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Manafort Left an Incriminating Paper Trail Because He Couldn't Figure Out How to Convert PDFs to Word Files (slate.com) 189

There are two types of people in this world: those who know how to convert PDFs into Word documents and those who are indicted for money laundering. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is the second kind of person , Slate reports. From the report: Back in October, a grand jury indictment charged Manafort and his business associate Rick Gates with a variety of crimes, including conspiring "to defraud the United States." On Thursday, special counsel Robert Mueller filed a new indictment against the pair, substantially expanding the charges. As one former federal prosecutor told the Washington Post, Manafort and Gates' methods appear to have been "extensive and bold and greedy with a capital 'G,' but ... not all that sophisticated." One new detail from the indictment, however, points to just how unsophisticated Manafort seems to have been. Here's the relevant passage from the indictment. I've bolded the most important bits:

Manafort and Gates made numerous false and fraudulent representations to secure the loans. For example, Manafort provided the bank with doctored [profit and loss statements] for [Davis Manafort Inc.] for both 2015 and 2016, overstating its income by millions of dollars. The doctored 2015 DMI P&L submitted to Lender D was the same false statement previously submitted to Lender C, which overstated DMI's income by more than $4 million. The doctored 2016 DMI P&L was inflated by Manafort by more than $3.5 million. To create the false 2016 P&L, on or about October 21, 2016, Manafort emailed Gates a .pdf version of the real 2016 DMI P&L, which showed a loss of more than $600,000. Gates converted that .pdf into a "Word" document so that it could be edited, which Gates sent back to Manafort. Manafort altered that "Word" document by adding more than $3.5 million in income. He then sent this falsified P&L to Gates and asked that the "Word" document be converted back to a .pdf, which Gates did and returned to Manafort. Manafort then sent the falsified 2016 DMI P&L .pdf to Lender D.
So here's the essence of what went wrong for Manafort and Gates, according to Mueller's investigation: Manafort allegedly wanted to falsify his company's income, but he couldn't figure out how to edit the PDF.
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Manafort Left an Incriminating Paper Trail Because He Couldn't Figure Out How to Convert PDFs to Word Files

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  • by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:44PM (#56178087)
    Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?
    • by scumdamn ( 82357 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:45PM (#56178101)
      The BEST people! The BEST!
    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:46PM (#56178119)

      Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?

      Sure there are: Ben Carson, Rex Tillerson and Ajit Pai. Note, IQ above room temperature does not preclude insanity, apathy or corruption.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @05:36PM (#56178477) Homepage Journal

        To be fair, it seems to me that among all the insanity in the White House, Tillerson is the adult actually *TRYING* to do his job.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Manafort was never in the executive branch, either elected or as an appointee

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?

      Don't you have to have an IQ of around 50 to even be able to stand and walk around or something? I think at room temperature IQ they're not really anything more than moaning blobs unable to do anything.

      Or is it one of those Celsius-Fahrenheit-Kelvin things?

      • 50 Fahrenheit inside is cold, that means you have to put on a sweater to walk around the house. The common recommendation for thermostats is 68F.

        • The common recommendation is to use Centigrade.
          • Celsius?

      • I know it's a flippant comment, but you can find the answer here [paulcooijmans.com]

        Basically anyone with an IQ over about 20 can be taught simple tasks and can probably walk, although possibly not well because there are frequently motor control issues and physical deformities.

    • Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?

      Neither of these two people have worked for the US Executive branch.

      But, according to TFA, Gates would've passed the "Can you convert PDF to MS Word" test, which you consider so vitally important to determining one's intelligence.

    • Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?

      That depends on whether you mean celsius or Fahrenheit.

    • IQ of 80 isn't exactly going to impress.

    • Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?

      Room temp in Kelvin, Fahrenheit, or Celsius? Actually, never mind, no to all three.

    • by recjhl ( 840587 )

      Is there anybody with an IQ above room temperature still working in the US executive branch?

      Are you using Fahrenheit or celsius?

    • by parker9 ( 60593 )

      Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin or Rankine?

    • by MercTech ( 46455 )
      When you move inside the beltway; the gestalt stupidity field installed by our alien overlords automatically lowers 50 IQ points.

      Although I'm being snarky; I fully expect this meme to become featured on 4chan soon.

  • LibreOffice! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:44PM (#56178095)
    Open source could have saved the day for this a-hole. But luckily for the rest of us he's an idiot.
    • Open source could have saved the day for this a-hole. But luckily for the rest of us he's an idiot.

      How often do you think these guys do their own paper work? If it s legitimate, it goes through their clerical staff and all they ever see is a working draft for mark-up or the end product.

  • Sees no "Russians" required.

  • trump can't pay $200 /year for adobe pro?

  • Microsoft Office is to goddamned complimicated to figure out.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:48PM (#56178153) Homepage
    step 1: load your word doc
    step 2: After 30-40 futile attempts to download a converter in windows, finish removing the last of your malware and load your converted
    step 3: realize the PDF was converted from a JPG
    step 4: Spend 3 hours on wikipedia learning about OCR and install Cygwin and related packages
    step 5: feed your PDF based on a JPG into your converted
    step 6: realize this is about as productive as feeding a toddler into a wood chipper
    step 7: Wear out the delete key on your keyboard as you manually parse through your newfound unholy amalgam of character recognition and interplanetary gliphs desperately trying to glean a legible document
    step 8: Brew a cup of coffee and give sincere thought to life in Prison.
    step 9: close the 6 tabs you opened for youtube documentaries that have now given you the endurance to stay awake another 4 hours into the night.
    step 10: voila! you now have justification to litter crucial evidence about your misdoings all over the desktop. Finish a lukewarm litre of gin next to the exaust fan of your laptop and get some well earned rest! DOC to PDF is easy as 123!
    • by msmash ( 4491995 ) Works for Slashdot
      LOL
    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:55PM (#56178197)

      DOC to PDF is easy as 123!

      (one hundred twenty-three steps)

    • Load pdf in Adobe. Convert to or save as doc. If your version of Adobe doesn't have that bust out the credit card and upgrade it.

      Edit resulting word doc. Save as PDF.

      It would be laughable except I do it every friggin day. One of our vendors sends his invoices as jpg's snapped from His phone.

      I convert to PDF save as word, clean up the data, as as shiny PDF before forwarding to idiots I mean AP

      • Worst I ever saw was something that was originally in Word, printed on an inkjet and then faxed to us.

        The problem is that it didn't stop there. Our secretary had the job of keeping digital copies of what the fax received, and she "saved space" by saving the received faxes in medium-quality JPEGs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I just tried this in Adobe and it wouldn't even load the PDF. I was using Adobe Audition 10, do I need 11?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Load pdf in Adobe. Convert to or save as doc. If your version of Adobe doesn't have that bust out the credit card and upgrade it.

        If you're planing to use it to commit fraud to the tune of several million dollars you may as well pirate the software.

        • Load pdf in Adobe. Convert to or save as doc. If your version of Adobe doesn't have that bust out the credit card and upgrade it.

          If you're planing to use it to commit fraud to the tune of several million dollars you may as well pirate the software.

          So, you're suggesting that he should have risked the ire of the IRS *and* the BSA? I mean, one or the other you might be able to fend off, but both?!

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by tomhath ( 637240 )

      Their mistake wasn't using Word/PDF, their mistake was that they left an electronic paper trail by exchanging emails of their fraud.

      Pretty much the same thing that brought down Hillary.

    • Not sure if this beats StarOffice being written in German, thus confusing US computers, but it seems to come close!
    • *dead* Especially the bit about open source OCR.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      step 6: realize this is about as productive as feeding a toddler into a wood chipper

      *turns on recording device*

      Tell me, what experience do you have that makes you say that?

  • Open with -> Word
  • by sehlat ( 180760 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @04:56PM (#56178207)

    At least the toddler-in-chief didn't hire SMART criminals.

    • Alternatively, the smart criminals are using the dumb criminals to absorb all the vitriol, news attention, law enforcement and special council resources.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      Yea. If they were smart they would have run their own email server out of their bathroom.
  • I doubt he needs this skill where he's going.
  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @05:00PM (#56178229) Homepage Journal

    Fear the intelligent evil people. The stupid ones do this kind of stuff.

    Even Ross Ulbricht (Sik Road pioneer and jail bird) got caught in part because he asked about a techy problem on on a techy forum using his own name, while developing the code.

    When I consider how to get away with crimes, the primary thing is working out how to break any link between yourself and your actions and between yourself and the victims. The secondary thing is to leave no trace in your personal effects. My legit job seems like a far better deal though.

    • When I consider how to get away with crimes... My legit job seems like a far better deal though.

      If not for the fact that you are using 'words' and not Twitter, I would have been sure that you were Trump.
    • by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @05:42PM (#56178519)

      I think about this kind of thing anytime I read about a crime committed for profit. I could see it maybe being worth the effort and associated risk if the payoff was never having to work again. But most of the time people are committing crimes over what amounts to paltry sums of money. In 2006 the average bank robbery in the US only got about $4300, and the numbers are even worse for other types of robberies. If I wanted to get any where close to what I'd consider a tolerable living I'd have to rob a bank every month. And even with the FBI only ID'ing 50% of bank robbers the odds of getting caught just aren't worth it by any stretch.

      Even if you got away with a massive haul of money the question then becomes how do you make it useful without getting caught. There is a reason organized crime always gets into money laundering. They end up with so much cash they can't legally explain earning, that they end up spending large parts of it cleaning the cash.

    • >Ross Ulbricht

      You mean the guy they gave immunity to, or the guy they gave immunity to? You forgot the one important thing, none of them ever go to jail.

      And if Hill-dog did nothing wrong (God, we're still talking about it...), why did everyone around her get immunity deals?

      https://www.thedailybeast.com/... [thedailybeast.com]

      http://www.washingtonexaminer.... [washingtonexaminer.com]

      https://www.politico.com/story... [politico.com]

  • FTFA: He then sent this falsified P&L to Gates and asked that the “Word” document be converted back to a .pdf, which Gates did and returned to Manafort.

    His issue is he didn't know how to convert .doc to .pdf.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Asking for a friend

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @05:10PM (#56178321)

    Two possible ways to go here:

    1) Hire teenager, who for dirt cheap has the time to sail the rocky shoals of PDF and DOC standards to do what you want, is way too disorganized for investigators to find anything. Cost: $200 and a few illegal beer runs. Downside: May take several passes to correct grammar.

    2) Hire Russian (to be more specific, Ukrainian) hacker to simply re-work the original PDF Postscript into what you want. When the investigators come knocking do you think they will be able to find the Russian hacker to get original documents? No. Cost: $50k, delivered in ETH please, and dead drops of USB sticks in place of meetings. Downside: All USB sticks you get back will be laden with latest viruses that will track you while you shower.

  • if your in politics or any dirty work. But i wonder if there was such a person, and he did the conversion, would he also be liable in this case, if not the one blamed fully?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That is why you keep two sets of books. One for the tax man, showing a loss. And one for the banks, showing a profit.

    That's why it's called double-entry bookkeeping.

  • There was a lot more, but this is what is being used for charging evidence.

    Oh, and, yes, we still have your cloud data.

  • with the best of the best!

    Translation: I will surround myself with ninnies and nincompoops!!!!

  • It's retaining distinct copies of a document before, and after, adding fraudulent content that trapped the man. Simply discarding previous, fraudulent versions of the document would have cleared the paper trail. Worse for careless criminals: Word documents normally retain some local history of changes on the author's computer, and are far more dangerous in terms of tracking when someone added fraudulent content. PDF is _much_ safer.

    PDF is not as user-familiar, and the better What You See is What You Get edi

  • Manafort altered that "Word" document by adding more than $3.5 million in income. He then sent this falsified P&L to Gates and asked that the "Word" document be converted back to a .pdf, which Gates did and returned to Manafort.

    Manafort didn't know how to turn a word document into a PDF, not the reverse as the headline claims.

    Seriously, don't the editors even read the submissions?

  • Scene: Home office, Manafort look-alike is typing on his computer. "Now how do I alter this spreadsheet? -- Gates will know". Overhead shot lets us see him starting to type an email. Cut to Mueller look-alike in a large office with an FBI logo on the wall. He is giving a high-five to other individuals wearing dark suits and sunglasses. Cut to Putin look-alike, saying "Need to alter a pdf? Get Adobe Acrobat Pro!"
  • Word 2013+ has built-in export PDF (Save As). Word 2016 opens PDF files for editing. Albeit the editing part is not entirely 100%.

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