I have no idea how that reporter tracked him down, but the photos match perfectly. Same haggard face, same chipped tooth. Go look at the photos I and others have taken in my previous posts. It’s almost certainly him.
If you know this person, be aware that he’s a very active scammer and a brilliant liar. I can’t tell you what to do this information, but if you help bring justice, I’d appreciate if you could let me know.
Remember two years ago when I got scammed in the streets of Frankfurt? It seems that person is still at large in Western Europe and they’ve been incidents of people being scammed still in 2011. I just wanted to remind people to be aware and perhaps help other people find out what happened and concentrate photos, aliases and other evidence.
Here are some other people who’ve posted online about being scammed
Also encountered in France, Belgium, Prague and other places (people have been emailing me)
Some more photos of the scammer:
The scammer has also been known to claim he is from Norway as well. Sometimes he is encountered along with a partner.
Aliases I’ve found he’s used until now: Erik Nelson, Peter Janson, Den Larson and Dennis Janson
Fake Papers sent as proof commonly: These are edited from scam to scam it seems. The name of the “father” sending the money changes. You can see below it being “Henrik Jensen”, “Olaf Nelson”, “Erik Janson”, “Olaf Jensen” and so on.
The “father” is commonly using a @hotmail.com, @live.com or @windowslive.com email address, which makes it difficult to trace. I’ve already tried contacting Hotmail to get more info but was promptly ignored. Still looking at the headers of that email, I’ve managed to trace the father sending it from a Spanish ISP (which I’ve also contacted with no success).
Someone claims they used the +44 7854270100 phone number, but is not clear if this is the phone of the scammer or the “father”. This is a German number. It may be the case that the scammer has scamming partners all over Europe and calls whoever is convenient. This seems consistent with the other samples of emails I’ve seen, where the English was even worse than the one I received.
This person is a really, really good actor, with a very detailed, sad and believable story. He will talk about his family, he will show you pictures of his “house”, he will give you a fake skype address (same as his name) he will talk to you on end, without any stress or fear. He has done this dozens, if not hundreds of times. This person is absolutely shameless as well. He guiltlessly accepted an offer to buy him dinner and then bargained for 50 extra euros (with more sad sad stories).
If you see him, what you do is up to you, but by the time you realize you’ve been scammed (usually after 2-3 days when you realize the “money transfer” is not coming) your Police department is probably going to be useless. He’ll be long gone to another city or country by then.
Things I wished I did when I was being sold the story
Ask to go together to the police station to verify his story. He had claimed he has already been there and had filed a police report.
Look more closely at the Bank transfer receipt, which on close inspection was an obvious photoshop.
I also wished I was more cautious of the free email address and the egregious spelling errors in the email coming from an “International lawyer”
Anyway, spread the news and info around and hopefully the more people aware of this scam, the less likely it is that they’re caught unaware and lose their goodwill by being scammed when trying to help someone in need. Also if you’ve been scammed and managed to grab more info (email addressed, aliases, photos, phone numbers) contact me and I’ll add this to the list. If you’ve written about this, link it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.
The more people who know about this, the more likely someone will recognise him during the act and take action to stop him or at least make the victim aware.
Take care and don’t lose your mutual aid feelings just because of this scumfuck.
Reddit justice strikes again. I just found this event unfolding and I thought I’d share the lulz. To provide some context, apparently some guy called [Name Redacted]1 has created some fake online personas, one of which is called Grandpa Wiggly which has a very popular Facebook profile among other things. This fake persona is then trying to drive traffic to his site by posting fictional stories. He then decided to utilize reddit at some point, by posting IAMAs and so on, and eventually he decided to claim that his actual self online is really the grandson of this Grandpa Wiggly.
What happened then was nothing but hilarious. Literaly within minutes, if not seconds, of damning evidence being posted into reddit, exposing the fraud of Wiggly, the evidence in question was removed from the internets. Comments started being deleted. Accounts were closed. Profiles were made private. Photos removed. It became so bad that those who found the evidence had to take screenshots of everything because they knew it was going to be immediately removed. I’ve never seen such an excellent sample of DELETE FUCKING EVERYTHING before, but it was truly awesome. Especially the detective work and the comments of some of the redditors were especially lol-worthy, particularly because Grandpa Wiggly and wordsauce had gone into full blown crisis control mode and were denying the universe.
So remember, don’t try to scam people online, and especially not redditors. Don’t mess with the internets yo. Its serious business!
The person in question has contacted me privately after a year or so after this entry was posted and has addressed my main concerns of his act. Mainly that he was trying to pass a fake persona as real for nebulous reasons. Given this change of attitude and a more mature outlook, I have agreed to remove his IRL name so as to avoid spilling over into his AFK life. [↩]
Was he supposed to send you some money for helping his stranded son from Greenland? If so, I’m sad to say that you’ve been the target of a con praying on people who are nice enough to try and help a stranger in distress. Disgusting I know. This is why I need you to help me track These scum.
At the moment of writing, I’ve been contacted by 2 different people that fell for the same scam. Both of them students who couldn’t afford it. Obviously this bastard doesn’t care who’s life he fucks-up as long as he gathers enough money to move to another country and do the same thing all over again to some other poor guy or gal trying to help.
He’s all over Europe at the moment. He scammed me in Frankfurt on February, then a Belgian 5 days later and now I heard from a Spaniard that was scammed 5 days ago. If this fucker manages to do this once per week, it means there must be at least 4-6 more people, and that is assuming he started this February which is not likely.
These guys are also prepared with fake IDs and everything. The picture on the top, is the ID they sent to the Spanish student who asked for far more evidence than I did, and still fell for it. It’s an obvious fake but while being distracted by a professional conman, it’s easy to take it for real.
Please help us discover the identity of the scammers
These guys prey on some of the most vulnerable members of society. They target explicitly young looking people, students more likely, and Dennis then pretends he is a fellow student down on his luck. By abusing the feelings of camaraderie, they make life difficult for those who are not in the best situation anyway.
What can you do? Post, retweet, email and discuss the info we have. The more widely we spread those photos, the more likely someone who knows him IRL recognises him.
I’ll be posting updates on any new information that comes up. If you want me to provide you with details so you can do some more in-depth investigation, fire me an email.
So one month ago, I was scammed in the streets of Frankfurt. I hadn’t been in the mood to write about this until now but I think that slowly I should get around to doing it. I am also less angry about it now so I can write about it in a less charged way. So this is how it happened.
A youngish looking guy calls me and my girlfriend over while we were walking down the street. He asks us if we speak English. When we confirm, he starts talking about how he is from Greenland, how he is passing through Frankfurt on the way to his country and unfortunately had his backpack stolen from him, including most of his student’s equipment and some of his studies. He introduces himself as Denis Janson.
He claims he’s been to the police to report the theft but as a result he lost his flight and there’s no other one leaving for at least two month and this will lead him to losing his current university year. Knowing how far Greenland is and how it’s still winter, this makes some sense. He claims his ambassador has helped him find an alternative route through Canada which would allow him to reach his country in time and his father, Erik Janson, has booked everything for him but unfrtunately there’s a ferry he needs to take which cannot be booked online. The ferry costs 250 Eur.
The story is elaborate. He keeps talking for about 10 minutes before he even comes around to the point of asking for our help. This gives us a very detailed story that convinces both me and my girlfriend by its sheer complexity and detail, that it’s true. Furthermore he has had a lot of preparation for this. He shows us the sms from the “ambassador”, he arranges a phonecall with his dad to which he speaks in some Scandinavian accent which my girlfriend confirms is authentic (she is in a profession which has a lot to do with linguistics so I trust her judgement). We speak to the “dad” who “wants to confirm I’m trustworthy”.
The plan is that the “dad” sends the money Dennis needs to me via a direct bank-2-bank transfer. He needs to do it this way because Greenland does not have a Western Union branch and the son has had his Debit & Credit cards stolen. Once he does this, he will send me the receipt that the money is on its way and I will then give the money directly to Denis.
If this was proposed from the get-go, I would have refused, however the detailed story, the preparation and the very god acting of “Denis” as a traveller in distress convince me. Both me and my girlfriend think “How would we feel in that situation? Wouldn’t we want someone to help us?”. We feel sorry for all the sudden problems he’s had to face and the fact that he’s stranded in a foreign country. We agree to help.
I provide my bank account number and my name for the money transfer and Denis sends them to his “Dad” who will go to the local bank, do the transfer, scan the receipt and send it via email to me to confirm it’s done. While he is doing this, we start looking for an internet cafe to use to see this. While we are doing this, Denis is telling us the story of how his stuff was stolen (it involves him being too trusting) and the flak he received from his Dad when he told him. He explains what kind of personality his dad has, how he had to move away from home and become self-dependent.
Shit is detailed yo.
At around the same time we find an internet station in the Hauptwache, his dad sends an sms confirming that the transfer is done and the email is sent. I check my emails and see an email from Erik Janson that has this transfer receipt (detailed removed to protect the innocent). On a quick look, it looks legit. Denis made sure that I didn’t pay as much attention to it as he continued talking during this time and quickly asked to show us some pictures of his house in Greenland by using google image search.
It was here that I should have caught the scam. Had I paid a bit more attention I would have noticed the hotmail address and this would have sent alarm bells ringing. I would have then noticed the obvious photoshop of the receipt. But hindsight is always 20-20.
15 minutes later I’m satisfied that this seems legit. I escort Denis to the nearest ATM and I take out 350 Eur and give 300 to him. His “dad” gave us more and suggested we have a lunch with a friend. We dedide to use it to take Dennis to lunch.
We take him to a tavern in the Romer which is fucking expensive without realizing it. As a result, we end up ordering one dish for all together (think Tapas). He continues telling us stories of his life. Guy was convicing and I believe some of the stories must have been actually true. Once we finish lunch, we take some pictures together and this is how I have the one above and the this one. We paid for the lunch with the last 50 Eur that his “dad” gave us.
We then walk to the station and each of us goes on his merry way. We had already exchanged emails and skype usernames and said we’d keep in touch. He even suggested that he invites us to either Italy or Switzerland when he moves to either of them for studies.
The scam happened on Saturday on the 20th of Feb (it was the only way to claim that he could not take money out of the bank normally) We were convinced that he was telling the truth until Monday, by which time I had not received anything yet. I decided to double check the evidence he had sent me. Doing so depressed and angrered me. It was obvious I had been conned. I could find no online profile connected to either his name or his given email address firstname.lastname@example.org . I could find nothing for his “dad’s” email either email@example.com. Looking closer at the receipt, I could not see that it was an obvious shop. The parts with the transfer numbers where obviously written over it as it was missing the normal background. They must have taken this froms somoene and reused it for this scam. Looking even closer, I could see that the email from Erik, originated from Spain and the email address was obviously set up by some Spaniard.
And of course, the money never arrived.
Once I was certain this was a scam, I was disheartened and upset. I posted online hoping people might help but instead of that, I mostly received hostility. I was obvious I wouldn’t receive much help there. I also contacted the police. Yes I know this is not the most optimal option but given that I am stuck in a foreign country with very few direct action oriented friends and online help was not forthcoming, I felt that this was better than nothing. I didn’t expect them to achieve anything but having this guy’s picture on file, well, you never know.
Finally, I did my own investigation on this issue. I still have not tracked “Denis” but I am closer to tracking “Erik” and I believe he’ll feel the heat soon enough.
I was also contacted lately by a Belgian student who was also scammed by Denis 5 days after I was. This means that Denis left Germany immediately and moved to another country to play his con. The Belgian found out my reddit post by googling for Denis’ email and then contacted me directly for more info. He could at least use the pictures I put up to give to his own police. It seems thus that our scammer is quite the traveller and he is doing this act all over Europe.
I am not angry about the money. I am angry about the betayal of trust and the erosion of my feelings of mutual aid this scam has led to. It made me less willing to trust and help people and this angers me. It angers me that while I will control myself to retain them but also be more cautious, others will discard them altogether. Other people scammed in this way will not forever shut down all cries for help, even if they are legit, because they’ve been burnt by this asshole.
I wouldn’t mind if Denis played on greed to con people. Greed is something that should be attacked and if he had tried this with me, I wouldn’t have complained. However abusing people’s goodwill and thus making the world a more hostile place is inexcusable in my mind. He needs to be stopped.
How can we stop him? There’s no easy way. Police are useless, especially for catching a two-bit crook like him. We need to do it ourselves. We will possibly not “catch” him in any meaningful sense but we can certainly discourage him from doing this in the future if we found out his true identity. But finding that out is the difficult part. I was hoping to use the six degrees of separation to find him but very few people even tried to do the small effort of re-tweeting or asking their friends to ask their friends and so on.
You never know, perhaps this blog might prove me wrong.
So once we know his real ID, what do we do? There’s a few ideas in my mind but I think the only one which can actually do anything is social pressure.Drop his dox. Find out his friends and relatives and inform them of what “Denis” is doing. Make him feel the heat so to speak. Perhaps this won’t work. Perhaps this is a crook for life and has likewise friends who won’t care. Who knows unless we try though.
In any case, someone who lives from con to con cannot be the most happy guy. His own psychology will be his own worst enemy as he keeps getting to know people and then stabbing them in the back. I doubt anyone can sustain this kind of lifestyle for long. Perhaps this was a short-lived conjob that he tried for a bit of extra cash before going back to his normal and legit life. If so, all the more reason to uncover his IRL identity.
However sad a life this “Denis Janson” lives however, the sooner he is stopped from doing this scam, the better for all as less people’s feelings of mutual aid will be spoiled. And that to me is enough a reason to track him down. If you agree with me, then try to spread the word.