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The Unintelligent Design of SureFire Intelligence

October 30, 2018

By Aric Toler

Translations: Русский

On October 30th, the far-right site Gateway Pundit published documents alleging that Robert Mueller, who is heading up the investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, sexually assaulted a woman in 2010. The firm that produced this “investigation” was quickly revealed to be SureFire Intelligence, which has a tiny digital footprint prior to the Mueller allegations.

Jacob Wohl, a 20-year-old conservative activist who is most well known for his reports from “hipster coffee shops in downtown LA” about how Trump is secretly popular among young liberals, tweeted about the allegations against Mueller a day before they surfaced on Gateway Pundit, which he also writes for.

DNS Ties

The “intelligence firm” that prepared the allegation, SureFire Intelligence, was linked to Wohl due to DNS registration records saved on CuteStat.com. These records show that someone using the email jacob.wohl@nexmanagement.com was involved with the domain registration for surefireintelligence.com.

Jacob Wohl previously worked at Nex Management, as is clear from their account tweeting a photograph of him with Trump, naming him as “CEO”.

A SureFire Miss

The “intelligence” firm itself seems legitimate at first glance, with over a dozen employees working there according to LinkedIn, a somewhat professional-looking website at surefireintelligence.com, a Twitter page, and a few posts on Medium [note: deleted, archived here] referencing it. However, under any actual scrutiny, all of these facades fall apart.

When searching for the various employees who list their employment as SureFire Intelligence, nearly all of them use stolen profile photographs. In particular, many of these photographs use the sepia-toned filter that was likely used to disrupt reverse image search algorithms.

Their “Tel Aviv Station Chief” uses a photograph of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.

One of their “Investigators” from Boston uses a stock photograph with extra filters added on.

An LA-based “Private Investigator” at SureFire Intelligence bears a strong resemblance to Nick Hopper, a British model and photographer.

A woman who describes herself as the “Head of Government Relations” at SureFire Intelligence either does not exist, or is actually a stock photo model.

The “Deputy Director of Operations” at SureFire is also fake, unless he moonlights as a minister from Michigan.

Other “employees” at SureFire Intelligence also stole their profile pictures from others, but perhaps the most brazen is their Zurich-based “Financial Investigator” — Christoph Waltz.

Few, if any, of these profile photographs produced results when running a reverse Google Image search. However, Jacob Wohl, or whoever else created these LinkedIn profiles, was probably not aware that when they were plugged into Yandex Image Search — which is far more powerful with facial recognition — all of the LinkedIn photographs will bring back surefire results.

 

Update: The Medium user “Evan Goldman”, who claimed to be an Israeli analyst specializing in writing on private intelligence, used a profile picture stolen from a model named Oran Katan, as discovered by Byron Kittle. “Goldman” wrote a glowing profile on SureFire Intelligence, claiming to visit their headquarters and speaking with their analysts. He deleted his Medium profile today, but his Twitter is still active [archive] as of this update.

Aric Toler

Aric Toler started volunteering for Bellingcat in 2014 and has been on staff since 2015. He currently heads up Bellingcat's training efforts and its Eastern Europe/Eurasia research.

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86 Comments

  1. Mr.Bushkin

    Quote: “Tel Aviv Station Chief”

    This makes the whole thing smell like a CIA fabrication.

    Reply
    • Matt

      No. The whole thing appears to have been fabricated by Jacob Wohl (which was made clear if you read the article) and Jack Burkman (a conspiracy-peddling right wing lobbyist).

      Reply
      • Thomas

        I’ll never understand why people leave comments on articles they clearly didn’t even bother to read. Annoying. He deserved the wry reply, Matt. Don’t let them muddy the waters!

        Reply
  2. fishmanxxx

    Again you guys appear ahead of investigative agencies (FBI) at least for what they might state publicly. Your site is the one i go to when things smell off, and as this story was first reported, it immediately started to stink!
    What will people do for Trump is beyond imagination and I’m sure Mueller’s patience must be at his limit! Mueller appears to be man of great honour and I suspect the gloves are off now!
    Go get ‘em Bobby!

    Reply
  3. concerned citizen

    So apparently there’s a press conference tomorrow where the alleged victim will be appearing.

    But commenters here have informed me that it’s been proven no alleged victim exists, or alternatively that the victim has denied anything took place.

    So who will be at the press conference then? Any sensible answers? Oh wait, I’m on bellingcat.

    Reply
    • Alan Fraser

      They are completely discredited by their own actions and lies. Trying to pretend that what they are talking about has any merit is just fascinating. How do you explain away the made up company that supposedly investigated all of this?
      Or that the original claims were made that specified a place and date when Mueller was in another state? And so much more.

      Reply
      • Jeroen

        Yes “concerned citizen” you are on BC, but only here to smear at BC and trolling and nothing else, and we all noticed that.

        Reply
  4. Frank K

    @concerned citizen
    Yes, what part of “failed entrapment plan following the plot of “Burn After Reading” is unclear?

    Reply
    • concerned citizen

      I have seen zero proof that there was any entrapment attempt. If you have any such proof, I’d love to see it.

      Reply
  5. Orchard

    Can’t wait to see who turns up tomorrow.

    There seems no point in reading novels now. People seem happy to do ludicrously implausible things in real life.

    You have to have a shred of pity for Wohl though – the kid is 20. Trump may be made of teflon but those who help him definitely aren’t and their loyalty does not seem to be rewarded.

    Reply
  6. Alexander

    Btw, another error present in their “résumés” is that undergraduate programs in europe lasts 3 years, not 4.
    Additionally, the name”Yuliya Karpov” has a female given name but a male family name. This is because it lacks the female -a suffix, like “Yuliya Karpova”.

    Reply

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