Category: fraud

Eton pupils exposed “cheating at life in general”

Eton College has been hit by further controversy after it emerged that boys studying there were sharing details of our most important national institutions. A major inquiry suggests that cheating may be widespread at the ancient school, with students going to extreme lengths to achieve an unfair advantage in public examinations, their future careers, and life in general.

“One of the young men concerned has been offering advice to the general public about our relations with the European Union, even though he can’t tell his arse from Brussels with both hands and a 1:25000 scale map,” said a representative of the exam board, Cambridge International Examinations, who wished to remain anonymous. “The worst of it is that he spent formative years of his life there. He can only have slipped through the net through some sort of massive, unearned privilege.”

Our own inquiries quickly turned up more cases. Another Etonian seems to have spent as many as six years in a highly paid job in the prime ministerial industry without having any detectable qualifications – except that he thought “he’d be quite good at it”. A statistical review of exam data suggests that the scandal may have been going on for decades unchecked. One witness to the sheer enormity of the fraud is this newspaper’s editor in chief, Tristram Clodthrust. When we spoke to him earlier, Mr Clodthrust said that “I don’t consider myself privileged, but to be honest the rest of my year were so pig-ignorant I’ve been coasting since 1971. Sherry?”

“Shit, you’re not going to quote me on that are you? Now I remember why I never talk to any of you reporter scum. Except Jeremy of course.”

The exam authorities are expected to discard the mark for the first part of the affected pupils’ lives, and instead award a final grade based on an average of their future marks and those forecast before the discredited examination. “Really, this is the least we could do,” said the anonymous CIE spokesperson. “I mean, it literally is the least we could do. Getting away with a major crime or incompetent bungle is an important part of the independent school experience – in the future, we expect these young people to brazen out lost elections, disastrous decade-long military campaigns, trillion-dollar bankruptcies, and of course the classics, like embarrassing pregnancies and egregiously racist newspaper columns, publicised to millions, that somehow everyone’s forgotten.”

A letter from Eton’s headmaster, a copy of which this newspaper has seen thanks to George Teign-Barton (by the way, the bleeding has almost stopped), said that details of basically everything of any importance in British society had been shown to an old Etonian teaching at another institution, one of whose pupils had communicated them among the majority of the boys after he got out of the institution.

“There is no suggestion that anyone at Eton has done anything wrong,” he said in a statement that wasn’t technically false. “As for Question 6, the 2023 general election, Marina, Marina’s husband, and the payoff probability of Rabobank No.2 Children’s AA- Mortgage Bond Trust, remember to never let a sucker get an even break.”

Note: I am not joking about the exam board’s solution. How many pompous declarations on academic offences did I sign, promising an immediate fail and possible police involvement? Yet here they are: Pupils were told their marks for the first part of the art history paper would be discarded, and the pupils would instead receive a final grade based on an average of their marks and forecast grades.

More questions on the Biryani Project.

Randy McDonald, and probably others, seem to have found the Afzal Amin piece baffling, so I thought I’d draft a brief explainer as follows.

Afzal Amin, potential Tory MP and ex-army officer, tried to incite the EDL to stage a provocative demonstration in his heavily Muslim constituency during the campaign, while also inciting a group of radical-ish Muslims to protest the EDL. He then tried to get the EDL to call off the demo (that he incited) when he asked. The point was to create a situation in which Amin could appear at the last minute and resolve the conflict without a nasty ruck between EDL football thugs and semi-jihadis, presumably vastly adding to his prestige and authority and getting him elected.

Obviously, as this involved the EDL backing down and CAVING IN TO THE TERRORISTS, or maybe just COMPROMISING WITH THE SYSTEM, they needed a big side-payment. Amin promised their leaders money or possibly jobs, plus support to integrate the EDL into respectable politics, and also offered to pay rank-and-file EDL activists hard cash to campaign for him. Using hired canvassers at an election is illegal in the UK in itself. He also seems to have had ambitions to roll out the process elsewhere in the UK, and to be inspired by David Kilcullen/Galula/etc counterinsurgency theory. Unfortunately for him, he was caught – somehow – by the Mail on Sunday‘s investigations team, which managed to video him conspiring with the EDL in a curry house.

A really interesting question is where he was going to get the money to pay off the EDL (and presumably also his vaguely edgy Muslims). It turns out he has an incredibly shady fake NGO, which got a no-bid contract to the tune of £120k with a bit of the government that has responsibility for counter-radicalisation policy, the CONTEST programme, incidentally headed by a political buddy of his. So the obvious conclusion is that he planned to put the EDL, and probably the Muslims, on his NGO’s payroll and bill the expenses to the government. At which point we need to ask whether the CONTEST people knew about the whole caper and this was some sort of ill-thought out amateur spook scheme. That said, it’s not like huge irresponsibility, deceit, incredibly careless handling of public money, and the use of government resources for one’s election campaign aren’t enough to be going on with.

Before the whole affair sinks into obscurity, I think it’s worth following up some questions that are still outstanding. First of all, Amin mentioned to the EDL that he’d been meeting “some Muslim lads” regarding what I will from now on call the Biryani Project. This sounds very much like he wanted to make sure there would be an angry and at least somewhat radicalised reception committee for the planned EDL march, in order to maximise the conflict he would then solve.

Presumably, if the Biryani Project was indeed meant to serve as a model and be rolled out nationally, it would need angry Muslims just as much as it needed the EDL. Logically, if he needed to hire Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, he would also need to hire the Muslims. So that’s another group of people he’d need to pay or place in a sinecure of some sort. What did he promise them and how did he intend to deliver?

Secondly, who were these Muslims? A place to start looking would be here – via Labour candidate Kate Godfrey’s Twitter feed, it seems he tried to incite the Muslim Public Affairs Committee to insult him about his military service.

Why he bothered when Dan Hardie will insult him about his military service for the sheer pleasure of the thing is another question.

MPAC UK’s involvement needs some parsing, though. The simplest explanation is that they were the “Muslim lads”, in which case we might reason that they were involved and are accelerating away from the mess, or alternatively, if we accept they are telling the truth, that Amin was deluding himself about their involvement. Both are possible. It is also possible that he addressed himself both to MPAC UK and to some other group.

In general, we should be looking for a group around Dudley who were offered a grant, and I suspect a detailed review of the DCLG’s report and accounts (here) might be telling. I’ve yet to find anything suspicious, although I do wonder why literally the only Google hit for “Srebrenica memorial day” and the organisation DCLG thinks it gave the grant to is the DCLG accounts. That could be a clerical error, though. Anyway, the Curzon Institute’s grant is in there, and Amin says he’d been talking to the EDL for at least a year – which means he had DCLG’s money in hand when he began the project.

Meanwhile, Theresa May sets out an important counter-radicalisation initiative:

After several months of disagreement the only official anti-extremism unit to be formed immediately is an “Extremism Analysis Unit”, which set out a blacklist of individuals and organisations with whom the government and the public sector should not engage.

Presumably, except over a chicken biryani at the Celebrity Restaurant, Dudley?

Meanwhile, on the question of Amin’s career, the Wikipedia article has improved to the extent of including the London Gazette mentions for his commission, promotion, and retirement, which places him in the Education & Training Branch throughout. The “Counterinsurgency and Stabilisation Centre”, which someone asked about, is a terminology error for the Land Stabilisation and Counterinsurgency Centre, which was headed by Alexander Alderson and whose name implies it belonged to Land Command rather than the Defence Academy.

Not this shit again. In which I praise a Tory

Remember the magic lie-detector voice analyzer? It’s baaack. Also, Cornish Tory councillor Fiona Ferguson is a mensch.

Here’s the story; it seems the council hired Capita aka Crapita to put the fear of God into people claiming single person’s council tax discount (THE BASTARDS!). Capita, which is the sole UK distributor of 100% guaranteed pure snake oil Nemesysco’s patent voice-stress analyzer that doesn’t work, proposed to ring ’em up and wave the dead chicken at them.

Fiona Ferguson remembered the story, (I presume) googled, noted that the Department of Work & Pensions had tried it and found it useless, and decided to tell them to bugger off. But it was too late…

“I have discussed this matter with the monitoring officer. He has advised me that, as this is an operational matter in relation to a contract that the council has already entered into, he strongly advises me that I should not require that this software is not used. If, contrary to his advice, I maintain my stance that we must not use this software then officers will comply, provided you also agree.

You [Jim Currie, the council leader] have made it clear to me that you will not agree. Indeed, you have said that I will be ‘sacked’ if I inform members [of the council] that this software will be used. That will not be necessary. Please accept my resignation with immediate effect.”

Pyramid schemes in Darfur

I briefly touched on South Sudan’s new instant brewery yesterday. A associated, rather than strictly related, development is this startlingly weird Reuters AlertNet story; OK, so there’s been a riot in a refugee camp in Darfur. Right. People have been killed. Not good. But a riot by people who lost money in an investment fraud? In the wilds of western Sudan?

Seriously. It seems that someone in El Fasher ran a classic Ponzi burn on a large number of people. They paid in money or goods and received “certificates”; to begin with some of them actually received payouts; then, as always, the curve went exponential, the inevitable crash arrived, and they lost it all. And then they went looking for the guy who burned them, with a view to burning him.

The weirdest bit of this is that you can actually promote a Ponzi fraud there; Charles Ponzi invented his eponymous scam in the hyperurban world of Italian Boston in the 1920s. How many people would you expect to be even vaguely familiar with the concept of investing money in securities in a Darfuri refugee camp? A few years ago, there would have been no chance.

The Sudanese government’s own peculiarly vicious take on counter-insurgency, which bears a similarity to the Soviet strategy in mid-80s Afghanistan, was to bomb and raid them until they flee to the big city (in relative terms), where they are thought to be easier to keep an eye on. Samuel Huntington – for it is he! – thought something similar was happening in South Vietnam in the 1960s. In an odd symmetry, the logistics of international humanitarian aid reinforced this – aid is delivered to the refugee camp, because it’s where refugees are, and it’s near an airfield.

The result has been a form of instant urbanisation; interestingly, however, there is little evidence that the strategy was successful in its own terms. The population has become an urban one, but that doesn’t mean its opinions are any different, and the problems of policing an instant city are hardly any easier than those of patrolling a vast wilderness; the guerrilla base area still exists, but rather than being the desert, now it’s the urban wall of silence – a fortification in software.

In other news, you may consider this a contribution to Daniel Davies’ ongoing international symposium on “The Geneva Conventions – Actually Pretty Good When You Really Think About It”.

Pyramid schemes in Darfur

I briefly touched on South Sudan’s new instant brewery yesterday. A associated, rather than strictly related, development is this startlingly weird Reuters AlertNet story; OK, so there’s been a riot in a refugee camp in Darfur. Right. People have been killed. Not good. But a riot by people who lost money in an investment fraud? In the wilds of western Sudan?

Seriously. It seems that someone in El Fasher ran a classic Ponzi burn on a large number of people. They paid in money or goods and received “certificates”; to begin with some of them actually received payouts; then, as always, the curve went exponential, the inevitable crash arrived, and they lost it all. And then they went looking for the guy who burned them, with a view to burning him.

The weirdest bit of this is that you can actually promote a Ponzi fraud there; Charles Ponzi invented his eponymous scam in the hyperurban world of Italian Boston in the 1920s. How many people would you expect to be even vaguely familiar with the concept of investing money in securities in a Darfuri refugee camp? A few years ago, there would have been no chance.

The Sudanese government’s own peculiarly vicious take on counter-insurgency, which bears a similarity to the Soviet strategy in mid-80s Afghanistan, was to bomb and raid them until they flee to the big city (in relative terms), where they are thought to be easier to keep an eye on. Samuel Huntington – for it is he! – thought something similar was happening in South Vietnam in the 1960s. In an odd symmetry, the logistics of international humanitarian aid reinforced this – aid is delivered to the refugee camp, because it’s where refugees are, and it’s near an airfield.

The result has been a form of instant urbanisation; interestingly, however, there is little evidence that the strategy was successful in its own terms. The population has become an urban one, but that doesn’t mean its opinions are any different, and the problems of policing an instant city are hardly any easier than those of patrolling a vast wilderness; the guerrilla base area still exists, but rather than being the desert, now it’s the urban wall of silence – a fortification in software.

In other news, you may consider this a contribution to the ongoing international symposium on “The Geneva Conventions – Actually Pretty Good When You Really Think About It”.