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Creating a fake paper trail in the paperless era

While fraud has in some respects remained the same over hundreds or thousands of years, the tools used to commit fraud have certainly changed.

Years ago, people would commit fraud by creating false receipts and the like.

Now they commit fraud by creating fake websites.

When baseball player Melky Cabrera was found to have ingested a banned substance in violation of Major League Baseball’s anti-drug policy, Cabrera noticed a possible out in MLB’s rules.

The idea, apparently, was to lay a trail of digital breadcrumbs suggesting Cabrera had ordered a supplement that ended up causing the positive test, and to rely on a clause in the collectively bargained drug program that allows a player who has tested positive to attempt to prove he ingested a banned substance through no fault of his own.

So how could Cabrera “prove” that he inadvertently ingested a banned substance?

San Francisco Giants star Melky Cabrera created a fictitious website and a nonexistent product designed to prove he inadvertently took the banned substance that caused a positive test under Major League Baseball’s drug program….

Cabrera associate Juan Nunez, described by the player’s agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, as a “paid consultant” of their firm but not an “employee,” is alleged to have paid $10,000 to acquire the phony website.

Unfortunately for Cabrera, the ruse didn’t work:

MLB’s department of investigations quickly began asking questions about the website and the “product” — Where was the site operating from? Who owned it? What kind of product was it? — and quickly discovered that an existing website had been altered, adding an ad for the product, a topical cream, that didn’t exist.

Now Cabrera is in much more trouble than he was originally. But this is something that James Ulvog has been saying for years – because, regardless of the technology used to perpetrate fraud, the consequences of fraud are always devastating:

Remember when you tossed a rock out into a calm lake? The ripples of the splash spread far. You can see the ripple bounce off a rock or the shore and have a reflected ripple spread across the lake. If the water is very calm, you can see the ripples spread out a long ways from the initial splash. It is the same way with fraud. The devastation just spreads and spreads.

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2 thoughts on “Creating a fake paper trail in the paperless era

  1. That is really creative!

    Not surprising it unraveled. There are also electronic breadcrumbs that would give you away.

    Now, if you set up a fake site *before* taking the banned meds, you’d have a better chance. And if you set it up in a jurisdiction that isn’t friendly to people asking questions and threw in a bunch of other ‘meds’ that have weird ingredients, your odds would go up. Then you could do a screen print that had a real date stamp.

    In this case, the dummy web site sort of wipes out any claim to unintentional use. If the player was talking to the FDA investigator, then there’s a risk of criminal charges for making false statements.

  2. Pingback: Fake website used to support claim of unintented steroid use by baseball player « Attestation Update – A&A for CPAs

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