Pianist loses over $6 million in bizarre computer virus-related scam

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Roger Davidson, pianist
A court has heard that a couple conned at least $6 million from the great-grandson of an oil industry tycoon after he brought his virus-infected computer in for repair.

Although the victim’s name has not been released by the authorities, the media has named him as jazz pianist and composer Roger Davidson, an heir of oil tycoon Conrad Schlumberger.

According to media reports, prosecutors in Westchester, New York, charged 36-year-old Vickram Bedi and his girlfriend Helga Invarsdottir. The couple are said to have tricked the composer into believing that while investigating the virus they had found evidence that his life was in danger.

Bedi and his 39-year-old girlfriend were arrested last week at their home in Chappaqua, as they were preparing to leave for Iceland.

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Now, you’re not going to believe this next bit. I didn’t at first either.

Bedi and Invarsdottir
Over the course of six years, Bedi and Invarsdottir are said to have extorted at least $6 million from Davidson – although police chiefs have claimed the full figure could be as much as $20 million – demanding up to $160,000 per month in protection money.

According to reports, the suspects concocted a bizarre story that the virus had been tracked to a hard drive in Honduras, and that evidence had been found that the composer’s life was in danger.

Bedi is said to have told Davidson that he was working on behalf of the CIA. Their mission? To prevent a gang of Polish priests affiliated with Opus Dei from attempting to harm the jazz composer.

Stories don’t get much more oddball than this, but they underline the importance for all of us to be on guard against scams. Although the typical readers of the Naked Security site may be savvy and clued-up, can you honestly say that the same is true of every member of your family or social circle?

Could there be an elderly or vulnerable person close to you who uses the internet, and might easily be hoodwinked by merciless scammers?

It’s the responsibility of all of us to not just defend our computers, but also to protect those more vulnerable than ourselves.

Bedi and Invarsdottir are being held by the authorities in lieu of $3 million cash bail.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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