Dallas Financier Convicted of Securities Fraud Says He's Being Targeted by Nigerian Scammers
There's plenty of evidence to suggest that Dallas financier Barrett Wissman is not entirely on the up-and-up. That story he told hedge fund colleagues of taking over his father's sizable chemical company two years out of college? D reported that it was a tiny company that manufactured tablecloths and lawn-care products. That signature he'd used to pocket $96,250 of his aunt's money a quarter century ago? A Bexar County court ruled that it was forged. Then, of course, there was his central role in a massive 2009 fraud case in which Wissman, one of the principals in the Hunt family's hedge fund, admitted to giving kickbacks to officials in exchange for business with New York state's employee pension fund.
Now Wissman's on the receiving end of fraud. In court papers, Wissman says his identity has been hijacked by scammers hoping to get money from friends, colleagues and others.
The scheme allegedly targeting Wissman isn't of the old-school help-I'm-a-Nigerian-prince variety. In his case, the scammers have created an email account in his name, firstname.lastname@example.org, and pepper their messages with references to Wissman's personal and business dealings.
The message Wissman saw, which was forwarded from a friend who'd received it, mentioned his passion for "classical music" and "antique furnishings," spoke of his business interests in the United Arab Emirates, and used the sign-off "Warmly, Barrett." It offered the recipient a job, with $500,000 up front provided he would provide his bank account and passport numbers to ease the transaction.
Wissman says he has no idea who's sending the emails, but he's trying his damnedest to figure it out. He's demanding that a Dallas County judge require Yahoo to give a deposition providing identifying information on whoever set up the email account. A hearing is scheduled for next month.
Of course, none of this proves that Wissman isn't actually the person behind the Yahoo account. What better way to preemptively cover up your new Nigerian email scam than by filing a bunch of court papers swearing you have no idea who's sending those crazy messages? But that's way too bush league for Wissman. It might be something the aunt-swindling lad of 1990 might try, but he's matured since then. And he probably doesn't need the money.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.