Intelligent Misfits - John McAfee, Paul Le Roux And Others
80: Never bet against geniuses.
Before we continue any further. We feel it’s important to mention - we do not support any of the individuals mentioned below. Neither are we supporting any of their actions. The point we are trying to make is simple. You can’t take away geniuses from any of them. Not just them. But any true genius. No matter what kind of shady business or unethical thing they pulled off in their life.
They had unique methods and intelligence to do so.
Which is, when you think about it in that sense unique. The article is for those ready to learn more about how one of the best brains in the last 30 years has turned to the "dark side". Using their powers in an unethical way - not necessarily bad. Some of them turned into the "good guys" in the end. But for some specific actions in which, they had an interest. Bringing you a short overview of highly intelligent misfits worth reading deeper into.
Misfits On The List
We are sure quite a few individuals should have made the list but didn’t. No doubt. From our personal experience, there are quite a few forum characters we remember back from those days that could have their own Netflix shows - at least the stories they posted were show-worthy. Not getting into any details, whether they were real or fake. But considering that back in the day, most internet users were anonymous. There was significantly less lying online than today since fewer egos were involved - that’s how we feel.
To get back to our topic and how we picked highly intelligent misfits. Pretty much based on the "popularity" they have received over the years. All the characters on the list made multiple appearances in media and news. Few of them even have documentary movies, books, and everything that comes with it such as John. What we have seen in most documentaries didn’t do justice. Choose the books if possible. The Mastermind: Drugs, Empire, and Murder is an amazing read. Giving you an overview of what kind of lean business Le Roux was running. The idea is not to go into details or support any of those. Just enough to get your attention and get you to do research for yourself. Ready to dive deep into a few of the individuals below?
Starting the list with one of the greatest.
Background: Started his programming career at NASA. Created the first commercial antivirus McAfee and had that sweet multi-million exit. You have to be real here. It’s hard not to become degen with a life like that.
Where to start with this one? John was operating on another level in all aspects. Creator of the first commercially successful antivirus - arguably he also created the first virus. Doesn’t take rocket scientists to figure out what he did - pushing things far. Being one of the crypto pioneers - talking about economics and how things will shift in the upcoming years. Probably had millions not reported in the crypto. John donated equipment full of malicious software that, in the end he used to spy on the Belize government and local police. We feel he is one of those who took the thing too far with the wrong people - read government. Unfortunately, a tragic end for John.
Paul Le Roux
Background: Created an E4M that even the NSA could not break into - at that time. Many rumors that he was the original BTC creator or better said Satoshi. He started his empire as a drug kingpin - playing affiliate games.
Arguably the most popular misfit (right now) in the article. The story runs deep. Software engineer turning into sophisticated arms - drug dealer and everything else that falls on your mind. He was even an affiliate marketer operation. Having a personal army and spinning multiple operations in Africa and Asia.
There were numerous 4chan posts about him being the original creator of Bitcoin - claiming that Bitcoin is a by-product created for money laundering. At this point, no one cares anymore. Everyone is investing in it for their purpose - you should too. There is also a rumor that he planned to create special hardware to efficiently mine Bitcoin, but never finished it. Current status? Le Roux is in jail.
Background: Kid that went fully Blackhat and created one of the most infamous websites called "Silk Road" - enough said. Older readers will know what we are talking about.
Ross was a bloody genius when you think about it. Creating an e-commerce platform where you could buy the most degen items you could think of. Running on the Dark Web, to which the government doesn’t have access - don’t believe in that story. We feel Ross would fit a typical money Twitter stereotype.
Not one with second-hand Rolexs and rented cars. But the one who thinks that is too smart to get caught. Silk Road had over 500k sales per week of drugs, arms, and body parts. Unfortunately for Ross, his startup was booming, but he didn’t vouch for his associates well enough. He ended up ordering a hit on his associate. We are not trying to turn this into a Telenovela. But you get the picture. The current status is similar to the misfit above. Ross is in jail, and apparently, he will not get out anytime soon.
Background: Started with phone exploits when he was 18 years old and was charged with computer and communications fraud. Got caught by the FBI just to work with them in the end. Many lessons in there.
Started his hacking career quite early. In 1992 got arrested by the FBI and sentenced to five years in prison. Mitnick was running sophisticated social engineering operations at the time - one of the pioneers. After getting out of jail, Mitnick wrote a few books, ran his cybersecurity company, and worked alongside the FBI helping them. Brilliant mind turned his story into a big positive in the end. Huge move that few could pull off. Mitnick passed away back in 2023.
Solid watch if you want to dive deeper into Kevin's story.
Background: Hacked into NASA when he was 14 years old - enough said.
Started his hacking journey in high school. Albert didn’t follow the standard college path. Instead, he found a role at Siemens. After quitting, he and his buddies run a website called ShadowCrew, selling stolen credit card information. Most of the guys on the list made certain types of WiFi money - not legally.
He got big in hacking into the corporate world and had access to over 400k credit cards. Here we are talking about serious damage. At the same time, he spent 75k on one of his birthdays (we are talking about 2006) - quite a degen way to do this. Living a double life during the day, helping the service, and spending nights on hacking activities.
Background: Homeless for a certain period of life. Went deep into the whole WikiLeaks thing.
Adrian was a character, without a doubt. Someone living from a backpack and hacking into corporations - to show them their security is bad and fix their customer tickets. We are still not sure what to think about that. The most "famous" moment of his hacking career was getting into the New York Times and giving himself admin access - putting himself on the hacking expert list.
This is a huge IQ play. One that, unfortunately, like most of the others on the list, ended up tragically. This resulted in getting arrested by the FBI. At one moment Adrian decided to get into some crazy WikiLeaks scheme we are not planning to cover - give this a read. It goes deep. Adrian passed away back in 2018.
Lamo - Mitnick - Poulsen
Background: Broke into multiple defense contractors and Naval laboratories being 17 years old.
Kevin did pull an amazing scheme when he was 24 years old - blocking all the calls and winning himself a Porsche. He didn’t do it once. But twice. Deserves a place on the list of intelligent misfits. That’s not all. Hacking into the FBI, playing with the president’s numbers, and gathering government data. Spent 5 years in jail. But, in the end, was charged with minor crimes. Guess why? Oh yeah, he was an asset to the Service. A story that repeats throughout the whole article.
Recognizing The Pattern
No reason for full-blown biographies. Instead, we try to provide highlights that may catch your eye. Something subjective. We strongly suggest diving deeper and paying attention to how they operate. Not even necessarily that. But what kind of actions did they take to get themselves an advantage. Better said what angle of "thinking" they had behind their actions.
Notice the pattern on the list. All the individuals were a high threat to the state and caused the damage - gathering data they should not have. Most of them were "magically given a second opportunity". Better said, put it into perspective. Most of them were on the "wrong side" but in the end, they were allowed to switch to the "right side". If you wonder why…
They ended up being assets to the state instead of threats.
Especially when we are talking about those older gents from the article. When hacking, coding, and social engineering didn’t play as huge roles as they do today. Scouting for talent was much different. No doubt, the same games are still being played today. But it’s nowhere near as close to how it used to be. Most of them were living a double life - which is interesting. Cooperating with authorities during the day and doing blackhat activities on the side during the night. Similar to what you should be doing with your WiFi money after you finish your 9-5 work.
No one can tell we didn’t cover interesting misfits and plays that you rarely see anyone else being able to pull off. Highly intelligent misfits who are not straight-up criminals are rare. In this sense, it gives you an idea of how you should think and move - angel if nothing else. Not legal advice. But something to make you think, or at least provide you with fun for a few hours.
Remember the old WSP: "Never bet against the geniuses"
Individuals on the list are just another proof that it is true. We strongly suggest you read more about WiFi money and security basics. This way, you will have a certain advantage when falling into traps around the web. We would even call it the minimum securities you need to have in place for your WiFi money operations to run smoothly.
Check out our list of approved products to make your life easier
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