Dan or Daniela? A Tale from Costa Rica

From an old advert on Facebook, dating from 2008

Investment Opportunity – up to 2000% return in the next 4 years

On September 7, 2007, Hurricane Felix made landfall on the North Atlantic region of Nicaragua. The hurricane’s devastating winds and rain leveled the old-growth tropical forest on a gigantic scale.

Because of the extensive damage, the Nicaraguan government issued emergency contracts for the Timber Recovery Project to private sector companies such as Valcor S.A., which was chosen to head the recovery efforts within a large segment of the disaster area. Valcor is uniquely suited to this task since they own one of the largest sawmill and lumber processing companies in Nicaragua and because they have timber and mining concession agreements in place with all of the municipalities involved, approved by the government.

…Please be aware that there are only a limited number of shares available at the class A level (25% of profits) as we have acquired several large investment companies into the project, totaling $40 million at this point. We have also sold approximately $1 million in individual shares.

Please visit our hurricane relief website at http://www.hurricanefelixhelp.com/photos.html

Dan Chambers
Premier Investment

Chambers made the posting to Facebook in his own name, and Costa Rican contact details are given. Although the advert promises returns over “the next 4 years”, the company has since disappeared and the links are dead.

So, did anyone manage to get rich quick from the scheme? Details are scarce, although some googling suggests not. And according to a news report in El Nuevo Diario dating from August 2010, the director of Valcor – a certain Val Pacheco – appears to have got into some legal difficulties around accusations of money laundering (the report mentions “Velcor”, but other sites show this is a misspelling of “Valcor”).

Of course, none of this is Chambers’ fault – he was just a manager – but I’d have been embarrassed to have been involved in any capacity. Perhaps Chambers had better luck the following summer, when he was advertising as a gold bullion seller on Tradekey.

This is of some interest to me; back in 2009 I received a couple of goading comments from Costa Rica from someone using the name “Daniela Chambers”. Both appeared on posts about Dominic Wightman (who sometimes uses the name “Dominic Whiteman”). In the first post, I explained Wightman’s attempts to manipulate Tim Ireland and me into attacking a person against whom he has a grudge. Here was “Daniela”‘s response:

It looks like you have been played, Richard. I wonder what Whiteman found out about you when he was collaborating with you?

The second post concerned a list of abusive questions that had been sent to Tim Ireland, and which had a Costa Rican phone number appended. I showed how the questions looked very similar to an essay written by Wightman, which Wightman had posted to his own site after Tim had received the questions but before Tim had written about them on his blog. “Daniela” had a theory:

The similarities would be explained by Ireland dropping a key stroke logger onto Wightman’s computer at some point when they were communicating and grabbing a sneak copy of the article, which was presumably sent to Wightman first. Or maybe it is those cheerleaders again messing with your leftie minds ; )

“Daniela” also gave an email address, which was very similar to Dan Chambers’ personal email address (both use only the same part of the surname, followed by the same two initials). A look at Dan Chambers’ Facebook contacts, meanwhile, lists Wightman; Wightman was also advertising on Tradekey as a bullion trader around the same time as Chambers (this was not long after Wightman had declared bankruptcy).

I’ve emailed Dan Chambers to ask if he was “Daniela”, but I have received no reply. Alternative explanations are (a) someone else created the “Daniela Chambers” identity, using Dan Chambers as a model; or (b) there is really a “Daniela Chambers” living in Costa Rica, with a similar email address to that of Dan Chambers, and an independent association with Wightman.

UPDATE: Adrian Morgan has left a comment below, with further information about Wightman’s links to Chambers. Adrian used to be associated with Wightman’s website, but he split from Wightman when he discovered that Wightman was dishonest. Adrian and I probably disagree on some matters of politics, but we both agree that one should either argue openly or agree to disagree. The idea of using sockpuppets or manipulating the internet to disseminate false information would be repellent – both as a matter of ethics and as a matter of personal dignity.

UPDATE 2: Chambers’ involvement with Wightman is also discussed in this new post by Tim Ireland. He quotes an email which Wightman sent to Adrian in September 2009, which includes the following:

I am going to do the following:

…6. Tim Ireland take-down (Sunday – a day before he releases a vicious take-down on me) Author: Dan Chambers, a pal…

Wightman soon after published an attack on Tim, which for some reason took the form of Wightman being interviewed by a fictitious lawyer from Venezuela named Olivia James. As Adrian notes below, the name “oliviaj772” was also used to post videos of Wightman to Youtube; the YouTube channel gives Costa Rica as the location.

Wightman has also responded to the above on his own website:

The little known blogger Richard Bartholomew (Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion) has been at it again – trying to stir up trouble. This time Bartholomew smears a friend of mine who lives in Costa Rica. The bemused friend happened to chat with me over the weekend and asked me who this Bartholomew was. I had to inform him that Bartholomew is a deceitful little left wing blogger who makes John Merrick seem kissable; that Bartholomew is my electronic stalker’s lackey and that he writes a blog about religious nuts but that it is fatally flawed as he is too scared to mention Islamists. “Ah,” replied my friend and so we continued chatting about Tamarindo surf.