A wealthy oil heir whose family is on the lam for international evasion finds himself with a computer virus, only to be fleeced for $20 million by a tech-savvy couple who convinces him the Illuminati is trying to kill him. Add planted GPS tracking devices, Polish pirates, Roman Catholic Opus Dei initiates, hard drive in Honduras, an Indian Military operative… and a photo with President Obama?
In 2004 wealthy composer and heir to Schlumberger Ltd. oil fortune Roger Davidson was having problems with a computer virus, so he took the hard drive to his local computer store, Datalink Computers of Chappaqua, New York. Davidson was a n00b about computers, and he was worried about losing what was on his computer.
It contained years of music he'd written, plus information and copies of e-mails between Davidson’s family and lawyers about trying to transfer a chunk of family money to the US from Lichtenstein, where it seemed they were taking a little break from a lot of tax problems, in several countries.
Icelandic Helga Ingvarsdottir, 39, and her boyfriend Vickram Bedi, 36, began creating an elaborate larceny-by-extortion scheme by telling Davidson that his computer had a virus –- but not any ordinary virus. No, Davidson and his family were in grave danger because they were being targeted in a conspiracy by Indian black-ops and the CIA, and got Davidson to pay monthly payments to their company for protection from the groups out to get him.
According to the pair, one of the groups out to get Davidson and his family were Polish priests from the Opus Dei sect, which many of you may recognize from The DaVinci Code.
I think it's easy to compare this story to a movie, and The DaVinci Code is the first one I thought of thanks to the Opus Dei reference. But I'm guessing that Bedi and Ingvarsdottir were so willing to cast themselves into a film, as wack jobs are wont to do, that they were more likely thinking of 1995's Hackers, which had its very own "Da Vinci Virus."
Bedi and Ingvarsdottir told him that US and French governments had planted viruses on his computer, and along with Opus Dei, had hired high-tech hackers to try and recover his family's unpaid taxes. And apparently, just like in the movies, they would stop at nothing.
[Side note: why does Opus Dei get blamed for everything? Just sayin'.]
Bedi allegedly explained that he had the contacts and resources to track down the source of the virus. But what they needed was for Davidson to cooperate, and to grease their wheels with some of that family money. Both Bedi and his girlfriend used tactics of isolation and fear to groom Davidson into paying for protection from the fictional group of international conspirators.
Police finally became suspicious in August when two local residents reported finding GPS devices attached to their cars – Davidson had been told that locals were out to kill him; the people who discovered their cars rigged for surveillance were supposedly spying on Davidson on behalf of the shadowy international conspiracy group.
While Davidson donned his tinfoil hat and hid in a living room fort made entirely out of Dan Brown novels, he paid Bedi and his girlfriend for "protection" off of his Amex card. According to the Bedford-Katonah Patch (newspaper),
"During the six-year period Bedi told Davidson? that he had traced the source of the virus to a hard drive in a remote area of Honduras, according to a press release.? Authorities believe Bedi told Davidson? that he had sent his uncle—whom Bedi claimed was an operative in the Indian Military—on a successful reconnaissance mission to retrieve the drive."
"Bedi further claimed that his uncle obtained classified information that Polish priests affiliated with Opus Dei were attempting to possibly harm Davidson?.? Bedi also told Davidson that the Central Intelligence Agency had subcontracted him to prevent attempts by those Polish priests to infiltrate the United States Government, all according to a press release from the Westchester County District Attorney's office."
Authorities estimate that over a period of four years Davidson paid the pair upwards of $20 million for what could be the most expensive run of Norton Antivirus in history. We don't know for certain that Norton can rid you of involvement in the greatest political and religious conspiracy of the past 2,000 years, but we have heard it's pretty damn good.
Police arrested the DaVinci pair last Thursday. They are currently being held on $3 million bail and are being charged with first-degree grand larceny. Seized at the time of arrest were $150,000 in cash, vehicles and jewelry, and business records; interestingly authorities are saying that there are "absolutely" other people involved in the elaborate scam, and the investigation is still open.