This is a repost from an earlier blog entry on a bogus KickStarter posted on May 17.
As evident in this KickStarter and this other one, we’ve seen countless snake oil being peddled to helpless people who are only looking to protect themselves on the Internet. Well, this time we have a product called DataGateKeeper (DGK), and they’re looking for $25,000. Their claims are that it’s anti-hacking software that provides encryption levels far more advanced than AES.
Because I hate this sort of crap, I figure it’s time to document who these people are and what the product actually is. I should note that I initially wondered if it was a troll (as did Bruce Schneier), but I am now convinced that it is a scam.
I am going to refer to this as MyDataAngel.com or “MDA” as there’s a tonne of confusion here due to the iterations this software has goen through. What they’re selling is not only not new, it has been attempted to be sold under many different names with various other people involved.
I’d like to thank Ryan O’Horo for helping out form the timeline and provide other tidbits.
Meet the Team
Here’s an image from their KickStarter:
It helps to know who these people are in order to paint a picture of what we’re dealing with.
- Raymond Talarico (CEO) – once sued over a suspected embezzlement of $30,000 (via the SEC) from a company he was formerly CEO and founder of, Raymond is the CEO of MyDataAngel.com. Formerly, he was a director of FileWarden.com, which has a relationship with MDA, until July of 2014. Talarico is also President of American Pacific Rim Commerce Group (APRCG).
- Debra Towsley (President) – Debra has worked alongside Raymond for at least a decade and was cited in the aforementioned SEC document. She was formerly president (and later CEO) of the company Talarico founded, There are claims that she worked as Director of Marketing for Blockbuster in Florida and she has been cited as involved in several other companies. She has recently taken to scrubbing her LinkedIn profile for some reason.
- Frank Ruppen (Chief Strategy Office) – a Harvard Business School graduate, having worked at large companies such as Proctor and Gamble (as claimed in his LinkedIn), Frank is the founder of Forward Associates, a “brand management” company whose mission statement is to provide 404 pages. I should also note that the use of “Office” in his title is not a mistake on my part.
- Joshua Noel (Creative Director) – the creative director and likely cameraperson behind the useless videos that were incorporated into the KickStarter. Formerly a YouTube LetsPlay turned wedding videographer, Joshua now finds that his business address is being shared with MDA’s.
- Loreena Stanga (Cat Herder & Code Management) – an arts student, turned code manager for MDA. She has recently deleted her LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
- Jensen Dillard (Data Angel Host) – host of the dumb KickStarter videos, she left her job as an employee at a veterinarian hospital to host a fake newscast.
- Steve Talbott (Advisory Board) – you can refer to him as “Captain Steve” as he runs a yacht tour company in the Florida Keys.
- Chad Thilborger (Data Angel & Host) – an TV food personality who’s best known for some South Floridan TV show and shoving a tonne of what I can only assume is parsley into his mouth.
- David Smith (Advisory Board) – probably one of the most generic names possible, I was unable to get any information on him so I have nothing snarky to say.
- Frankie (Data Angel & Celebrity) – likely the most intelligent individual amongst this team as it’s nothing more than a lousy skeletal model that they use as a gag prop in their videos.
There have been other people involved in the past but I will mention them as I go along. For the most part, the two people of interest should be Towsley and Talarico. I will also mention that there are no cryptographers working for them.
Update – 20-05-2016
It turns out that Talarico and Towsley are married. You can read this claim in this article from 2006:
Talarico joined family and friends in watching his filly J P Sage take the lead near the final turn and trot on to win the night’s 10th race. Talarico, his wife Debra Towsley, and their group then posed with J P Sage for the traditional winner’s circle photo.
This detail will help paint a picture of what is going on with this KickStarter. Thanks to Stephen Tinius for pointing out his involvement with APCRG and his relationship status with Towsley.
Before MyDataAngel.com, there were other iterations
Here are some names we should make ourselves familiar with before we go on about how the timeline makes no sense:
- Centuri Cryptor
And here’s an cropped copy of their KickStarter timeline up until now:
Let me give you guys a better timeline that is more factual:
|1997-01-21||Raymond Talarico incorporates Sci-Fi Megaplex in Fort Lauderdale, FL||florida.intercreditreport.com|
|1998-01-01||Debra Towsley serves as VP of business development for Sci-Fi Megaplex||sec.edgar-online.com|
|1998-07-05||SOFNET, Inc. a/k/a SOFTNET, Inc. is incorporated by Raymond Talarico and Glenn Jackson in Florida||search.sunbiz.org|
|2000-09-01||Raymond Talarico resigns from Sci-Fi Megaplex||sec.gov|
|2001-03-16||SEC announces fraud scheme at Hawa Corporation involving future FileWarden.com director Ilona Alexis Mandelbaum of West Palm Beach, FL||sec.gov|
|2001-01-01||Raymond Talarico and Debra Towsley found Medirect Latino Inc.||sec.edgar-online.com|
|2001-01-22||Sci-Fi Megaplex files for bankruptcy||bizjournals.com|
|2001-09-21||SOFNET, Inc. is dissolved||search.sunbiz.org|
|2002-01-01||Raymond Talarico founds MGI Consultants Inc.||companiess.com|
|2002-07-19||MEDirect Latino, Inc. incorporated by Raymoond Talarico and Debra Towsley in Florida||search.sunbiz.org|
|2003-07-22||State of Wisconsin issues C&D against SOFNET, Inc., Raymond Talarico, and Glenn Jackson for selling unregistered securities||wdfi.org|
|2005-01-01||IntelaKare Marketing Inc. a/k/a ikarma Inc.||otcmarkets.com|
|2005-11-29||Success Exploration and Resources, Inc. (SE&R), a mineral exploration company, incorporated in the State of Nevada||nasdaq.com|
|2006-10-16||Three directors resign from MEDirect Latino, Inc. citing irregularites||sec.edgar-online.com|
|2007-02-14||Ilona Alexis (a/k/a Roza) Mandelbaum files for bankruptcy in Florida Southern Bankruptcy Court||plainsite.org|
|2007-07-11||MGI Consultants Inc. incorporated in Nevada by Debra Towsley||nvsos.gov|
|2007-11-09||MEDirect Latino Inc. goes into default with several lenders||globenewswire.com|
|2008-01-23||HSC Holdings, LLC incorporated in Florida by Ilona Mandelbaum||search.sunbiz.org|
|American Pacific Rim Commerce Group (APRM) and MGI Consultants|
|2010-01-01||According to a LinkedIn account, Centuri Global is created and claims to come from Hobe Sound, Florida||linkedin.com|
|2010-05-21||Fraud lawsuit filed against HSC and Ilona Mandelbaum in Texas||nasdaq.com|
|2010-06-22||Iliona Mandelbaum and HSC Holdings sued for fraud in Texas court||dockets.justia.com|
|2011-01-28||SE&R website snapshot||successexploration.com|
|2011-02-28||IntelaKare spins off Medtino Inc.||otcmarkets.com|
|2011-06-07||SEC suspends trading of American Pacific Rim Commerce Group (APRM)||sec.gov|
|2011-10-10||SEC filing connecting SE&R In Ontario and Nevada||sec.gov|
|2012-03-15||Secured Income Reserve, Inc. incorporated in Delaware, Ilona Alexis Mandelbaum and Matthew H. Sage, Executive Officers||bizapedia.com
|2013-07-30||SE&R stock purchase agreement entered into by HSC Holdings, LLC and Matthew H. Sage, then appointed Officer and Director, Alexander and Jonathan Long resign as Executive Officers||marketwatch.com|
|2013-07-30||SE&R change their SIC code from Metal Mining to Computer Processing and Data Preparation||sec.gov|
|2013-08-22||Centuri Cryptor demo video posted to Youtube by Nick M.||youtube.com|
|2013-09-06||Ilona Mandelbaum appointed Secretary and Director at SE&R||bloomberg.com|
|2013-09-11||Question regarding Centuri Cryptor was posted to SpiceWorks||community.spiceworks.com|
|2013-10-04||Centuri Cryptor website appears on the Internet. Matthew H. Sage is cited as COO and Henry Mandelbaum is CTO. Nick McCord is cited as software and network administrator.||centuriglobal.xtreamsolution.com|
|2013-10-13||Centuri Cryptor Twitter account created||twitter.com|
|2013-10-15||Raymond Talarico is compensated by SE&R for services through his majority owned company IntelaKare Marketing, Inc. with 129,400 shares of common restricted stock of SE&R and a $10,000 monthly payment.||sec.gov|
|2013-10-18||Centuri Cryptor claimed to have been presented at a nameless show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City to a crowd of 40,000 people. Said convention centre held the PIX11 Health and Wellness Show and 135th International AES Convention that weekend.||healthexpo.pix11plus.com
|2013-10-18||Alan Edwards of Whitehorse Technology Solutions LLC registers unbreakable-encryption.com and provides details on Centuri’s unbreakable status||unbreakable-encryption.com|
|2013-10-22||“Alan9701” of Whitehorse Technology Solutions LLC claims to have demoed the application and found it uncrackable. It was his first response to any SpiceWorks community message.||community.spiceworks.com|
|2013-11-21||Matthew Sage registers FileWarden.com with Centuri Global as the registrant organization.|
|2013-11-27||Talarico registers xtremehacker.com, xtremehackergames.com, hackmeifucan.com|
|2013-12-11||Raymond Talarico registers MoneyWarden.com, reflecting the FileWarden branding|
|2014-01-29||Raymond J. Talarico appointed CEO of SE&R||bloomberg.com|
|2014-02-12||SE&R files name change with SEC for FileWarden.com||sec.gov|
|2014-03-28||FileWarden.com’s Matthew H. Sage applies to operate a business in the State of Florida. Raymond Talarico is cited as President and Director.||search.sunbiz.org|
|2014-07-11||Raymond J. Talarico resigns as Director of Filewarden.com||bloomberg.com|
|2014-07-11||Talarico registers idataangel.com, mydataangel.com|
|2014-07-14||FileWarden.com delisted from OTCBB||bloomberg.com|
|2014-07-16||Talarico registers datagatekeeper.com|
|2014-11-15||Talarico registers safedatazone.com|
|2014-11-17||State of Wisconsin issues C&D against Secured Income Reserve, Inc., Ilona Alexis (a/k/a Roza) Mandelbaum, Matthew H. Sage. David A. Zimmerman, and Tamda Marketing, Inc. for selling unregistered securities||wdfi.org|
|2014-12-01||MyDataAngel.com, Inc. incorporated in Florida by Debra Towsley||search.sunbiz.org|
|2015-02-04||Talarico registers mydataangle.com|
|2015-02-09||FileWarden demo video posted to Youtube by “Nick Scott”||youtube.com|
|2015-08-08||Talarico registers datagatekeeper.tv, safedatazone.tv|
|2015-09-11||Talarico creates a demo video on how MDA works||youtube.com|
|2015-09-12||Talarico registers dataincidentreport.com, miangeldedatos.com, mydatatv.com, worlddataheadquarters.com|
|2015-09-18||“About MyDataAngel.com” posted on Youtube||youtube.com|
|2015-10-23||Talarico registers safedatasolution.com|
|2015-11-11||MyDataAngel.com issues an “executive brief”||Mirror|
|2015-11-24||dataangel.news is registered by Raymond Talarico|
|2015-12-10||MyDataAngel.com issues a year-end update for its investors.||Mirror|
|2015-12-16||MyDataAngel.com issues a PowerPoint presentation with an overview of their new product. Henryk (Henry) Mandelbaum is cited as CTO, Raymond Talarico as Founder and CEO, and Debra Towsley as Founder and President.||Mirror|
|2016-01-15||Talarico registers edatabuzz.com, edatanews.com, edatatareporter.com|
|2016-04-01||Installation tutorial posted||youtube.com|
|2016-04-01||First use tutorial posted||youtube.com|
|2016-04-05||DataGateKeeper help document created.||Mirror|
|2016-05-13||MyDataAngel.com KickStarter is launched.||kickstarter.com|
So what does this all mean? For one, the individuals involved have been scheming for years through the use of holding companies to launch their own ventures.
Sometime shortly before 2010, Centuri Cryptor was written although based on its design, it’s really tough to say if it was not started earlier, had an incompetent programmer involved, or was actually written later than what is claimed on LinkedIn. The use of controls reminiscent of Windows 3.1 is really confusing. The first evidence of the application in use does not appear on YouTube until the summer of 2013.
It is at this point that Ilona Mandelbaum arranged a compensation package for Raymond Talarico’s involvement in HSC Holdings (the assumed owner of Centuri) several months after Mandelbaum’s mining company transitioned into a technology one. A website was launched mentioning Henry Mandelbaum as CTO and Matthew Sage as COO.
Immediately following Talarico’s involvement, promotion of Centuri began via Twitter and a supposed, nameless conference in New York City. All of this appeared to be very feckless and a non-starter however.
At some point, Matthew Sage created FileWarden.com and transitioned Centuri over to that company with him and Talarico at the helm. Talarico then resigns from FileWarden just four months later but shortly before Mandelbaum and Sage were issued a cease and desist order by the State of Wisconsin for their business activities in another organization.
Eight months later, Talarico registers MyDataAngel.com, with Henry Mandelbaum (a relative of Ilona) as CTO, Talarico as CEO, and Debra Towsley as President. In November of 2015, work begins on creating a KickStarter and involvement of investors is suggested. And now in May 2016, we have the KickStarter where they’re asking for $25,000 USD but with no mention of Henry or Ilona Mandelbaum.
Does the application even exist?
It’s really tough to say but probably? The aforementioned YouTube video shows it in use but there are lot of problems with its claims.
The cryptography claims that it’s using a kilobyte-sized keyspace is absurd and the idea that AES is weak in contrast to them is just as much. They’re offering fifty to one-hundred year protection meanwhile with the right implementation of AES, you could be waiting until the heat-death of the universe to crack the data.
MyDataAngel, DataGateKeeper, Centuri Cryptor, FileWarden, or whatever it is called is complete garbage. They don’t need $25,000 to launch this application: it’s already available or at least is.
Here it is in 2015 (as FireWarden):
And here it is in 2013 (as Centuri):
And here’s Talarico’s video of him using it with Centuri’s name being mentioned:
Lastly, for shits and giggles, here are some amusing folders:
KickStarter’s lack of involvement in addressing these scams is really distressing as there is no legal recourse for someone in the event that it doesn’t follow through on its promises. This is the third time that a campaign for security software that’s outlandish and I am willing to believe that there will be no response from them on preventing new ones in the future. It’s really up to us as a community to pressure these snake oil products from never seeing the light of day.
Raymond Talarico and Debra Towsley don’t need the $25,000 either. As evident in the PDFs I’ve linked to, they claim to have investors and based on the YouTube videos, the software already exists.
This is probably not the last time we’ll have to write about this sort of thing either.
I’ll close off with this: someone forgot to re-register centuriglobal.com, the former domain of Centuri Cryptor so it now redirects to this blog piece.