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Fake "Ask John Lott" Web Site Steals His Identity, Seeks to Discredit Gun Researcher | 8/5/03 | 2nd Amendment Sisters

Posted on 08/05/2003 8:52:26 AM PDT by pabianice

----- Forwarded message from ---- -

FYI! You all should tak note of this, in case you start hearing things... By Page=/Nation/archive/200308/NAT2003080 4c.html

Gun Statistics Expert John Lott Victim of Identity Theft By Jeff Johnson Congressional Bureau Chief

August 04, 2003

Capitol Hill ( - Dr. John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the most widely cited research on civilian use of firearms against criminals, has been targeted by an online identity theft scheme, he disclosed Friday.

Lott operates his own website through which he makes available the raw data for the research cited in his most famous book "More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws."

Running a search for Lott's name on the Google search engine Friday morning, found hundreds of links to pages talking about Lott and dozens of links to pages containing material written by Lott. The search even, if pursued long enough, yielded a link to Lott's official web page.

But the Google search also displayed "a sponsored link" for the web page ""

"Ask John Lott: You can ask him any question you have about gun control or his books," the paid advertisement claimed, followed by a graphic indicator showing high interest in the website.

The only problem with both the advertisement and the website is that neither was authorized by Lott.

"I think 90-some percent of people who look at it will probably think it's done by me," the real Lott told Friday. "When you look at the front page, it's not exactly my writing style, but it ... has my picture, it has a letter on the introductory page that [purports to be] signed by me."

The former senior researcher at the Yale University School of Law believes the creator of the website is committing a civil violation, if not a crime, by appropriating Lott's identity.

"They're using my name, they're taking it and using it in a way that I don't agree with," Lott said. "I think stealing is what it is."

The home page of the fraudulent site greets visitors with the salutation, "Dear fellow gun owner."

"I find that gun owners are usually pretty good at keeping themselves informed about the politics and issues surrounding gun control and gun rights. However, many of us just don't have the time - or the ability - to keep abreast of every new twist and turn in the fast- changing - and confusing - world of politics," the unknown creator of the fraudulent website writes. "That's why I decided to have this site made."

The page provides a link to "Click here to ask me a question" and is signed "John Lott." The biographical information on the "John Lott's Background" page is mostly accurate, with the exception of an apparently sarcastic reference to the pseudonym "Mary Rosh," which Lott began using in Internet chat rooms discussing his work after receiving harassing and even threatening telephone calls from participants in the chats.

Lott surprised at 'effort and expense' to discredit him

Lott believes the motivation for some person or organization to create the fake website is apparent.

"The person or the group, whoever it is that's doing this, wants to use my name to advance causes with which I disagree, by directly saying that I support things I don't support" Lott said. "The person is also using it to try to discredit me in some way, by putting out into the public debate statements that will be attributed to me that were not made by me."

Lott believes whoever is responsible for the site must be extremely angered by his research, considering the cost of designing and maintaining a website, subscribing to a commercial email response service and purchasing advertising from the most popular Internet search engine in the world.

"It's not only the effort, but they've gone to some expense with regard to this, too," Lott observed. "Some of these ads and stuff that they've put up ... these are not cheap things to do."

Fake site's creator responds to questions, claims to be Lott

Questions sent using the link provided received an automated response:

"That was a great question. Thanks for taking the time to ask me," the creator of the fake website wrote. "This email you're receiving right now is automatic, just to let you know that I know you exist. I will reply to your email shortly."

The reply went on to falsely imply that Lott had reconsidered his support of the right of law-abiding individuals to sell personally owned firearms to other law-abiding citizens without government permission, repeating claims of "anti-gun lobbyists" and attributing to Lott the conclusion, "it suddenly appears that maybe we need to check our assumptions." The email is signed, "Good luck. John Lott."

In other email messages reviewed by , the unknown author claiming to be Lott inaccurately stated Lott's position on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act currently under consideration by the Senate. Lott supports the legislation, which would block lawsuits against gun makers, distributors and dealers when criminals misuse a lawfully sold firearm.

"This is not John Lott's website," one angry reader familiar with Lott's true positions wrote to the site's author. "Why are you pretending to be a website actually run by Dr. Lott?"

The reader was even angrier when he received what he called an "outrageous" response.

"Why are you pretending not to believe this site? I believe, if you look at my track record, you'll see that everything I've done in my entire career has been upfront and straightforward," the Lott imposter wrote. "Why have you decided now to question me?"

Again, the email written by the creator of the fraudulent site claimed to be sent from, "John Lott."

"I've tried talking to the Internet Service Provider to try to get information on who's running the website and they have been unhelpful," Lott said (what a surprise -- Ed.). "They basically said that I would have to get a criminal subpoena to find out who is doing it."

Bogus website operator may be guilty of federal crime

A "whois" database search for the domain name "," revealed that it is fraudulently registered to "Mary Rosh" at the nonexistent "Center for Truth." The alleged organization's mailing address is listed as "380 Main Street, Washington DC, New York 10012."

When called the telephone number listed for the domain registration, an unidentified female answered the phone. When asked about the website, she placed her hand over the mouthpiece of the telephone and said, "It's somebody asking about the John Lott website. What do you want me to tell them?"

A male voice responded, "Just tell them you asked around and no one really knows anything about it." The female repeated the response as she had been instructed and terminated the call.

Because the Internet, by its very nature, is an interstate entity, federal laws govern its civil or criminal misuse. A former Justice Department attorney, who spoke to on condition of anonymity, said the operator of the website may intend it as a "little prank, but he could be in for a big surprise."

"Fraud by wire, radio, or television" (18 U.S.C. 1343) is a federal crime:

"Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned ... or both."

Depending on the circumstances involved, the crime is punishable by fines of up to $1,000,000 and imprisoned for up to 30 years.

The former prosecutor said the intentional misappropriation of Lott's photograph and name, combined with the emailed responses attempting to convince readers that the site is really run by Lott most likely also constitute identity theft and could be subject to both criminal and civil prosecution for those acts, as well.

"This person or persons could end up bankrupt, in jail for years, and barred by the court from ever even touching a computer again as long as they live," he speculated.

Lott would not say if he has contacted law enforcement authorities directly about criminal prosecution of the website's operator or operators, but he is taking action.

"Things are moving a little bit more slowly than I guess I'd like," he admitted. "I'm going to talk to some lawyers, to see what other options I have, next week."

Google apparently removed advertisement, but would not comment

Michael Mayzel, public relations representative for Google's advertising department, said the company will not discuss specifics regarding any advertiser's account for privacy reasons. But Google does, he explained, have a standing policy to protect individuals, such as Lott, whose names are being misused.

"When we receive a complaint from a trademark owner, our review is limited to ensuring that the advertisements at issue are not using the trademarked term as a keyword trigger," the policy states. "If they are, we disable those keywords from the ad campaign."

Google considers an individual's unique name to be that person's trademark in the same manner that the unique name of a business would be considered the property of that business.

Mayzel would neither confirm nor deny that Google had taken any action regarding the advertisement, but more than a dozen searches conducted Friday afternoon for variations of "John Lott" and "Ask John Lott" did not result in the ad being displayed.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bang; banglist; identitytheft; johnlott
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This felony should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Seems certain they are likely to find a nest of smarmy liberals behind it... 'for the children'...

Any Freeper investigators out there want to try and find the criminals involved?

1 posted on 08/05/2003 8:52:27 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: *bang_list
A related article is also posted here: Gun Statistics Expert John Lott Victim of Identity Theft .

Click the Gadsden flag for pro-gun resources!

2 posted on 08/05/2003 8:59:35 AM PDT by Joe Brower (Socialism is the opiate of the intelligentsia.)
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To: pabianice
I am not well versed in "E-law", but wouldn't the ISP be legally liable for knowingly hosting a fraudulent web site? I mean, Lott has contacted the ISP and told them about the problem, so they know now. Anyone?
3 posted on 08/05/2003 9:00:00 AM PDT by HurkinMcGurkin
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To: pabianice; Joe Brower
I hope that they catch the Rat Frauds responsible for this. It would be nice if they worked for one of the Rat drawfs running for President.
4 posted on 08/05/2003 9:02:39 AM PDT by Grampa Dave (I think the Americans are serious. Bush is not like Clinton. I think this is the end," said Uday)
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To: pabianice
Here is the Whois results. Note the name servers at the bottom...

Domain ID:D98296683-LROR
Created On:27-Jun-2003 22:10:30 UTC
Last Updated On:27-Jun-2003 22:16:48 UTC
Expiration Date:27-Jun-2004 22:10:30 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:R91-LROR
Registrant ID:GODA-03418410
Registrant Name:Mary Rosh
Registrant Organization:Center for Truth
Registrant Street1:380 Main Street
Registrant City:Washington DC
Registrant State/Province:New York
Registrant Postal Code:10012
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.9179132591
Admin ID:GODA-23418410
Admin Name:Mary Rosh
Admin Organization:Center for Truth
Admin Street1:380 Main Street
Admin City:Washington DC
Admin State/Province:New York
Admin Postal Code:10012
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.9179132591
Billing ID:GODA-33418410
Billing Name:Mary Rosh
Billing Organization:Center for Truth
Billing Street1:380 Main Street
Billing City:Washington DC
Billing State/Province:New York
Billing Postal Code:10012
Billing Country:US
Billing Phone:+1.9179132591
Tech ID:GODA-13418410
Tech Name:Mary Rosh
Tech Organization:Center for Truth
Tech Street1:380 Main Street
Tech City:Washington DC
Tech State/Province:New York
Tech Postal Code:10012
Tech Country:US
Tech Phone:+1.9179132591
5 posted on 08/05/2003 9:06:07 AM PDT by sc2_ct
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To: pabianice
Here's the whois for, note that the name servers once again are shared...

Peretti, Jonah (EGLJTYIIMD)
45 Main Street
12th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201


Administrative Contact:
Peretti, Jonah (JP28089)
45 Main Street
12th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
917-202-1779 fax: 123 123 1234
Technical Contact:
Network Solutions, Inc. (HOST-ORG) namehost@WORLDNIC.NET
21355 Ridgetop Circle
Dulles, VA 20166
1-888-642-9675 fax: 123 123 1234

Record expires on 15-Dec-2005.
Record created on 15-Dec-2002.
Database last updated on 5-Aug-2003 12:06:47 EDT.

Domain servers in listed order:

6 posted on 08/05/2003 9:07:40 AM PDT by sc2_ct
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To: pabianice
Here is another site operated by the same people, trying to further discredit John Lott (this one appears to be under investigation though due to the fact that there is a registrar lock on the domain name):

Do note however that "Mary Rosh" appears to be a fake name, taken from a previous situation (you can read more about this by doing a google search for "mary rosh" - it's a long story and sort of off-topic).

7 posted on 08/05/2003 9:16:03 AM PDT by sc2_ct
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To: pabianice
he can also complain to the people who register internet names and take possession of the name. Internet squating is not allowed the way it used to be. Especially for fraud.
8 posted on 08/05/2003 9:19:24 AM PDT by longtermmemmory (Vote!)
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To: pabianice
Read about Jonah Peretti
9 posted on 08/05/2003 9:26:49 AM PDT by Charles Martel
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To: pabianice
I guess that the most suspicious thing so far is that is registered to on Jonah Peretti, who is known for his use of the internet to distribute emails between himself and Nike (yes, the shoe company) over the internet to cause damage to their brand name. You can read about it here, and it is typical leftist:

Coincidentally, he is an employee of Eyebeam in NY, who uses the same name servers as both and

Jonah Peretti himself is/was a student at MIT where he worked in the media lab. He is well known for being one of the revolutionaries in the area of using the internet in a viral method to further his causes. This would be my prime suspect.
10 posted on 08/05/2003 9:29:48 AM PDT by sc2_ct
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To: Charles Martel
Coming soon: The Jonah Peretti perp walk.
11 posted on 08/05/2003 9:31:12 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: pabianice
I have met John and he is a kind soft spoken person who has worked hard to find the truth. One thing he hates is taking sides and joining mobs. This is a man who does not deserve a mob attacking him.
12 posted on 08/05/2003 9:31:33 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Here's to Hillary's book sinking like the Clinton 2000 economy)
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To: bmwcyle
I'm not making judgements, I'm just posting the openly available information that leads from the site to him, and the fact that it does fit in with how his previous methodology would tend to indicate.
13 posted on 08/05/2003 9:34:52 AM PDT by sc2_ct
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To: sc2_ct
Interested parties may wish to contact Mr. Peretti's employer:


45 Main Street, 12th Floor

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Tel. 718.222.3982 Fax: 718.222.5621

14 posted on 08/05/2003 9:36:03 AM PDT by pabianice
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To: sc2_ct
I understand that. It is just a shame when a humble man gets plied on when the truth hurts the liberals.
15 posted on 08/05/2003 9:36:57 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Here's to Hillary's book sinking like the Clinton 2000 economy)
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To: pabianice

The site ( is running:

 Apache/1.3.20 Sun Cobalt (Unix)
 on Linux.

At first blush, it would appear that they haven't been keeping up on their security patches. Someone really should notify the people at:

OrgName:    Performance Systems International Inc. 
OrgID:      PSI
Address:    1015 31st Street, NW
City:       Washington
StateProv:  DC
PostalCode: 20007
Country:    US

TechName:   PSINet, Inc. 
TechPhone:  +1-518-283-8860

OrgAbuseHandle: COGEN-ARIN
OrgAbuseName:   Cogent Abuse 
OrgAbusePhone:  +1-877-875-4311

OrgNOCHandle: ZC108-ARIN
OrgNOCName:   Cogent Communications 
OrgNOCPhone:  +1-877-875-4311

OrgTechHandle: IPALL-ARIN
OrgTechName:   IP Allocation 
OrgTechPhone:  +1-877-875-4311

It'd be a shame if the site were breached and defaced. Lord knows none of us want that.

16 posted on 08/05/2003 9:41:13 AM PDT by Jay D. Dyson (Better a Bushbot than a Bubbabot!)
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To: pabianice
Mayzel would neither confirm nor deny that Google had taken any action regarding the advertisement, but more than a dozen searches conducted Friday afternoon for variations of "John Lott" and "Ask John Lott" did not result in the ad being displayed.

Google search for "Ask John Lott". The ad showed up on my first try.


IP Block info for

08/05/03 11:31:21 IP block
Trying at ARIN
Trying 38.144.92 at ARIN

OrgName: Performance Systems International Inc. 
Address: 1015 31st Street, NW
City: Washington
StateProv: DC
PostalCode: 20007
Country: US

NetRange: - 
NetHandle: NET-38-0-0-0-1
NetType: Direct Allocation
NameServer: NS.PSI.NET
NameServer: NS2.PSI.NET
RegDate: 1991-04-16
Updated: 2003-03-14

TechName: PSINet, Inc. 
TechPhone: +1-518-283-8860

OrgAbuseHandle: COGEN-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: Cogent Abuse 
OrgAbusePhone: +1-877-875-4311

OrgNOCHandle: ZC108-ARIN
OrgNOCName: Cogent Communications 
OrgNOCPhone: +1-877-875-4311

OrgTechHandle: IPALL-ARIN
OrgTechName: IP Allocation 
OrgTechPhone: +1-877-875-4311

# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2003-08-04 19:15
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.

17 posted on 08/05/2003 9:45:32 AM PDT by Ouachita
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Comment #18 Removed by Moderator

To: pabianice

"File Not Found
The requested URL was not found on this server."

Well that was fast.
19 posted on 08/05/2003 9:48:23 AM PDT by Bikers4Bush
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To: pabianice

InterNIC (1453 bytes) redbar.gif  
  Home              Registrars              FAQ              Whois  

Whois Data Problem Report

Thank you for using the Whois Data Problem Report facility. This form allows Internet users to submit reports to ICANN-Accredited Registrars concerning incomplete or inaccurate Whois data.

(Important note: If you are trying to update your own contact details associated with a domain you have registered, PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS FORM. Please visit your registrar's website or contact your registrar directly for assistance with updating your own contact details.)

All accredited registrars have agreed with ICANN to obtain contact information from registrants, to provide it publicly by a Whois service, and to investigate and correct any reported inaccuracies in contact information for domain names registered through them.

Reports submitted through this facility will be forwarded to the appropriate registrar for handling, and the progress of your report will be tracked.

To submit a Whois Data Problem Report, please begin by entering the domain name in question, along with your name and email address below:

Domain Name: 
Your Name: 
Your Email: 


Privacy Notice:
This report form requests your personal data and records your IP address in order to prevent frivolous reports or other misuse of this system. This information and the other data you submit on this form will be recorded and forwarded to the registrar responsible for investigating the report.

Comments should be sent to

20 posted on 08/05/2003 9:51:06 AM PDT by Mini-14
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