Will the Real Daniel Flöckinger Please Stand Up?

I have been working odd hours recently. Following the PITA Fraud Forum I am vacationing in New Zealand, which means my morning routine of checking all my work email now occurs late at night per European time. So you can imagine my surprise when I woke to find one of the most infamous personalities in telecoms fraud management had just left a comment complaining that somebody else was impersonating him on Commsrisk. Immediately leaping into action, I followed the advice of Dan Blackband on how to identify fake social media accounts and tried to work out how I had been fooled. But before I reached my conclusion the accuser’s comment had been removed! And so were all the comments previously made by the ‘fake’ user account too! So to repeat a line from game show Tell the Truth (pictured above) I must ask: will the real Daniel Flöckinger please stand up?

Seriously, the real Daniel Flöckinger should get in touch now. And any fake Daniel Flöckingers should stop messing around. Because either the real Daniel Flöckinger did something remarkably silly – the internet crime known as sockpuppetry – or an impersonator did the same thing. The aim of sockpuppetry is normally to create multiple online identities so they can generate attention for the single real user behind them by arguing with each other online. But in this case the likeliest explanation is that the real Daniel Flöckinger (because nobody else would want to promote him) created two genuine Disqus accounts in his own (differently-spelled) name and then used one to accuse the other of being a fake. And then realizing how daft that was, he regretted this decision within half an hour and tried to cover his tracks by removing all his comments from both accounts.

Unlike the European Union, I do not believe in the right to be forgotten. I believe the internet should be like a block of stone – once you carve your name into it, there should be no way to erase all the stupid things you did, because we all need protection from serial liars much more than we need protection from the things we really did but now regret. So when you post to my website you should be aware that I never forget. And to prove it, here is the full story of all the comments left by the two Daniel Flöckingers…

Daniel Flöckinger

Huh!

Someone posts in my name? WTF!

That was the comment that started this ball rolling. It was posted on 2016/08/28 at 7:36pm UTC in the comment thread for an article about the abuse given to me by an employee of Falcon Business Research. User Daniel Flöckinger used an IP address in Austria (which is where the real Flöckinger lives) and an email address using the @keritel.net domain, which matches the website of a business that he has been associated with. It followed another comment from the same user left at 7:28pm UTC, in response to criticism in another comment. This is what the second Flöckinger wrote:

Dear Mr. Younis!

Excuse me but your allegations are quite nonsense. May i ask where you got this information? in the past 20 years, I do not recall working for Araxxe nor any other business than my own.

However, the chairman of the event was indeed bad. I remember clearly that there was a question if losses resulting from fraud should be reflected in the books or not. This was a pretty absurd question, especially since IFRS is pretty strict and these standards should be known by people who run RAFM, dont you think?

You may believe whatever you like. Calling me fraud is however a tough allegation and someone as professional as you are should not spread such unsolicited information. Especially with nothing in hand than rumors.

The same Disqus user also posted a comment 5 months earlier, in response to an article about conference organizers accusing each other of dishonesty.

Hi Eric!

It is an interesting article. Falcon and Quintus are both Indian companies. Both are in competition and obviously this competition is tough. John, who was mentioned in your article is real. I met him in person last year in Dubai.

Quintus on the other hand, i dont know. We were asked to sponsor this event and agreed (ARES) to do so as it would be held in Austria, which is our home. However, their responses were very slow and just yesterday i have pulled out.

I think both companies are genuine, however Mr. Ali from Falcon seems to he a hot head. In any case, both are far from being professional. Thats for sure.

So this Daniel Flöckinger appears to be genuine. Though not definitive, he used an appropriate IP address and email address, and he had a plausible track record of leaving comments. Now let us turn to the comments which are supposed to be from the ‘fake’ Flöckinger account. The ‘WTF’ comment was left in a thread where a user called Daniel Floeckinger had already left comments. For those of you unfamiliar with German, both spellings of the surname are correct because the German ö can be alternatively rendered as oe. And the interesting thing about Daniel Floeckinger is that his account appears to be genuine too, using an Austrian IP address and an email address ending @ares-fraud.net, which is also a web domain associated with one of Flöckinger’s businesses. That account left two comments on the same thread about dodgy conference organizers:

Hello Hossenbaccus Mohammad Sha’ad!

I was a speaker on 3 events and sponsored 2. They used our logo as well as my photo from Linkedin.

Of course i never spoke.
Of course i never sponsored.

But… thats how they work.

Hi Eric!

I had the same experience with him when i decided to sponsor and host the RAFM Event in Vienna. Hell broke loose. I received several emails. Most in the same tone and attitude like the ones you received. He literally bombarded me with emails and comments on various platforms until i stopped answering and blocked him from contacting me on linkedin.

Mohammed Ali surely has a problem. Which one, i dont know.

And to add further credibility, the same user also posted a comment to a different article about the sudden disappearance of the Quintus RAFM event which had been scheduled to occur in Vienna and which Flöckinger’s ARES business was supposed to be sponsoring.

Hi Eric! Good article. We (ARES) have dropped out due to the mess between Quintuss and Falcon. The team was ready to promote but when Mr. Mohammad Ali started this unjust shitstorm http://commsrisk.com/rafm-event-organizer-accuses-rivals-of-fraud-doubts-raised-about-sponsors/ over some internal dispute, we pulled out. Sad story.

In conclusion, we have two separate Disqus accounts, using two different (but correct) spellings of Daniel Flöckinger’s name, both being managed from Austria, using email addresses associated with Flöckinger’s businesses, leaving multiple comments written in the same style and referring to topics that would interest Daniel Flöckinger. So I concluded both are real, even though one commented that the other was fake. And I published my findings publicly. But in the meantime all of the comments left by the two Flöckinger accounts were removed from Commsrisk. So I had done the decent thing – checking that a well-known practitioner was not being impersonated – only to find my time was wasted because the real Flöckinger was using two separate accounts and had denounced himself as a fake in order to draw attention to himself!

And then my conclusions were confirmed by an email, from the same ARES address as used for the ‘fake’ Flöckinger Disqus account.

From: Daniel Floeckinger ARES [XXXXX@ares-fraud.net]

Subject: Recent posts at commsrisk.

To: XXXXX@commsrisk.com

Hello Eric!

I saw your “Moderator” post about me and would like to comment “off record”.

Of course both accounts are mine. Obviously i had two, (not knowing that i had 2, so i accidently “accused” the second to be fraud. Just a mistake.

I deleted both accounts including the comments to protect myself from the recent shitstorm against me launched by Falcon and their backers.

You see, this business is full of people (and in particular vendors) who are not able to take critics. Falcon as well as Mr. Mohamed Ali belong in this category. I had my fight with him and at a point where he turned badly abusive in his emails and threatened me of destroying my name, i just stopped responding to his emails.

Unfortunately, he is doing what the threatened me with. He is telling stories about me at all his events. I heard from a customer in Jordan as well as Tunisia that i am accused of being a fraudster, a liar, a cheater etc. All not true but… rumors spread quickly and as you know… they are sticky.

After i was again subject to some harsh allegations and a defamation campaign on linkedin as well as here at commsrisk, i decided to delete my account and the comments posted there. I did that to protect myself and my business interests.

I know that i am stepping on the toes of a lot of people. Especially because i am very straight to the point and know what i am talking about. There is a lot of people in this field who have no clue of what they are actually saying or selling and a lot of vendors, see danger to their business in what i am saying because i tell people the truth and advise them not to buy something they already have.

The recent campaign against me started when Falcon posted photos of people who were awarded with all sorts of awards they created. These photos circulate on Linkedin and show their main vendors sponsors receiving a award for being best solution for this and that. I have no problem with this as i think it is important list the best solutions for battling all sorts of fraud out there. However, these awards were “Fantasy awards”. There was no jury. There was no vote. There was nothing. These awards were given to these people due to the fact that they are Falcon sponsors.

I will no longer comment on Commsrisk. I´d love to but i better not. These people can cause a lot of damage to my business. I better stay quiet than speak out what everyone should know.

Thx for understanding.

Greetings / Mit freundlichen Grüßen / بإخلاص
Ikhlas / Искренне / 真诚 / Saludos / Sinceramente

Daniel Flöckinger

I am understanding – up to a point. Being impersonated is a bad thing, and so whilst I want a relaxed policy towards comments I take allegations of impersonation seriously. But having gone to the trouble to protect Flöckinger from impersonation, I learned he wanted to go “off record” when clearing up the discrepancies between his comments. ***Screw that***

Now I have put it all on the record. Whatever the explanation, some truth was mixed with falsehoods and we deserve to know the full truth.

For full transparency, here was my email reply to Flöckinger:

Hello Daniel,

Thanks for sharing these insights.

However, I do not believe your account. You say “of course” both accounts were yours. But that is not obvious. And you used one account to say the other was fake. So you wasted my time when I checked if Commsrisk has a problem with people impersonating you. So it seems that the likeliest explanation is that you tried to generate attention for yourself by deliberately claiming the other account was a fake, and then you deleted all those comments because you regretted your stupidity.

All of this will be published on Commsrisk soon. But I’m glad that my supposition will now be supported by your email, which will be reproduced in full.

Regards,

Eric

Since then Flöckinger has left another comment on Commsrisk and he may leave more, despite suggesting that we was afraid to ‘speak out’ because of the damage being done by the dishonesty of other people. Flöckinger may leave more comments, and I will not do anything to stop him. Probably I will be in the middle of a forest, and (happily) disconnected from this kind of nonsense!

RAFM is nothing without integrity. We work in a field which relies on trust. But we suffer a cancer of recurring and persistent dishonesty. Commsrisk will back Flöckinger when he questions the authenticity of awards handed out by various organizations. Commsrisk will also be transparent when we learn of misrepresentations, whether accidental or deliberate, whether from Flöckinger or anyone else.

We all need to clean our act up. You know what I am talking about: not just Flöckinger and Falcon but everyone willing to pretend that a fake certificate is a real job qualification or who proudly holds aloft an award that they know they paid for. We expect a certain standard of honesty from real professionals like doctors and lawyers. The bad behavior of this ‘profession’ shows how immature we really are. Commsrisk will play its part, but you must too. The excuse that ‘I had better stay quiet or they will hurt my business’ is not good enough. All of this is your business. We are all dragged into the mire of distrust and suspicion by the dishonesty of others. We may not be responsible for falsehoods, but we can make ourselves responsible for enforcing the truth. The real Daniel Flöckinger has stood up (even if I had to pull away his chair to make him do it). Now you must stand up too.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Director of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.