prioritizing Well-Being.
Being aware of your own environment is crucial irrespective of the platform and security measures in place. Engaging in criminal activities and scams can lead to severe consequences including arrests and tough decisions to make. Helping the authorities in catching others also have its own set of risks. Personal relationships can get affected by addiction and drug abuse leading to bad decisions and rash behaviors. It is important to prioritize one's own well-being and not get entangled in such situations. Remember, investing in someone cannot guarantee mutual feelings or intentions. It is always better to stay away from illegal activities and prioritize people and actions that positively contribute to one's growth and progress.
The Danger of Trying to Impress Through Crime
Brett Johnson fell into a cycle of committing crimes to impress and maintain a relationship with Elizabeth. He had to resort to running counterfeit cashiers checks to survive after laundering all his money to Estonia with her. When his source of income, ShadowCrew, got shut down by the Secret Service, he couldn't do tax return fraud or credit card theft anymore. He conned someone into sending him a Tiffany engagement ring and wedding rings for Elizabeth. His attachment to her kept him from traveling and committing fraud in different areas, making it easy for law enforcement to track him down. Trying to impress someone by committing crimes is a misguided and dangerous approach to relationships.
From Cybercriminal to Informant: A Story of Second Chances.
Brett Johnson, a former cybercriminal, was caught by police for his illegal activities. To avoid severe punishment, he turned informant for the law enforcement agencies and agreed to help catch other cybercriminals. His motive to save his love life and marry Elizabeth led him to switch sides. His cooperation led to the arrest of several criminals involved in credit card frauds and other illegal activities. Despite losing his love and being in jail, he decided to make the best of his second chance. This transformation highlights that a change of heart and positive intentions can lead to a better future.
Brett's Tax Fraud and Theft under the Watchful Eye of the Secret Service
Brett moves to South Carolina and convinces Elizabeth he has a legit job at Secret Service, but he's stealing around $20,000 a week by doing tax return fraud. He works for four hours a day, but he's getting $350 a week and needs to buy Elizabeth things to save their relationship, so he does tax fraud secretly. Secret Service agents watch him in the room but get bored and started watching porn instead. Brett breaks the law from inside the Secret Service offices and commits a lot of crimes, and no one knows about his fraudulent activities. Brett wants to make Elizabeth happy and indulges in strip clubs, which he earlier refused.
The Importance of Being Aware of Motives in a Relationship
Being someone's escape mechanism can feel like true love, but it may not be. In the case of Brett's girlfriend, she only used him to get out of her position in life. It's essential to be aware of one's needs and motives before making someone else a part of their life. Losing oneself in addiction while trying to run away from reality only makes things worse. It's crucial to take responsibility for one's actions and choices instead of justifying them with a relationship or any other excuse. Finally, betrayal of those who trusted you is a despicable act, no matter what justification is used.
The Risks and Consequences of Snitching in Federal Prison
In federal prison, there are two types of people - those who talk and those who wish they had, due to the long sentences being served. The idea of not telling on people is no longer prevalent, although some still consider it a regrettable action. Brett, a hacker, faced the decision of whether to snitch or face a longer sentence. Eventually, he snitched and continued working under the Secret Service, but his laptop was compromised and he was being watched by an underground forum user. This led to the user discovering Brett's work as an informant and threatening to publish confidential information. The story highlights the risks and consequences of criminal activity and the tough choices some people are forced to make.
Brett's experience dealing with cyber intrusions and shutting down criminal forums
Brett worked with the Secret Service and dealt with an intrusion by a cyber criminal named Manos Di who took over their accounts by using keylogs. It took the Secret Service three months to finally decide to format their computer system, and Brett suspected that Max Butler, aka Iceman, may have been behind it. Brett also helped shut down a criminal forum called La Cosa Nostra, which had a keylogger on it, by using his criminal contacts to find out who ran the site. He discovered that the person was a young guy who had already been arrested and was out of prison for working for some people.
Brett's run-in with the law
Brett suspected the kid running a criminal site to be a snitch and was proved right when the RCMP, the kid was working for, set up a keylogger to find information on site users. Brett shut down the site, causing the RCMP to call Washington DC and Columbia, resulting in Secret Service agents coming to South Carolina to ask Brett about his actions. Brett was also suspected of tipping off a person about an investigation but passed the polygraph test and allowed a search of his apartment. Brett distracted one of the agents with naked photos and a porn stash from finding his stash of prepaid debit cards and fake IDs in his closet.
Brett's life on the run as a career criminal
Brett's life of crime began at a young age and continued with him on the run from the law. Despite being caught for illegal activity earlier, he couldn't resist getting back into criminal schemes in Texas and kept at it. However, Brett's life on the road was full of ups and downs, with moments of extreme stress and exhilaration. He had no friends and had to rely on strangers for companionship. Brett had to be agile and creative, squeezing every penny he could from illegal means like tax refund fraud. His life on the run was far from glamorous and was a constant hustle to stay afloat in all ways.
How Brett Johnson's Life of Crime Ended in an Amusement Park
Brett Johnson's life of crime led him to steal nearly $600,000 through tax refund fraud while on the run from authorities. Despite his lavish lifestyle and traveling westward, he was forced to lay low in Orlando and spent his days at theme parks. His downfall came when he logged into an online marketplace and discovered he was on the Secret Service's Most Wanted list. The Secret Service spent significant resources trying to track him down, but he eluded them for several years. Brett's story illustrates the consequences of living a life of crime and the toll it takes on both the individual and those trying to protect society.
The Original Internet Godfather's Experience of Getting Caught and Jailed for Online Fraud
Brett Johnson, once known as the 'Original Internet Godfather' for his involvement in online fraud, reveals his experience of being caught and jailed for 75 months by the Secret Service agents. Brett's knowledge of fraud helped him trick the Secret Service until they caught up with him by going door to door. He faked having a drug problem to move to a drug rehab center with better facilities and escaped from the Ashland Kentucky Camp, federal prison camp, with help from his father. Brett's father, who reconnected with him in jail, motivated him to teach others how to perform fraud. The story highlights the dark side of cybersecurity and online fraud and the importance of law enforcement agencies to maintain online security.
Brett Johnson's journey from prison to halfway house: reflections, realization, and rehabilitation.
Prison gave Brett Johnson time to reflect on his actions and take responsibility for the consequences of his choices. He reached a point where he knew he was the reason he was in prison. He also had a moment of realization when his sister visited him, which made him question if he should continue his criminal lifestyle. He lied and said he was addicted to drugs to transfer to a prison that offered treatment, and that program was beneficial for him. After being released from prison, he went to a halfway house in Florida where his father lived. Despite serving seven and a half years in prison, he initially planned to return to tax fraud, but it is unclear whether he followed through with that plan.
The Consequences of Tax Fraud and Financial Instability
Committing tax fraud may seem like a quick way to make money, but it ultimately leads to trouble with the law and financial instability. Even though Brett's father tried to talk him out of it, he went ahead and committed tax fraud again, but was caught by the IRS, leading to the end of his money-making scheme. He was left with no job and had to rely on his family for financial support, even having to resort to shoplifting toilet paper. However, he met Michelle on a dating site and eventually confessed his past to her, which led to a chance at a new life. The takeaway is that the consequences of illegal activities can have long-lasting impacts on one's life and can lead to financial turmoil.
The consequences of resorting to crime for survival.
After struggling with unemployment and almost losing everything, Brett Johnson realizes the importance of earning an honest living and supporting his girlfriend and her kids. However, his desperation leads him to steal food and clothes online using stolen credit cards. He eventually gets arrested and learns the hard way that crime doesn't pay. This is a cautionary tale about the dangers of getting involved in illegal activities and how they can negatively impact one's life and loved ones. The story also highlights the importance of making positive choices and striving to be a productive member of society, no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.
From a life of crime to a positive impact on the world.
Brett Johnson's life took a major turn when he noticed his sister who turned out to lead a legitimate life. His wife also played a crucial role in bringing out the good that he possessed. The trust showed by people who gave him another chance, helped him get a job and gave him a new life was deeply appreciated by him. Today he has reinvented himself as a speaker and a consultant, working towards making a positive difference in the world. Brett Johnson also recognizes that he cannot change his past, but he can ensure better decisions from here on.