Spyware Millionaire Wins Gold For Australia
February 17, 2006 11:47 PM   Subscribe

Dale Begg-Smith is being called the "golden boy of the slopes" by the Australian media after winning gold in the Turin Winter Games. However, when asked about his business, which has reportedly earned him millions of dollars and enabled him to buy a Lamborghini, Begg-Smith became "..vague about its nature." "It's complicated," he said. "We make the technology for companies to monitor their online advertising campaigns." What is emerging now is that Begg-Smith's companies, AdsCPM and CPM Media, are linked to home page hijacking, spyware, porn redirectors, and other unsavory internet practices. A quick WHOIS of AdsCPM.com reveals that the same IP address is shared with porn domain names and websites that are notorious for distributing spyware. Bloggers using the Wayback machine have turned up similar information. Is he a willing spyware merchant who has now reluctantly been bought to our attention, or a legitimate internet entrepreneur?
posted by davem (39 comments total)
 
And while I have yet to read the links that you provide, my first impression is to ask... "does what he does when he's not an Olympian matter?" Sure, his business, as alleged, is unsavoury. You won't get any argument from me there. But the way you appear to be framing this debate is to say that his business somehow detracts from his victory on the slopes. If that is what you're trying to say, who cares? It dosen't matter. Unless he used his money to buy steroids to perform better in his sport, this is a non-story at best, and an ugly beat-up at worst.
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:57 PM on February 17, 2006


Unless he's running a ski-gambling site or sending out spam hawking performance enhancing drugs, I don't see what his 'internet practices' have to do with his winning an Olympic gold medal.
posted by SenshiNeko at 12:03 AM on February 18, 2006


Unless he's running a ski-gambling site or sending out spam hawking performance enhancing drugs, I don't see what his 'internet practices' have to do with his winning an Olympic gold medal.

IMHO, he should be in prison. A notorious but unconvicted criminal doesn't add much shine to an Olympic roster, medalist or not.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:12 AM on February 18, 2006


Man, what an asshole.
posted by jimmy at 12:20 AM on February 18, 2006


Obligatory:
Don't you mean "Christ, what an asshole!"?
posted by hincandenza at 12:24 AM on February 18, 2006


Unless he's running a ski-gambling site or sending out spam hawking performance enhancing drugs, I don't see what his 'internet practices' have to do with his winning an Olympic gold medal.

But it makes it very funny.

Initial reports from Oz media had him a modest, private kinda guy who didn't want to boast about his businesses.

(In the process of trying to remove Starware from the folks' computer.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:26 AM on February 18, 2006


As for those snarking on the FPP- while badly formatted, the point being was not so much that he doesn't deserve to win a gold medal, but rather that he shouldn't be touted as a "golden boy" and media darling if he's in fact a sleazy internet spyware peddler. If you read the first linked post, at the AU site, it's full of simply fawning turns of phrase:
  • "a self-made internet millionaire at 20, with a Lamborghini in the garage of his apartment in Vancouver."
  • "His coach says he never betrays weakness because he never feels it."
  • Begg-Smith's gold ... came as both relief and affirmation for the winter sports community in Australia.
  • Desovich said he had never seen Begg-Smith lose his composure. "I haven't seen any cracks. He's inhuman that way," he said. "He's absolutely impenetrable. He never, absolutely ever shows weakness. I don't think he feels it. That's the way he is.
  • Begg-Smith's run was a clinically precise feat of skiing, belying the many ways in which it could have gone flat-on-his-back wrong.
Actually, all that talking about "not betraying weakness", and his willingness to make money in such an unsavory fashion... the guy sounds more like a sociopath than a champion athlet (heh- Professor Robert Hare, expert on sociopathology, is actually from the University of BC in Vancouver... small world!).

It does look like the same press outlets have now picked up that the "golden boy" is not so golden. This will be awkward for them to cover- he's a gold medal winner for the country, but also apparently a real fuckwad in his non-Olympic life.


Still... how depressing that his enterprise is worth $N million though (40 or whatever the real value is), and that he made that money at such a young age to enjoy it to the fullest. I can't fathom how these people make this much money on spyware... argh! Tell me again, why is it I don't break the law routinely, and flout all moral and ethical restraints?
posted by hincandenza at 12:40 AM on February 18, 2006


No way am I opening up any of those links and waiting to see how much spyware/spam/just plain shit ends up on my computer.
posted by skeeter1 at 1:00 AM on February 18, 2006


Thanks for the eloquent elaboration of the point I was trying to make with this post, hincandenza. And yes Effigy2000, I am embarrassed and sorry for the abysmal formatting of the FPP, and it won't happen again etc.
Skeeter1, all the links I provided are stories and articles relating to his company and it's practices, and not to any actual spyware.
posted by davem at 1:14 AM on February 18, 2006


That's ok mate. We all make mistakes in our first few MeFi posts, myself included. I mean, my sixth MeFi post, though lauded as a good thread by several people in the thread, should definently have had a [more inside] tag. I'm still a little embarrased about that one.

That said, (and I really don't mean to be snarky here, so please don't read it as such), I don't see why this should take the shine off of his gold medal. Yeah, he's an asshat business-man off the field, no doubt about it. But he won a gold medal at the Olympics and spyware entrepenuer or not, I'm sure that no-one in this thread or anyone of the people who wrote those articles linked to in the post can say the same.

As an Australian, I'm uniquely aware of something known in the Australian culture as "tall poppy syndrome", where Aussies will find anyway to take down fellow Australians who end up doing well. Seems to me that this is what's happened here, and I am as uncomfortable with this as I am his area of business. It's a rock and a hard place, I guess.

Oh well. Whatever else, at least now Dale Begg-Smith will get to share beers and commiserate with Stephen Bradbury over what it's like to win Gold at the Olympics and still get pissed on by the Australian people and press.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:30 AM on February 18, 2006


Thanks, davem. I've got a hardware firewall in the router, anti-virus software (AVG), and spyware software (SpyBot). I guess I'm just paranoid.
posted by skeeter1 at 1:42 AM on February 18, 2006


Is he a willing spyware merchant who has now reluctantly been bought to our attention, or a legitimate internet entrepreneur?

He's a rich wanker, there's lots of them.
posted by gsb at 2:04 AM on February 18, 2006


Great post, horrible formatting - but I guess everyone let you in on that second part.

It's pretty clear that there's no humility at play, folks. He just doesn't want to get busted as the barely-human, immoral scumbag that he is. His actions may not be explicitly criminal, but they should be. I see little difference in exploiting corporate web page vulnerabilities to steal customer information versus exploiting private systems to do the same.

I'm uniquely aware of something known in the Australian culture as "tall poppy syndrome", where Aussies will find anyway to take down fellow Australians who end up doing well.

It's not just Australia, my friend. But this isn't like he smoked a little reefer and got all sorts of shit for it, like the talented but hugely assholic Gary Hall Jr; this is a guy whose personal fortune was built on underming trust and exploiting ignorance.

Fuck Begg-Smith. I hope he winds up in prison.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:08 AM on February 18, 2006


Again Effigy, it is not just Aurstralian, but I have wondered how much of it comes from your Irish heritage. It's long been said that for any Irish person to do exceptionally well they have to leave!
So is he guilty until proven innocent, in which case Big Up for the Gold, or will we see a global metadetective hunt to prove he's a scum-bag. If you go a-hunting guys, wear the metafilter coat of arms with pride thanks to Blag!
posted by Wilder at 2:26 AM on February 18, 2006


Get a clue: Sports isn't news, even olymipics.
posted by Goofyy at 3:05 AM on February 18, 2006


I'm jackass. The 'newsfilter' header from another post stuck in my primary register. Reboot.
posted by Goofyy at 3:06 AM on February 18, 2006


He is a gold medal skier.

He is a spyware peddler.

These two things have nothing in common with one-another.

I would no more tarnish his gold medal with the spyware claims as I would try to forgive his spyware peddling because he has a gold medal.

One person. Two facets. Life is complicated like that.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:09 AM on February 18, 2006


I don't think it should take the shine off his gold medal win either, so well done Dale, for that achievment. What I do find interesting is that this is the first time I have seen a purported spyware/adware vendor exposed in the mainstream media, and the fact that it happened because he won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics is, to me anyway, a somewhat bizarre turn of events.

BTW, the Washington Post recently did a great article on massive networks of spyware infected PC's, or botnets as they are called, and the damage and privacy nightmares they can cause. Companies like Begg-Smith's willingly enable and profit from this type of thing, whilst publically pretending to be unaware of what their affiliates are doing.
posted by davem at 5:19 AM on February 18, 2006


As an Australian, I happen to know that most of the country is capable of admiring sporting achievements whatever else the hero has done... see Shane Warne.

I'm not saying this is a good attitude, just that it exists.
posted by jacalata at 5:22 AM on February 18, 2006


[reformatted post, removed snarky "woah bad formatting!!" comments, carry on]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:39 AM on February 18, 2006


Ynoxas has it.

Of course, the fact that this guy has a gold medal doesn't make him a "golden boy" worthy of great personal praise for other than his athletic prowess.

I wouldn't call a complete jerk an awesome person and hold him up to fawning praise just because he was a good artist/athlete/whatever. But I wouldn't let his being a jerk prevent me from noting their remarkable skill/talent.

I'm betting Australia's generally not happy with the revelation because, as we are all wont to do, they'd like to see him as a one-dimensional hero for the country. But life is, as Ynoxas said, rather more complicated than that...
posted by darkstar at 5:41 AM on February 18, 2006


O.J. won the Heisman and probably killed two people. You can't argue with his numbers on the football field, but when you look at him as a whole person, the killing detracts from the other accomplishment. Olympians are held to high standards and it's unfortunate that Begg-Smith earned his money in a less than reputable way.
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:04 AM on February 18, 2006


Ynoxas writes "He is a gold medal skier.

"He is a spyware peddler.

"These two things have nothing in common with one-another."


It's likely that his unsavory income stream benifted his skiing career by providing funds for training, food and shelter.
posted by Mitheral at 7:10 AM on February 18, 2006


It's likely that his unsavory income stream benifted his skiing career by providing funds for training, food and shelter.

And, apparently, Lamborghinis.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:37 AM on February 18, 2006


He's actually born in Canada, and used to train here, but the requirements of the Canadian program were to stringent - it kept him from his buiness - so he left for Australia. The Canadian sports networks have been bemoaning the loss of this Olympic champion. This adds an extra dimension of funny to the whole thing.
posted by raedyn at 7:48 AM on February 18, 2006


Name:
Dale
Email address:
prodesigning@hotmail.com

wrote:

Advertising Proposal Hi,

Our popunder has been going for 4 months, now I am ready to buy all the traffic you get to your site. I am willing to pay you $1.5 cpm (per 1000 unique ip's) that you send to my popunder (a popup that loads behind your page so it doesn’t bother your users). I currently have 10 other warez/cracks/appz sites with my popunder on them for 4 months now and I have never missed a payment. They say I am the best advertiser they ever used.

(I swiped the link from this thread in the Geekvillage forums, which is an education in itself.)

Oh and. I was thinking that skiing and making a zillion bucks before age 20 DO have something in common: selfishness, focus, and the ability to go downhill really fast.
posted by merelyglib at 7:50 AM on February 18, 2006


It paid for his Aussie citizenship, too. He left Canada because they wanted him to train more, which took away from his business.

Canada was lucky to get rid of this asshole.
posted by QIbHom at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2006


(And by selfish I mean.... oh hell, just forget I said selfish. Self-centered maybe? Not saying all skiiers are selfish at all, ok? Its a solitary kind of sport. Except for the part in the ski lodge....)
posted by merelyglib at 8:00 AM on February 18, 2006


If you can lose your medal for smoking weed, then it's surely worth considering stripping someone for being a scam artist.
posted by VulcanMike at 10:14 AM on February 18, 2006


What's remarkable about this story is it has the chance of exposing a truly evil and disgusting criminal enterprise to the mass public. I can't tell you how many computer-naive people I know who have some sort of adware crap on their computers. "Why are there popups on Google?" "Why can't I get to Yahoo?" They have no clue what's going on in their computers; how could they?

So the fact that this minor sports celebrity may also be an adware purveyor makes for an interesting educational opportunity.
posted by Nelson at 10:39 AM on February 18, 2006


He is a gold medal skier.

He is a spyware peddler.

These two things have nothing in common with one-another.


---
The Olympic Code of Ethics says participants "must not act in a manner likely to bring the reputation of the Olympic Movement into disrepute." How about blackmailing Internet users by displaying pop-ups advertising spyware removal software?

I'm not effected by spyware and pop-ups/unders so it's no big deal to me, but if the IOC finds this behavior disreputable, there may be a case against him. And I imagine many people who are effected by this guys businesses would find it lacking in respectability.
posted by effwerd at 10:52 AM on February 18, 2006


I saw his interview on CBC right after his gold medal win. They kept on harping on how he felt about leaving Canada in order to compete. The CBC seemed to be hoping that he would at least put in a good word about Canada but basically he just said he was happy to have left. He came off as kinda a jerk which jives for me with that he's a sleazy businessman.
posted by metaname at 11:25 AM on February 18, 2006


It's not just operating spyware, it's using clearly-illegal browser exploits to install massive amounts of spyware - both CPM's own, and masses of affiliate install from pretty much all major parasite vendors.

The way it worked was that his companies (going under many different names, changing every time they were caught) would purchase large numbers of impressions from larger ad networks - typically over the weekend, when they were less likely to get caught quickly - and direct that traffic to Internet Explorer security hole exploits that loaded as much spyware as they could get their hands on, as quickly as possible. (Typically this would make the target PCs completely unusuable, but who cares as long as they're getting paid, right?)

Over the last few years CPM (and their endless list of aliases - KVM, SoftTech, Sea Media, Torvent...) have been the biggest users of illegal browser exploits outside of the Russian-language adult webmaster community (aka CWS). The damage they have caused is massive and if there were any justice should lead to jail time.
posted by BobInce at 11:29 AM on February 18, 2006


I saw his interview on CBC right after his gold medal win. They kept on harping on how he felt about leaving Canada in order to compete. The CBC seemed to be hoping that he would at least put in a good word about Canada but basically he just said he was happy to have left. He came off as kinda a jerk which jives for me with that he's a sleazy businessman.

He never said he was happy that he left Canada. He actually said he loved Canada and went to train in Australia because Canada's system was too strict. I'm kind of miffed that our own athletes are beating us. The Swiss just beat Canada 2-0 in hockey, both Swiss goals by Paul DiPietro, a Canadian who played in the NHL 10 years ago but now plays in Europe.
posted by disgruntled at 12:27 PM on February 18, 2006


QIbHom writes "Canada was lucky to get rid of this asshole"

Except we didn't the guy, still spends half his time here.
posted by Mitheral at 1:45 PM on February 18, 2006


Exactly, Nelson.
posted by davem at 3:28 PM on February 18, 2006


Ha, I called this days ago.
posted by Jimbob at 5:51 PM on February 18, 2006


I know, Mitheral, but at least he wasn't flaunting the Maple Leaf.

One can hope he has an embarassing accident involving a rabit koala, a ball point pen and a can of Lysol.
posted by QIbHom at 6:31 PM on February 18, 2006


As an Australian, I'm uniquely aware of something known in the Australian culture as "tall poppy syndrome", where Aussies will find anyway to take down fellow Australians who end up doing well.

As an Australian, I'm uniquely aware of something whereby complete assholes who need to be taken down a notch or ten squeal "tall poppy syndroooooooome!" whenever they get called out.

Australians are pretty smart. They get it right most of the time. Shane Warne, mentioned above, is a good example. He gets about as much shit as he deserves. People respect him for his sporting achievements. He still gets corporate sponsorships. (And men secretly respect him for his mad teXt0ring skills!)

The Occam’s Razor card and the tall poppy syndrome card. Often played by morans.

ps: Greg Norman is Beelzebub!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:16 PM on February 18, 2006


« Older Annexing Khuzestan -   |   Monkey magic, Monkey magic. Ooh! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments