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Scientology OT, after having scam shut down, tests the waters for a comeback

 
We’ve been keeping an eye on so many scammers in Scientology in recent years, it doesn’t surprise us too much to learn that we overlooked one.

But in order to tell this scammer’s story, allow us to back up a little to see where his journey has taken him.

In December 1998, the Washington Post published an excellent overview of the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson written by journalist Richard Leiby. Titled “The Life & Death of a Scientologist,” it was another well researched story by a reporter who had come to the Post from the Clearwater Sun, where he beat the LA Times team to the first mention of “Xenu” in a newspaper by some five years.

Leiby was top notch, and he became the target of a typically scummy campaign of “Fair Game” by the church.

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But we bring up his work and this 1998 article because a few days after it came out the Post published some angry letters by Scientologists, including this one:

I am a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served this nation as an Army officer for five years. I am now a technology businessman. I’ve also been a Scientologist since 1989, and I am writing to voice my discontent with the Dec. 6 Style article by Richard Leiby.

Leiby took on the role of judge, jury and executioner. For some people, his article will have barred the way (temporarily) to discovering a truly evolutionary philosophy. I hope your readers can count on another article to highlight the positive effects of several Washington-area Scientology groups, as well as other national and global programs, including drug rehabilitation, literacy, criminal reform and other laudable accomplishments. The success rates of these programs far exceed any programs attempted by any other philosophy or method, conventional or otherwise. — Brian Cotter

That’s a pretty typical boilerplate reaction that we see from Scientologists, but we appreciate the extra layer of gilding when Cotter mentions that he’s a West Pointer and served in the Army before going into tech. How could someone like that be anything but ramrod straight?

Cotter later got on our radar because he was so generous with his donations to the IAS, Scientology’s membership organization.

In 2014, we noted that he’d moved from Patron Meritorious to Gold Meritorious in only a year, which meant that he’d given about $750,000 in only twelve months.

“Were it not for the Sea Org and the IAS, we wouldn’t have a planet or a civilization right now. My 25 years of donating helped advance our goals and the end is in sight,” he wrote in an IAS advertisement that featured the photo you see above.

Five years later, he wore the same outfit as he was recognized at an IAS event in Beverly Hills with his wife Bette, this time for upping their donations to $1.75 million and the level of Gold Meritorious With Honors.

 

 
But then, in 2020, Cotter got himself into some hot water with the federal government. In late December, the Department of Justice announced that Cotter (under his full name, Michael Brian Cotter) was the kingpin of an international tech-services scam that had been targeting elderly computer users.

In a massive operation that linked up American law enforcement with their counterparts in India, Cotter’s numerous companies behind the scam were identified and shut down, including Global Digital Concierge and Tech Live Connect.

According to the government, Cotter’s employees had been making pop-up emergency notifications show up on the computer screens of victims that appeared to be from Microsoft, telling them that their machine was vulnerable to attack and needed emergency protection right away and urging them to call an 800 number. When they did, they were subjected to a phishing scheme that encouraged them to turn over their computer to remote control by scammers in India.

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When victims called the toll-free number, they were connected to India-based call centers participating in the fraud scheme. Call center workers asked victims to give them remote access to their computers and told victims that they detected viruses or other malware on their computers. Eventually, the call center workers would falsely diagnose non-existent problems and ask victims to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary services and software.

You know, we’ve always wondered who were the kind of people behind phishing scams and other ruses to ensnare computer users. Now we know: One of them was an OT Scientologist!

In their December 29 press release, the Department of Justice said that all of Cotter’s companies had been shut down in a permanent injunction in federal court, and the DOJ thanked Microsoft for helping to take down the fraud.

As far as we can tell, however, no criminal charges were filed against Cotter, who didn’t contest the civil case that shut down his companies. In fact, the case was taken care of in blazing speed, with an initial complaint filed and the injunction put in place in less than two months. We have to believe that Cotter’s cooperation and willingness not to fight the case had something to do with this.

So now it’s nearly a year later, and we wondered what Cotter is up to. We noticed that he posted three different versions of the same website, which consists entirely of a glowing bio about his time at West Point and the companies he has run, but nothing about the federal injunction.

As for his latest business venture, California business records show that in May 2020 Cotter was the founding manager of a new company called “LAEO GIS Analytics LLC.”

The “LAEO” part stands for Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization, which is a non-profit created by fellow Scientologist Barbara Wiseman and named after Lawrence Anthony, a South African conservationist who was best known for rescuing the animals of the Baghdad Zoo during the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. He was also a longtime Scientologist (in fact, a Freedom Medal winner), and he died of a heart attack in 2012.

Barbara Wiseman is the wife of Bruce Wiseman, the well known Scientologist and financial advisor, most recently profiled at the Hollywood Reporter in 2017. Bruce and Barbara are the parents of Kendra Wiseman, who, along with Astra Woodcraft and Jenna Miscavige Hill, in 2008 famously created the website ExScientologyKids, which was a huge challenge to the church. (Jenna was the niece of Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige.) Kendra soon dropped out of the website and has kept out of the public view since then.

Her mother Barbara, however, runs the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization, which spun off LAEO GIS Analytics, created by Brian Cotter. “GIS” stands for “geographic information systems,” and apparently the business name wasn’t the most memorable. So it was changed in May and is now known as “AquaTerreX.”

 

 
According to its website, AquaTerreX uses spiffy new technology to locate “deep water” in arid locations where no one else has been able to find a good place to sink a well. It’s focusing on Australia and the Western US, and its list of officers is shot through with Scientologists. All three top managers, for example — CEO James D’Arezzo, Managing Director Australia Darryl Bothe, and CFO Deborah Schreib — are all Scientologists.

Barbara Wiseman is listed as a member of the company’s “international board of advisors,” and so is an attorney named Steven L. Hayes. Some of you oldtimers might remember that name. It was Hayes, working for Scientology, who bought up the rights to the Cult Awareness Network after it was bankrupted in a lawsuit whose plaintiff had been recruited by the church.

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But besides Barbara Wiseman and Steven Hayes, the name that really grabbed us was this one…

 

 
This guy!

It’s been awhile, so some of our newer readers may not have been around to follow the Clark Carr Narconon saga. There was a time, several years ago, when Scientology’s drug rehab clinic network was under attack by a crusading attorney, Ryan Hamilton, who filed dozens of lawsuits against the rehabs around the country. At the time, Carr was the hapless figurehead of Narconon’s umbrella organization, Narconon International, and he found himself dragged into one lawsuit after another, including one filed by a credentialing organization that said Scientology was faking its counselors’ credentials, including Carr’s.

And then, thanks to our friend Mark Ebner, we discovered that Carr and Narconon International took a runner in 2015, and vanished from its Hollywood office. We heard that Carr was in Mexico after that, but we hadn’t heard anything about him for a few years.

How pleasant to find that he’s found steady work at a company founded by Brian Cotter. Seems fitting.

Anyway, we don’t really know much about AquaTerreX and whether it is doing useful work or not. We sent an email to its CEO, James D’Arezzo, asking him to address the fact that his company had been founded by a man the federal government named a major Internet scammer less than a year ago. We also asked him about the large number of Scientologists in the company, and whether they were using some special L. Ron Hubbard tech to locate water for wells or something.

We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.

 
UPDATE: Luke Catton messaged us to let us know that when he was president of Narconon Arrowhead, Barbara Wiseman was introduced to him as Clark Carr’s sister. Ah! So now it makes more sense why Carr, after his Narconon International debacle, has found work at a company spun off from his sister’s non-profit. These Scientologists do stick together!

 
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Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.

 
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Source Code

“How do you run a grief charge? Take him to the beginning of the moment when the incident first occurred….This goes way back on the track to a thing called, evidently, the Weeper — salt water. And for about half a million years man was having a hell of a time trying to rush into the waves long enough to get some food and rush back to get some air. And he didn’t have anything with which to rush. And it was, and it was very frustrating. So frustration winds up in spilling salt water. He had a couple of little tubes and he pushed these out of the shell and he’d pump like mad trying to pump out all the salt water. You run a preclear on this and it’s just fabulous.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 7, 1953

 
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Avast, Ye Mateys

“Persons on Festival posts must report back to former status and post. They will be assigned further by the ED 140 FAO Mission, Ens David Mayo in some instances. This mission, David Mayo and Andrea Sibirsky, has the job of phaseover. Help him all you can.” — The Commodore, October 7, 1971

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“At OT 34-40 (Games Master) = Games, one of the abilities is to get out of MEST Universe and appear at another time and space of MEST Universe at will.”

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Past is Prologue

1997: Keith Henson reported attention from Scientology private investigator Eugene Ingram this week. “A report has our favorite wanted-in-Florida felon actively dead agenting me to the other Alcor board members today. Most of them have known about this SP hobby of mine for a long time because I briefed them about it, and various things they should expect over a year ago. But Gene managed to get to one who had been out of the country at that time, and laid the usual DA material on him, making the slightly amusing claim that I had made one of my daughters pregnant. The funniest thing about all of this is that the guy Gene talked to is a board certified psychologist.”

 
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Random Howdy

“I had a dream I was L. Ron Hubbard and I was wearing a cape, sitting on a throne, with a bevy of teenage beauties sitting at my feet.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.

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Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference October 7 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for November 2.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] First look at ‘Brothers Broken,’ a Scientology documentary that features the Bunker
[TWO years ago] As Scientologists face another day in L.A. court, we have a bizarre twist to the case
[THREE years ago] Exploiting Tony Bourdain’s suicide or giving out weird massages, Scientology never rests
[FOUR years ago] Scientology is hacked off that Luis Garcia and attorney will appear on ‘Leah Remini’
[FIVE years ago] What’s the worst that can happen when you sue Scientology? Here’s one frightening example.
[SIX years ago] A secret Scientology wake, a ‘Snow White’ link, & more odd twists emerge in the Cat White story
[SEVEN years ago] Comedy gold: Mark Ebner catches Scientology cheating with Sarah Silverman
[EIGHT years ago] U.S. SUPREME COURT DENIES SCIENTOLOGY IN FORCED-ABORTION LAWSUIT
[NINE years ago] How You Can Help Raise Money for Narconon’s Legal Defense!

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,446 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,951 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,471 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,491 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,382 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,689 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,557 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,331 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,661 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,135 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,451 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,017 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,936 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,104 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,685 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,946 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,983 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,697 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,222 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 577 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,752 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,303 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,452 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,772 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,627 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,746 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,102 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,405 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,511 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,909 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,785 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,368 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,863 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,117 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,226 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 7, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast

 

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