Knobel says he didn’t know about alleged scam
VAIL ” Peter Knobel, developer of the Vail Crossroads building, said he didn’t know that one of his former clients was running an alleged Internet scam.
Knobel was responding to questions raised by political opponents about his involvement in the settlement.
Knobel has made most of his money in real estate in New York and in telecommunications. One of his companies was Beylen Telecom, an international phone carrier based in the Cayman Islands.
The client that allegedly ran the scam had “audiotext” equipment in one of Beylen’s facilities in Moldova, a former Soviet republic, Knobel said. Audiotext provides recorded information to the dialer of a phone number.
The 1997 FTC complaint said Internet users were instructed to download an “image viewer” to view adult images. That program then disconnected users from the Internet without their knowledge, and reconnected them using phone numbers in Moldova ” at rates of more than $2 per minute. For some users, the connection was maintained until they turned their computers off, the complaint said.
Knobel said he had no knowledge of the alleged scam before the FTC investigation made the allegations, and it was promptly shut down after the complaint was made.
Knobel signed an FTC consent order in 1997 that ordered Beylen Telecom to pay a portion of almost $800,000 to consumers who were involved in the alleged scam. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and is not an admission of violation of the law.
Knobel is planning to submit a proposal to redevelop his Crossroads building in Vail Village later this month. He pulled his proposal off the table in August after the council voted 4-3 to reject his idea for the aging complex.
The proposal includes condos; retail space with restaurants, a movie theater and a bowling alley; and a public plaza.
The Crossroads decision became a big issue in the November Town Council election. Two council members who voted against his proposal, Diana Donovan and Dick Cleveland, were voted out of office.
Couldn’t regulate the message
Knobel was a partner at the Related Companies, which develops high-rise residential real estate throughout Manhattan. In addition, he was a founder and partner of Gilbert Charles Beylen, a marketing and sales company for condos in New York.
He also was a founder of National Fiber Network, a fiber optics company that later became Metromedia Fiber Network, a public company with a market capitalization of $28 billion at its highest point, he said.
He grew up in New York and has lived full-time in Vail for five years.
The 1997 complaint says Beylen Telecom provided NiteLine Media and another company, Internet Girls Inc., with Moldovan phone numbers.
But Knobel said his client, NiteLine Media, ran the alleged scam and developed David.exe, the program that disconnected users and redialed Moldova. Knobel said he didn’t know the company was using his Moldova phone numbers to run the alleged scam.
Beylen Telecom, which hasn’t existed for seven years, owned international phone numbers used for audiotext, Knobel said, in addition to its other phone carrier business.
Beylen received a portion of the money the phone company received for the incoming calls, Knobel said.
Knobel said as a phone carrier he couldn’t legally regulate what type of recorded message was on the lines.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or email@example.com.