If the Internet is a series of tubes, then this is the catch-basin.

the tux500 scam of the Linux community

Date/Time Permalink: 04/17/07 06:08:44 pm
Category: General

UPDATE 4/20/07: For the record, if it turned out that Accelerated Marketing were deceptive in selling this idea to devnet and helios, and they, too, weren't fully aware of the return on investment and the risks involved, I'd be ready to listen. But each day they continue to race around hyping the scheme is one more day that possibility becomes less and less likely.

devnet cracked first.

helios has so far been MIA, but devnet charged in like usual. His site currently has him screaming denials about being involved at all with the tux500 scandal - "nothing! I barely know the guy! what project?" Protests at being lumped in with this project, and suddenly claims he won't have time for it. Mind you, not "We weren't doing anything wrong." Just "Not me, dammit, I was at the movies!"

Which I'd be inclined to say "Leave the guy alone", if I'd had a moment's peace from these two crooks for the past two years while they warp the Linux community with their little games. Just remember folks, if you were INCHES AWAY from $350,000... (that's how crooks think. To them, their Bahamas vacation is as good as booked.) what would you do? How desperate would you be to hang onto it?

Well, I even went over to try to draw him out. Was he really, perhaps, the innocent victim of helios and the "Acceleration Marketing" outfit, or some other scenario. OK then, let's talk. But no, no confessional noises were made. Fine then. As a matter of fact, I'd think that devnet was actually the scam artist here more than helios.

I mean come on: he says he runs the L4L *for* helios!

For somebody not involved, he sure seems to have a big stake in the deal.

And so we continue. Because God knows, the pollution of our Free Software community is going to continue if we do nothing. I'll be digging some more into this fun little event we have going on here, and posting what I find.

devnet invited me to see this thread on LXer:
And here we are again! devnet and helios, working together again to stir up a ruckus. It seems like the Spanish Inquisition, while they post harassment and insults trying to coerce money out of the community, while the community says things like:

"am an avid Linux user, and while my contributions have been small, few and far between, I will have no part in your name-and-shame campaign."

"I hate when people stand up and claim to make representations on my behalf, especially for something as inane as splashing Linux on a car that goes fast then turns left."

r.e. helios: "Couple of those I just spoke with, briefly expressed in somewhat less gentle terms that the above shows much arrogance on the part of a blog-writer who is *urgently* attempting to pull in increased web traffic to his/her Linux "Advocacy" blog."

Hear! Hear! Hear! And maybe you'd say, "So stay out of LXer for a while!" Well, there is no 'out' for us. The same thing is happening all across every website in which community Linux members can meet and discuss. There's the Dynamic Duo, flaming and bullying and demanding money. You cannot type a URL with the string 'Linux' in the title without getting there and finding devnet ad helios trying to shake you down for money. Always, the story is the same. They claim the support of "millions" of Linux users and developers, anybody present who disagrees is dismissed as heretics. "Pay us money, or we'll ruin your online reputation.", plus a lot of posting through bogus sock-puppet accounts to make it appear like they have a pile of support, is what it amounts to now. I barely see the damn car mentioned anymore.

Something I didn't notice before: In the earlier attempt to sell Firefox their car story,

...they suggested that the contributors could have a contest where the highest contributor could get a ride in the car. I still haven't tracked down the final story on why the Firefox people skipped this golden opportunity (Ha! Ha! Ha!), but now there's the competition being set up between the Linux distros and between the countries:

...thus setting distros to compete against each other. This is a common tactic of multi-level marketing scams and pyramid schemes: set up a false competition and exploit people's desire to "prove themselves worthy" No wonder there's been so much 'my distro is better than yours' coming from devnet and helios: a divided community is an easily scammed one.

"Did you know that donations to the Tux500 project were being tracked by distro? Better hurry up and get in there - you don't want Ubuntu thinking they're better than you, do you?"

Very easily exploited psychological weakness.

Turning to an unrelated story:
Scams involving advertising on race cars may not be common, but they do happen. Here's one good example:
This article covers a separate scam perpetrated on the NASCAR circuit, as opposed to our Indy 500 scam. Quote:

Putting to use his bogus credentials “Leffingwell represented to various companies that he would advertise their products on his race vehicle, sell merchandise featuring the company that advertised, and display the company’s products at NASCAR events.”

Long story short, he was successful to the tune of more than $249,900. John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri announced today as part of a plea deal Leffingwell was convicted of wire fraud and failure to appear in court:

“This occasional NASCAR driver falsely portrayed himself as a successful professional, and took advantage of the sport’s popularity to defraud numerous businesses,” Wood said. “Today he is being held accountable for his deceit.”

I'm just pointing it out: Look, it does happen! One victim of the above reported scam was Playcraft Boats, a leading member of the deck-boat market. Which goes to show, even a large, major commercial company can fall for this - one could imagine that a bunch of computer hobbyists, by comparison, would look like an easy target.

The full series on the tux500 scam:
Is the Tux500 racecar advertizing project a scam? Just asking the question...
Tux500 scam - news and links history Showing the circular links and promotion.
the tux500 scam of the Linux community A blogger cracks, more false promotion, an example of a racecar advertising scam perpetrated recently in NASCAR.
WHY the tux500 promotion is a pump-and-dump scam An in-depth analysis of driver stats, and some very serious cases of extortion, threats, slander, and intimidation on the part of the scammers.
The Final Analysis of the Tux500 Scam The source of the news story on indy500.com. A final summary.
Further Developments since I broke this story:
Dear Newsforge: I am not devnet. Newsforge links to devnet and says that's me. Best thing to happen to devnet and worst thing to happen to me. Other developments.
DC Parris of LXer to Linux community member: shut up! I wouldn't have half the problem with these thugs, if they didn't abuse EVERYBODY who crossed their path.
tux500 crew caught rigging Digg - with screenshots! Somehow, even documented proof of their own admission of blatant spamming fails to get them shut down. Wake up, Internet!
Are the tux500 people really all THAT bad? Or, why being on tux500's case 24/7 is one of the most important and necessary things I've ever done.

Give some consideration to chronological order. At the beginning, I was groping around, and chased a lot of dead ends before I honed in on the important facts.

Follow me on Twitter for an update every time this blog gets a post.
Stumble it Reddit this share on Facebook

suddenly the moon