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On 2nd November 2005, Victor Martinez, the moderator of a UFOlogy-related electronic mailing list, posted an email from an anonymous source claiming to be a retired official of the US government. The information referred to a top secret exchange program of twelve US military personnel to planet "Serpo", a planet in the Zeta Reticuli star system, between the years 1965-78.
More messages soon followed and so did a website, all promoting the same general idea; that of ET contact and an extended stay on an alien planet.
The facts however paint a rather different picture to the fantastical "Exchange Program" outlined above. The majority of the information regarding the Serpo Project has either passed through or is directly from Richard Doty, a person well-known in the field of UFOlogy. Furthermore, some of the names brought out to lend support to the story, in particular Paul McGovern, are in reality also none other than Richard Doty. Read on for the real story behind Project Serpo.
The information contained in these pages came to light thanks to a lengthy and painstaking investigation carried out for the most part by RU's Stephen Broadbent and Ryan Dube (known on the forums as Zep Tepi and Ryguy respectively), along with former RU staff member and current forum member Shawnna Connolly. Former ATS and RU member Wayne Jaeschke (Centrist) played a large part in the initial phase of the investigation, but his participation ended in early 2006.
The actual investigation comprised of three distinct elements; the so-called "Fake Anonymous" episode, Operation "Tacitus", and continued & direct contact with the individuals involved behind the scenes of the Serpo story.
If you want to be entertained, go to the "official" Serpo website. If you want the truth, you are in the right place.
All of the information presented to Victor Martinez and Bill Ryan by "Request Anonymous" came in fact from Richard C. Doty. Martinez may have suspected Doty's involvement, but Bill Ryan knew from the very start that he was getting the Serpo material directly from the former AFOSI security guard. Doty has continuously denied having any involvement in the story, despite the mountains of evidence to the contrary. In addition to Doty, Martinez and Ryan, the behind the scenes "Team of Five" who collaborated extensively on the project is completed by Dr. Christopher "Kit" Green - a former analyst with the CIA, and physicist Dr. Harold (Hal) E. Puthoff.
The material to follow will show that Serpo was not a lone-gunman operation, but a collaboration between three friends, who between them already had many years experience of scamming the UFO community. This investigation, told in full for the first time, is the precursor to our main report into the Imaginary Intelligence Agency, a group also known under the name Scammers Inc.
We first became aware of the Serpo story at the AboveTopSecret website back in December 2005. The story itself was already a month old when the user "Centrist" (Wayne Jaeschke) initiated what was to become the longest thread in ATS history (now surpassed) by posting the exchange program details given to Victor Martinez by our friend "Request Anonymous". As discussions progressed, Shawnna Connolly organised a huge collation effort in an attempt to summarise the posts made up to that point, which were branching off in all directions and making it difficult for the new readers to follow. Ryan Dube (Ryguy) and I (Stephen Broadbent - Zep Tepi) assisted Shawnna in this huge undertaking, along with Centrist and some other ATS members. As a result of this collaboration, the four of us would "meet" regularly online and discuss where we were at with the task, and the Serpo story in general.
By this time, Bill Ryan was a member of the ATS forum and was posting regularly in response to the many questions coming his way. I had already had discussions with Bill, first via email then regularly on the telephone, discussing the finer points of the Serpo story and UFOlogy on the whole. Not long after my first contact with Bill, he posted the following message at ATS in response to a question raised by the member "sdrumrunner" regarding the website logs:
Many thanks. I don't have the resources or experience to evaluate the weblog. I welcome support from anyone on this forum who could help (might be a big task). I can give you password access to the control panel and then you could help yourself... if anyone would like to do that, please send me a U2U or contact me on the website contact form. I'd love to know who's been visiting the site.
Eager to find out who had been visiting the site, I offered my services to Bill and he accepted, sending me the login details in return. I spent some time poring through the logs, the results of which can be found here and elsewhere on the thread. In giving me the control panel password for the serpo website, Bill had effectively given me complete control of the server. I told Bill it was a very naive thing for him to do and that he should change the password as soon as possible. I realised the opportunity presented to me by having access to the server was a huge one, but at the time I decided Bill needed to know the risks and to also ensure he didn't freely hand out the password to others as quickly as he did to me.
Bill and I talked often in those early days, with discussions ranging from the Serpo tale through to the technicalities of the website. Not being technically minded himself, Bill seemed happy to have someone to whom he could turn to in case of problems or advice with the serpo site (at a later date, I initiated a move of the site to a more reliable and faster host, a move which coincided with a major update of the presentation of the material). It was during the course of one of those discussions that Bill mentioned a minor problem with the email contact form on the site and asked me if I would take a look. I had a quick look and noticed there was a minor error in the html code, which I corrected. It was while checking this that I realised the password for the "email@example.com" email account was the same password as that for the control panel. I configured a temporary account on my email client in order to check the mailbox automatically, being careful to select the "Leave a copy of the messages on the server" option so Bill wouldn't miss anything, and sent a few test emails. The emails were received successfully, so, satisfied that the account was configured correctly, I told Bill and we resumed our talk about the details of the story.
Naturally, I tried to find out as much as I could about Request Anonymous, but Bill was anxious not to reveal too much. He did reveal however that Victor still had a copy of the original email on his WebTV system, a detail Victor had also told Wayne via email. Getting access to that original email was our number one priority. If we could get our hands on that, we would have access to the real name as used by Anon, along with, more importantly, the email headers. Not long after our first talk (18th January 2006), Bill sent me a word document entitled "Research Projects". The document was something Bill had put together with a list of things he needed answers to and I had agreed to help him with it.
Point Nr. 3 on the list of items was the following:
3) There are several e-mails I'd like to trace - meaning, the names of the account holders. I have no idea if this is legally possible or not. Clearly and really importantly, I DO NOT want to risk alerting the people concerned that they're being checked. Here's the list:
Given the nature of our discussions, I felt pretty confident that Request Anonymous was one of the four email addresses he wanted to trace. This confidence would be repaid in spectacular fashion only a few short weeks later.
The day after helping Bill with the contact form, I loaded up my email client and went over to ATS while my emails were being downloaded. After catching up on the latest posts at ATS, I switched over to my emails and was initially puzzled by what I saw. Instead of seeing the emails from my RU account, there were a bunch of emails that had been sent to the firstname.lastname@example.org email account - I had forgotten to change the default settings back to my own. Surprisingly, there were a couple of emails that had been sent to Bill by Kit Green and Victor Martinez, both of which were discussing some of the finer points of the Serpo story. I had already told Bill about changing the password, but given the anticipated intelligence value of seeing further "insider" emails sent to the same account, I decided against reminding him.
All Your Base Are Belong To Us
On the 6th February 2006, with Request Anonymous having switched allegiance from Victor Martinez to Bill Ryan nearly two weeks previously, an email was delivered to the serpo contact email account that changed everything. Victor had tried to email Bill using his private Virgin account, but the message was returned undelivered, prompting Victor to resend it to the contact address. The top level email was the non-delivery report, entitled "Bill: your e-mail bounced!" along with a couple of attachments. The first attachment was an email from Bill to Victor and was in response to a number of discussions that were taking place about the switch mentioned at the top of this paragraph.
Bill to Victor:
This is a very important but enigmatic message for which I personally apologize (because I prefer to be straight, but in this instance cannot).
1) Continue to trust me fully. I know exactly what I'm doing and why.
2) You'll know what this feels like, but there are some things I cannot discuss - including the reasons for being unable to discuss them.
3) PUT DOWN the IP address issue, PLEASE DO NOT respond to questions from anyone, and DOWNPLAY it all. Find a way to RETRACT (if pushed into a corner) your suggestion that Hal is an independent arbiter of a comparison. I know that may not be comletely simple to do, but is important.
I absolutely understand you've been trying to do the right thing and always have done. I've always publicly defended your integrity and will continue to do so. But it's very important this issue is not under scrutiny and it's all a little dangerous right now because of certain factors.
There's an extremely good reason for this... which will come out in the wash later, and then you'll understand and agree.
Will you support me on this? I'd be reassured if you could give me affirmation.
With best wishes as always - Bill
Victor's response to the above was in the second attachment and has come to be known, by me at least, as the "golden egg" email.
1) This is what's got everyone up in arms: the IP issue. I think what people want to know is NOT whether your ANONYMOUS is legitimate or not, BUT rather if there was a "changing of the guard" so to speak on or about 12-19/20-05?
2) The ONLY thing I strongly disagreed with you on/about was "breaking confidentiality" by just the two (2) of us comparing notes (so to speak). HOW could you "break" his confidentiality IF we were dealing with the SAME ANONYMOUS?! THINK about it, Bill!
See what I mean? It MIGHT be another person altogether writing to you from that "Wizard" address, but NOT the same one I was dealing with, see what I mean?
3) When I got that journal posting from him on 12-19/20, it didn't even "feel" like the same guy I had been dealing with.
Not only did he go into a tizzy about my reformatting his text to make it more readable -- though I still left six misspellings in -- but he sent it to me in a MS-WORD attachment when I told him MANY TIMES that my Web TV wouldn't let me open it. That was the FIRST time -- and only obviously -- that he did that strongly suggesting that your ANONYMOUS and my "original" ANONYMOUS are different people altogether and his telling you that they're the same person means NOTHING!
4) Comparing IPs would go a long way to resolving this issue. Hal P. can be trusted 110% to NEVER divulge that you shared your IPs with him, so I'm puzzled there. I strongly urge you to REconsider so that -- together -- we could make a public statement that WE are dealing with the same ANONYMOUS else I can't say that publicly only to have it blow up in my face down the road.
BILL: It's NOT me "bringing up" the IP issue,...it's EVERYone else refusing to put it down! Your friend Wayne J is a perfect example: He was SHOCKED that we had never compared IPs,... and can anyone blame him?
5) HOW do you KNOW 100% that "Sylvester McCoglin" just isn't someone else using the SAME name?! How do you KNOW that you and I are dealing with the same person?! Or do you not know yourself?
6) A LOT of people are UNeasy about this and I'm spending more and more time defending you which I always thought from the get-go would be just the OPPOSITE: you would be defending ME!
7) Lastly, did whoever you're dealing with EVER say WHY I was replaced?
Did it just make more sense to them to cut out the "middleman" and go right to the guy with the Web site? TRUST ME: You're NOT going to hurt my feelings with something that might be all FANTASY,.. this isn't real life, Bill! -
My first reaction after reading the above is one I will never forget. I was bursting to tell the team that we had just been handed the one thing that we craved - the identity of Request Anonymous - and I was literally shaking with the excitement of it all.
The "Wizard address" was clearly "email@example.com", as sent to me by Bill in the "Research Projects" email highlighted above. In addition to the actual email address, we also now had Anon's name; "Sylvester McCoglin". Request Anonymous had just become a lot less so.
Incidentally, both Wayne and I noticed the same thing at almost the exact same time. The name Sylvester McCoglin is certainly unusual and quite obviously a pseudoynm. As we all know, "Sylvester" is the name of a famous cartoon cat. Another name for a cat is "Kitty", or "Kit" for short (One of my own cats is actually called Kit!). The surname, "McCoglin" appears to be a name of Irish or Scottish descent. Whenever I think of Ireland, I automatically think of it as the "Green Isle". Isn't that an interesting turn up for the books? By playing simple word games, you can go from Sylvester McCoglin to Kit Green in just two simple steps. I pointed out this interesting tidbit to Dr. Green on a couple of occasions, bearing in mind his association with the Serpo story. While Dr. Green has been more than forthcoming on the many occasions we have been in contact, I don't remember him ever making comment in this particular instance. Of course, this isn't evidence of anything, just one of those interesting little asides.
So, we had the original email address and the name, all we needed now was a copy of the original email.
Author: Stephen Broadbent, 8th July 2008
Coming next, Part Two - The Fake Anonymous Episode
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