Message to Christopher Lawell

Chris,

Thank you for contacting me. I read your reply at ChristopherLawell.com and there are a few things about it that bother me.

To begin with, you say that no one ever contacted you about the scam sites. Well, we know that at least two complaints were sent about the scam sites to finishlinehosting@cli-us.com, and that there were many complaints sent to Ecatel prior to those complaints, too. The first known complaint sent to this address was sent on November 14th. The complaints were sent to that address at cli-us.com because that was the only business contact address that was then available. No replies to those complaints were ever received. It was only after a further complaint was made on November 17th, one that mentioned that the site SafeAndLocal.org was registered in your name and that finishlinehosting@cli-us.com was the address for the DNS administrator for the recent scam sites, that the scam sites were promptly taken down.

At the same time, on November 17th, just a few hours after this new complaint was made, you removed your company’s logo from your website and hid your LinkedIn profile. There was no campaign against you as you claim, there were just some postings on this blog that mentioned the web pages that linked your name to the scam sites. Read these postings. Do they amount to character assassination? No, they don’t. They plainly present facts that strongly pointed to you being involved in the scams. They leave open and acknowledge that it is possible that the scammer was merely a client of yours or someone else entirely. (And, as a matter of fact, before coming across the cli-us.com address, there was another person that we believed was behind the sites.) The fact that you hid your personal information at the same time that the sites got shut down, along with the fact that the sites did not get shut down until it was revealed that your name was linked to them, was very suspicious, you must admit.

I know that you don’t care to answer any questions about this, but would you be so good as to answer these?

1) Why were there no replies to the messages sent to finishlinehosting@cli-us.com? Is it not a valid email address? If it isn’t, then there should have been an error message sent back from your website. No replies including error messages were ever received, so it must be a valid email address. If it is a valid email address, then what is your relationship with finishlinehosting?

2) As I said, on November 17th, the day that you hid your personal information, the only public postings made on the internet regarding this matter were the ones you see on this blog. They are calm and rational, analytical. You could have easily posted something here regarding the matter. There was no fire for you to fuel. So why didn’t you post anything?

3) Likewise, concerning SafeAndLocal.org, you write

When the complaint showed up on the broadband reports forum, I wrote multiple letters to the admins of that site explaining the situation and asking that the thread be removed, they ignored every request. They are obviously more concerned about freedom of speech even if it is inaccurate and damaging to innocent people than posting accurate content. I didn’t address this on the forum as I felt most people would want to believe the worst and it would only serve to fuel the fire.

However, there was no fire to fuel. There is no complaint in that thread on BroadbandReports.com. The thread was started by someone who wanted some advice. He wasn’t sure that SafeAndLocal.org was a legitimate dating site, and he wanted other people’s help on figuring that out. There was no hostility or any words at all for that matter that were directed to you or about you. As a matter of fact, the way that your name ended up being mentioned was that someone wanted to point out that the site had only been registered a couple months earlier, and he showed this by posting the registration information in its entirety. The discourse in that thread was calm and reasonable; saying that you didn’t just go ahead and post an explanation in it because you didn’t want to fuel the fire makes no sense: there was no fire to fuel. You could have easily just posted a note saying that you had registered the site for a client and that you had terminated that client’s account; there was nothing for you to be afraid of and there was no reason why you would have needed the thread to have been deleted. So could you explain why you didn’t just do that?

I would really like it if you could answer these questions. In your letter you say:

I am going to address your statements this one time. I will not fuel the fire by entering into a debate. 

As I’ve repeatedly said, there is no fire for you to fuel. We can calmly and rationally discuss this matter, so why don’t you want do that? I’d really like to find these scammers, and I’m sure that you’d like to see them brought to justice too seeing as they’ve implicated you in all this. If you give us the information that you have about them, even if it’s old, it could help us track them down. So why don’t you just talk to us and answer the questions that we have? I am sending an email message to chris@cli-us.com informing you of this post and I hope to hear from you again.

P.S. Christopher Lawell posted several comments on this blog. They all said the same thing, “Please read my full response here: http://www.christopherlawell.com”, so I’ve deleted all but one of them. That is the only reason I deleted his comments, because they were redundant.

Account Suspended?

Complaints were sent to Ecatel, the ISP for the scam sites, and also to cli-us.com. Now, mysafenet.net, localsafe.org, safe4mail.org, and all of the other sites used for the scam that were in the zone administered by finishlinehosting@cli-us.com have been taken down. When you look at these sites now you see a page that says either “This Account Has Been Suspended” or “This Account Has Been Suspended by Finishline Hosting”. However, one of the sites that was used for sending the spam, arc.archangelwebdesign.info, is still up. This site is not in a zone administered by finishlinehosting@cli-us.com and it doesn’t use an IP provided by Ecatel, as the other sites did. It has an IP of 174.122.133.9, which is provided by ThePlanet.com. Complaints were sent to ThePlanet.com about this site but the site remains active.

So have the scammer’s sites really been shut down? Did Finishline Hosting suspend their customer’s account? I don’t believe that this is the case. I think that this Finishline Hosting isn’t a real hosting company but a front that was created to hide the scammer’s identity. First of all, the site FinishlineHosting.com is blank, it has no content and doesn’t offer any services. When I search for information about this company, I find nothing. There is a company in Joplin, MO with a similar name. It’s called Finish Line Hosting (three words instead of two) and its website is Finishlinehost.com, but it does not appear to be related to finishlinehosting.com at all.

Second, there is the fact that the zone administrator for the sites at Ecatel had an email address at cli-us.com, not at finishlinehosting.com, so the administrator would be someone at Christopher Lawell, Inc.

Third, cli-us.com has undergone a facelift. A couple days ago it featured the logo for Christopher Lawell, Inc:

but now that logo is gone and the home page of the website is completely blank.

Finally, Christopher Lawell’s LinkedIn profile

has been hidden from public view.

I get the feeling that someone is trying to cover his tracks.

Christopher Lawell, Inc.

I’ve done some more investigating of mysafenet.net and localsafe.org and it looks like I’ve found out who’s behind them.

First of all, localsafe.org, mysafenet.net, and several other servers share the name server ns1.finishlinehosting.com:

 SAMPLE OF DOMAINS USING NS1.FINISHLINEHOSTING.COM

Domain Registrar Create Date Expire Date More Information
finishlinehosting.com INTERNET.BS CORP. 2010-06-21 2011-06-21 DNS
localsafe.org Internet.bs Corp. (R1601-LROR) 2010-03-18 04:31:32 2011-03-18 04:31:32 DNS
mail4now.net INTERNET.BS CORP. 2010-03-18 2011-03-18 DNS
mail4time.org Internet.bs Corp. (R1601-LROR) 2010-10-29 04:42:25 2011-10-29 04:42:25 DNS
mysafenet.net INTERNET.BS CORP. 2010-11-01 2011-11-01 DNS
safe-local.net INTERNET.BS CORP. 2010-03-18 2011-03-18 DNS

Safe-local.net is another server that is used for the scam. It redirects to craigslistsafe.localsafe.org. Mail4now.net and mail4time.org are servers that are used for for sending spam for mysafenet.net and safe-local.net. Since these sites all share the same name server and they were all used for the scam, it’s a good bet that they are all owned by the same person.

A useful piece of information about a website is its SOA record. This record contains the e-mail address of the person responsible for administering the domain’s zone. The SOA record for mysafenet.net is this:

MYSAFENET.NET SOA RECORD

Name Server ns1.finishlinehosting.com
Email blank@cli-us.com
Serial Number 2010110101
Refresh 1 day
Retry 2 hours
Expiry 41 days 16 hours
Minimum 1 day

The e-mail address of the zone administrator is an address at cli-us.com, which is a website for Christopher Lawell, Inc.

Given its name, we’d assume that finishlinehosting.com would be the website for the hosting company used by these sites, but instead it’s a blank website. Let’s look at the SOA record for finishlinehosting.com:

FINISHLINEHOSTING.COM SOA RECORD

Name Server ns1.finishlinehosting.com
Email finishlinehosting@cli-us.com
Serial Number 2010081305
Refresh 1 day
Retry 2 hours
Expiry 41 days 16 hours
Minimum 1 day

The e-mail address of the zone administrator for this site is also an address at cli-us.com. So who is this Christopher Lawell?

Googling “Christopher Lawell” brings up a number of interesting pages. For instance there’s the LinkedIn profile of a Christopher Lawell in the Las Vegas, NV area who is a partner at Clearline Media and president of both http://www.350dollarwebsites.com and Christopher Lawell, Inc. When we Google

“Christopher Lawell” craigslist

we find some articles where he gives tips on spamming Craigslist. For instance:

http://www.articlepros.com/online_business/More-In-Internet-and-Online-Business/article-94976.html
http://make-money-online12.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-to-post-on-craigslist.html.

Doing some more searching for his name shows that it has been linked to other verification scam sites. For instance, there is this thread on broadbandreports.com:

http://www.broadbandreports.com/forum/r23659525-craigslistsafesafeandlocalorg-scam-site-or-not

The Christopher Lawell discussed in this thread had an address in Henderson, NV, which is a suburb of Las Vegas, and he was listed as the owner of craigslistsafe.safeandlocal.org, a verification scam site that is no longer active:

Domain ID:D157651283-LROR
Domain Name:SAFEANDLOCAL.ORG
Created On:21-Nov-2009 16:02:05 UTC
Last Updated On:21-Nov-2009 16:02:08 UTC
Expiration Date:21-Nov-2010 16:02:05 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Status:CLIENT DELETE PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT RENEW PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Status:CLIENT UPDATE PROHIBITED
Status:TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant ID:CR29951201
Registrant Name:Christopher Lawell
Registrant Street1:318 Canyon River Court
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Henderson
Registrant State/Province:Nevada
Registrant Postal Code:89012
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.7023358990

(The current registration information is different because the registrant acquired whois privacy protection to hide his identity.)

Not only is the name of this site very similar to craigslistsafe.localsafe.org, but SafeAndLocal.org is what is shown for the title of the page on craigslistsafe.localsafe.org:

(Click the image to see it in full size). This could be because when the current site was created, the person who set it up used a copy of the HTML for the old site and forgot to change the page’s title.

When we look at all of this evidence, though it hasn’t been proven for certain, it does appear that this Christopher Lawell is the owner of the current scam sites, too.