This guy calling himself Patrick Kessler sure had a brilliant scam. He talked to rich people and institutions and told them that he used to work for Jeffrey Epstein, and had been hired to set up encrypted servers that stored the thousands of hours of secret video recordings Epstein had made of rich, famous people raping young girls at his house, and that he now had the keys to the server and was willing to make them available to lawyers and the media. As proof, he’d show them grainy, porny still photos on his phone and say, “That’s Prince Andrew” or “That’s Alan Dershowitz”, and the gullible lawyers would fall for it. He kept the scam going for months, constantly evading any attempt to get any concrete evidence out of him.
He played off multiple marks. First he’s negotiating with David Boies and John Pottinger, two lawyers who were supposedly representing Epstein’s victims, and then he’d sneak off to the NY Times and tell them he didn’t trust the lawyers and wanted to deal with them. He invented convoluted schemes for transferring files, and would then at the last minute announce, “Oh no, the servers are on fire!” Everyone was dancing to his tune.
Then, the best part is unstated. The NY Times finally reports on this story, and I notice something is missing. Read it yourself, you’ll notice that the con artist, Patrick Kessler, just quietly drops out of the picture as his marks start turning on each other and pointing fingers. Has he been arrested? Has he fled the country? We don’t know. Apparently the reporters don’t care, either, since they just stop mentioning him. I might also ask if Kessler had been paid anything — he strung them along for months, are you saying he kept the con going just to sponge off the lawyer’s expense accounts for dinners and alcohol?
I’m actually impressed. He scammed a couple of high-priced New York lawyers, and he scammed the NY Times, and now he has disappeared and none of his targets will admit that they were stupid and got taken. If this were a crime novel, it would be a page turner. I want Carl Hiaasen to write it, because I think only he could adequately skewer Boies, Pottinger, and the NY Times while laying out the story.
And this is just legal corruption.
Mr. Boies and Mr. Pottinger discussed a plan. They could use the supposed footage in litigation or to try to reach deals with men who appeared in it, with money flowing into a charitable foundation. In encrypted chats with Kessler, Mr. Pottinger referred to a roster of potential targets as the “hot list.” He described hypothetical plans in which the lawyers would pocket up to 40 percent of the settlements and could extract money from wealthy men by flipping from representing victims to representing their alleged abusers.
The possibilities were tantalizing — and extended beyond vindicating victims. Mr. Pottinger saw a chance to supercharge his law practice. For Mr. Boies, there was a shot at redemption, after years of criticism for his work on behalf of Theranos and Harvey Weinstein.
Who is the real con artist here, Kessler or Boies/Pottinger? It seems to me that the lawyers were drooling at the prospect of getting blackmail material they could use as leverage to get rich people to cough up large sums of cash in return for suppressing the evidence, and they got to skim 40% off the top, while the rest would go to the clients they represented, or to charities, to make it look “ethical”. Further, they could get paid by billionaires who aren’t even in the recordings, like the contemptible Sheldon Adelson (at least, I don’t think Epstein would have had an Adelson sex tape, but who knows…). Adelson wanted to influence elections in Israel by buying incriminating videos of politicians he didn’t like.
Mr. Adelson, a billionaire casino magnate in Las Vegas, had founded one of Israel’s largest newspapers, and it was an enthusiastic booster of Mr. Netanyahu. Mr. Pottinger wrote that he and Mr. Boies hoped to fly to Nevada to meet with Mr. Adelson to discuss the images.
“Do you believe that adelson has the pull to insure this will hurt his bid for election?” Kessler asked the next morning.
I guess this isn’t illegal? Or it is, but we’re going to quietly sweep it under a filthy rug somewhere?
It’s also weird how, throughout this story, they get all sensational about what men were possibly engaging in sex with underage girls in these photos. “Could that bearded man be…?” or “Is that actually Famous Man having sex…?” and the women are all invisible. No one seems to stop to consider that juicy compromising photo of some guy is also a photo of a victim — a victim who ought to have some rights, rather than being nothing but a pawn in photographic evidence of a crime.
But mainly, I read the entire NY Times story and wondered how bad journalism can get, when they don’t even ask, let alone try to answer, the major questions.
Where is Patrick Kessler, and how much was he paid?