BBC News Probes “Annie Tacker”

This one is being widely reported – from Phil Kemp at BBC News:

There are many unanswered questions surrounding Boris Johnson’s friendship with the US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.

For the past two days I’ve been investigating one of the more bizarre of them: who is her UK-based media manager and is she even real?

Kemp was following up on a detail from a hearing at Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, where Paul Farrelly MP had drawn attention to the fact this supposed person’s LinkedIn profile was using a stock image. Farrelly writes:

Shortly after the session I sent Annie a message asking for an interview. I did not hear back. But I did soon receive a request to connect with someone called “Annie Tacker” on LinkedIn

No one of that name is listed as resident in the UK, and it has since been pointed out by various people on Twitter that this is a joke name: “An Attacker”.

Kemp goes to on describe how the the LinkedIn account subsequently put up a post suggesting that the DCMS was intruding on her “gender and identity” as a “transitioning woman”, before the alleged education details were amended from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to King Mongkut University of Technology in Thailand.

The “transitioning” ruse was of course an instance of the popular strategy of attempting to discourage scrutiny by crying “harassment”, and very similar antics were observed on a Twitter feed associated with Hacker House after Arcuri’s links with Boris Johnson were revealed by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnot at the Sunday Times last month. The account, apparently run by the co-director, accused the journalists of harassing him and staff, including when one of them was trying to take their children to school, and alluded to a family illness. More oddly, the account cryptically claimed that “it’s not @Jennifer_Arcuri company”, despite all the documentation indicating otherwise.

This odd saga has also thrown up some other strange links – it was previously known that Hacker House was working with the alleged Pentagon hacker Lauri Love, but it’s also now come to light that in 2012 Arcuri was associated with Milo Yiannopoulos. This was at a time when Yiannopoulos’s online business venture The Kernal was struggling with debts to contributors – an op-ed by Tim Bradshaw at the Financial Times describes them both in the context of “London’s scrappy start-up scene” around a time when “wannabes, freeloaders and groupies often outnumbered the real entrepreneurs and investors on east London’s Silicon Roundabout”.

More bizarre, however, is that Hacker House’s Digital Marketing Manager was none other than Wesley Hall, a man with a chequered past who has most recently been linked to the Hampstead Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax. Hoaxtead Research broke the story and has the background.

12 Responses

  1. I’d suggest reviewing the comments on Hoaxtead that suggest how Wesley Hall might have superimposed himself on the Hacker House comedy, beore settling on anything as a certainty.

    ‘a time when “wannabes, freeloaders and groupies often outnumbered the real entrepreneurs and investors on east London’s Silicon Roundabout”’

    – Which frankly could be any time in the past 35 (at least) years and might describe the traffic islands of the United Kingdom generally. A cynic, such as myself might observe that such schemes usually fail the genuinely entrepreneurial – because they’re usually designed as carve-ups for the benefit of the vacuous, but suitably connected, few.

    Mr Hall, I’d suggest, is more likely to have been hanging off the back of the lorry, or riding on its axles, than tucked up safely in the cab.

  2. Whilst it is, of course, absolutely correct to do due diligence in the interests of journalistic integrity, Wesley’s self-declared association with Hacker House predates any point that most people would have heard of it.

    “In this video, dated 23 May 2016, Wesley announces the opening of Arcuri’s Hacker House North West:”

    And the Computer Weekly story linking him to Lauri Love is from 18 Oct 2016.

  3. “Wesley’s self-declared association with Hacker House predates any point that most people would have heard of it.”

    Yes it does. A point in time where the project was obscure enough not to draw too much by way of scrutiny – yet had sufficient ‘legs’ upon casual examination to seem somewhat credible.

    Note for instance the Barclays endorsement on the video linked to by Hoaxtead, of Ms Arcuri apparently dressed as Wilma Flintstone doing an odd piece of what seems to be interpretive dance for the largely male, apparently quite hormonal, geek audience.

    Watch it with the sound off you’ll see what I mean. She is quite ludicrous!

    That isn’t a credible business presentation – at least not in my book. But you can fool many of the people for much of the time it seems. Especially if you have big bouncy breasts and know how to use them.

    I think these days we expect the same measure of dignity and professionalism from any credible business speaker regardless of gender. Yet here? The very name Hacker House is the registered trademark of a small, unrelated American family business. – Essentially ‘stolen’ Intellectual Property. It is all highly unprofessional.

    Overall, the Hacker House project might reasonably give cause to form the opinion it was/is dubious in its own right. There merely to ingather soft loans and grants and disappear offshore in a puff of non- achievement, as is so often the way with these things.

    And that’s the point. Wesley Hall’s association with what some of us might consider an ‘obvious blag’ does seem to be largely self-declared. Any link seems to be assumed, not proven to any reasonable standard.

    As is pointed out on Hoaxtead – anyone intent on fraud can register a domain name similar to another, point it to the genuine site, yet retain control of the email relating to the fake domain.

    If I might, I’d like to draw attention to one of the posts of Hoaxtead which reflects upon some of the possible detail here. ‘Fake Name 101’ firstly points out firstly that what passes for an email address on a particular search site actually isn’t;

    “None of this is in any way to defend the buffoon currently occupying Downing Street, not any of his various pneumatic friends. One small point however.

    ‘digital[space]marketing[space]manager@hacker[space]house[no dot][no domain name]’ ?

    That isn’t an email address. Not even a redacted one.

    Interestingly “Hacker House” appears to be the registered trademark of a haunted-house attraction in North Carolina, and the hackerhouse.com domain is certainly theirs. In fact, the brand is very-much theirs, having been nurtured and developed by a small independent business.

    myhackerhouse.com diverts to hacker.house. – both registrants redacted on a search.

    Frankly, hacker.house, from a marketing perspective, is a very weak domain name. And a little underwhelming for a company claiming to be Security Experts. Many commercial users block these ‘trash TLDs’ at server level, because they’re overwhelmingly sources of spam. – Many professional Marketers will strongly advise against acquiring one for that reason; they can degrade your brand. but of course, if the brand is effectively stolen anyway; well that’s not good! Hacker House Limited would appear to be breaching a registered Trade Mark. Were they not £715,000 in the clag, they might be worth suing!

    Here’s the thing though, wesley@myhackerhouse[dot com] does seem to be an address associated with the weaselly one. But, if you own a domain name, you can port it to any site you like whilst still maintaining control over the email. Is it possible that Weaselly Hall, for his own nefarious purposes, is/was creating a false-association with this (IMHO dodgy anyway) enterprise, supported as it was by Bo-Jo? Or at least having enough of a veneer to take in the credulous.

    Another possibility is of course that those singing-up to courses run by this apparent diploma mill are able to access some sort of VLE with a myhackerhouse sign-in?

    Let’s remember – anyone who wishes to create a false impression can type any old rubbish into an email box. And they’ll get away with it, if no-one bothers to properly verify that fake data. The same goes for IP addresses and User-Agent strings etc.”

    Hall will easily be tech-savvy enough to pull off such a stunt.

    “More bizarre, however, is that Hacker House’s Digital Marketing Manager was none other than Wesley Hall”

    My difficulty is that I don’t believe that is an unassailably safe conclusion.

    There is little or no doubt that Hall has tried to give that impression. And for a security firm, Hacker House have shown remarkable incompetence in not bringing him down. That, or they were spectacularly poor judges of competence and character in hiring him!

    The problem being at this stage; if there is wrongdoing afoot at Hacker House, matters that need exploration in the wider public interest, the debunking of Hall’s claim could provide leverage for other matters to also be summarily ‘thrown out’.

    Perhaps this is why the idiot is ‘useful’ to them?

    • What about the photo of Wesley Hall & Laurie Love posted by Raymond Johansen “at Hacker House” on Twitter?

      Annie B Server?
      Any B server?
      Sounds a bit like the word games used to name Annie Tacker?

      • …I think its supposed to, Richard! And what about a photo these days? So two people were in the same place at the same time?

    • I think Annie is on the ball here.
      Really it all just shows that Boris’ involvement with the fragrant Ms Arcuri needs a lot more examination but I feel Boris The Buffoon ( an affectation he does so well) will eventually escape close scrutiny in this matter. Honestly, he’s not too different to Donald the Trump- Boris could shoot someone on Park Lane and get away with it.

  4. That is an incredible amount of effort in an attempt to dismiss the fact that Wesley Hall (@1withtheplanet) works & still communicates with Hacker House employees.
    What motive would you have for doing that?
    The thing is, the proof has already been downloaded, it’s actually still there now if you have the time to look.

    • What motivation? How about getting to the truth of the matter? As opposed to some ultimately-debunkable version of events that might later cause the culpable to get off the hook? It’s called critical thinking!

      “That is an incredible amount of effort in an attempt to dismiss the fact that Wesley Hall (@1withtheplanet) works & still communicates with Hacker House employees.”

      And that’s a blatant strawman! – That issue isn’t addressed at all; what is challenged is the made-link between Hall, Johnstone and Arcuri.

      Wesley hall is certainly a rogue; nobody is questioning that. Likewise, Arcuri, Johnstone and the whole Hacker House nonsense, as is clearly pointed out, is entirely non-credible. And it’s to the discredit of the Prime Minister that he was/is associated with it and Arcuri.

      But nothing presented in relation to this story “proves” anything of substance… Other than the fact that the dodgy among us come in all shapes, sizes and from various sections of society!

  5. […] or consent. The Wesley/Hacker House link was also mentioned on Barthsnotes, where commenter “Annie B Server” reiterated Fake Name 101’s arguments against the […]

  6. The updated piece from Hoaxtead proves nothing further either. What do we have here really? Wesley trying to give the impression he was in with the bricks on something that had a bit of traction but was obviously not credible. The guy makes a living as a con artist and therefore completely in-keeping that he’d pull a stunt like this. Watching that video of her dancing about, and listening to the crap she was talking, she was obviously at the fiddle! Photos? That one of Wesley, Jenniffer and some other guy looks like a cut-and-paste job to me! A pretty poor one at that. I see nothing that proves anthing ecept they’re all a bunch of chancers!

    There are no competent checks on the alleged email addresses or web domains made by Hoaxtead. And really, what was used for “fact checking” there was laughable! Some or other site that trawls social media entries and collates them automatically, mainly aimed at people trying to skim data for sales and marketing purposes! – If you signed on to Hoaxtead as the Queen of Sheeba they’d probably take that as fact!

    So the question has quite rightly been raised about the domains, who owns what? And it’s a very good factual point! Anyone who has ever had a phishing email from somebody claiming to be a bank will have experienced them adding links to real front-of-house bank sites and possibly even have something that looks to the unwary something like a bank email address.

    Right now you could buy BankOfScotLnd.com – point it to the correct website for the bank and start sending out phishing emails using the email addresses. It wouldn’t fool the security savvy, but might catch out the unwary long enough to commit a few frauds and it has been registered in the past if you check the whois entry!

    You do wonder at the real Bank of Scotland not claiming it to protect themselves – but maybe they get their security from Hacker House which, as others have pointed out, is a STOLEN trademark, quite amateurish website and apparently too-slow and/or unconcerned to have bounced on someone taking their name in vein! IMHO Hall and Arcuri are just con artists, in different leagues but just con artists all the same. The Bullingdon buffoon is just another hormonal twat taken in by Jennifer’s assets and meaningless technobabble. They all need talking down, but take them down properly! Not by just throwing any old faecal matter at them in the hope that some of it sticks!

  7. Oh, I also just read Flat Broke with Two Goats (I picked it because it’s the Overdrive Big Library Read right now) and did not care for it either. Mostly, I think the writer was a whiner and I didn’t feel she was sincere when she said their trouble was her fault, too. I think she wanted us to go “there, there, you couldn’t have done better” but I think she could have.

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