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Inside the Mind of a Master Con-Artist: How to Protect Yourself Online (Northeast)


Time:12:00 PM EDT

Duration:75 minutes


Deep within the internet is the Dark Web, a space where criminals can anonymously buy and sell illegal goods and private information. Known as the “Original Internet Godfather,” Brett Johnson created one of the dark web’s first online stores where criminals bought stolen credit cards, Social Security numbers, drugs and guns. After serving seven years in prison, Brett turned his back on criminal enterprise and became a consultant for the Secret Service and the cybersecurity industry.

Want to get a rare look inside the mind of a master con-artist? Join AARP’s Northeast states as Brett Johnson reveals how he became a con man and why he changed his ways. You’ll learn how to protect yourself from cybercriminals and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions alongside people from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.


Brett Johnson

Cybersecurity, Cybercrime and Identity Theft Expert


Called 'The Original Internet Godfather' by the United States Secret Service, Brett Johnson built and ran the first organized cybercrime community - Shadowcrew. Brett Johnson was responsible for refining modern financial cybercrime as we know it today. After being placed on the United States Most Wanted List, captured and convicted of 39 felonies, Brett promptly escaped prison. Captured again, Brett served his time, accepted responsibility, and found redemption through his loved ones and the help of the FBI. Today he is considered a leading authority on internet crime, identity theft, and cybersecurity. Brett speaks and consults across the planet to help protect people and organizations from the type of person he used to be.

Kara Cohen

Manager, Outreach and Volunteer Engagement

AARP Massachusetts

Kara Cohen serves as the community outreach and volunteer engagement manager for AARP Massachusetts and oversees all of AARP’s outreach and education programs and activities across the state with a focus on financial security, health security, and personal fulfillment. Her team supports the work of more than 600 volunteers in the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program and the AARP Driver Safety Program, and deploys volunteers across the state to speak and work on a variety of topics. AARP Massachusetts supports the progress of a growing number of Massachusetts communities joining the AARP and World Health Organization Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities, while supporting the state’s commitment to being an Age-Friendly state. With almost 800,000 members in Massachusetts and 38 million nationwide, AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.

Dennis Hohengasser


AARP Massachusetts

Dennis Hohengassser has been a volunteer with AARP Massachusetts for five years. He has conducted dozens of Fraud Watch Networks sessions across the states. Having been a victim himself, he understands how easy it is to fall victim to scams and fraud. In addition to AARP, the last 3 years he has conducted sessions for the Massachusetts Medicare Senior Patrol on preventing Medicare fraud, waste and abuse and how to become an engaged healthcare consumer. Now retired, he has 33 years in training and staff development for the Commonwealth of Mass.

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