Last week we broke news of an apparent link between Boris Johnson’s friend Jennifer Arcuri, her controversial Hacker House enterprise, and Lancashire-based convicted criminal and Hampstead hoax pusher Wesley Hall.
While the evidence we presented suggested that Wesley might have been employed as Hacker House’s “Digital Marketing Manager”, it was not conclusive—and commenter “Fake Name 101” pointed out that Wesley might very well have attached himself to Hacker House without Arcuri’s knowledge or consent. The Wesley/Hacker House link was also mentioned on Barthsnotes, where commenter “Annie B Server” reiterated Fake Name 101’s arguments against the claim.
Realising that we might very well have jumped the gun, and not wishing to spread unverified information, we took another look. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.
On 17 June 2016, Wesley Hall posted an article on his LinkedIn page [What?! Wesley has a LinkedIn page? Tie my beak and call me Baldy!—Ed.] in which he claimed that Jennifer Arcuri and Lauri Love, “founders of an innovative new start-up – Hacker House“, had invited him to attend the International Business Festival 2016 in Liverpool.
The rambling article reads like a promo piece for Arcuri, Love, and Hacker House, and Wesley sounds overwhelmed with excitement at having been asked to play with the cool kids. He mentions wanting to “show solidarity” with the company and its aims, but mentions nothing about his own employment status, there or elsewhere.
He does talk about his friendship with Love:
I’ve known Lauri for some time now and wanted to show solidarity with the company as sadly, he’s currently facing extradition to the US for allegedly hacking the FBI/NASA/Federal Reserve/Department Of Energy, participating in the 2013 #OpLastResort protests in support of Aaron Swartz. I genuinely believe that we need to keep this young man here in the UK and utilise his skills to help shape ethical policy here for our future generations. He doesn’t deserve to face a death sentence; torture or life imprisonment for allegedly showing that government system administrators are incompetent.
The above photo of Wesley Hall and Lauri Love, taken two months before the LinkedIn article, appears to bear out Wesley’s claim that he knew Love.
Wesley published several more LinkedIn articles about Hacker House.
By 18 July 2016, in an article titled “Cyber Security Importance & Avoiding Data Breaches“, he had begun referring to himself as
He would repeat this in two subsequent articles:
- “Do you know what your child is doing online this summer?” (20 July 2016);
- “Nearly six million fraud and cyber crimes last year, ONS says” (23 July 2016)
In further LinkedIn articles, published between July and November 2016, he would drop the “Digital Managing Marketer” title, but would continue to refer to Hacker House in the first person plural: “For more information or for a cyber security consultancy from Hacker House, please get in touch with us via email@example.com”.
“Learn practical ethical hacking skills for FREE!”, dated 18 January 2017 would be Wesley’s last LinkedIn article on the topic of Hacker House.
The Twitter connection
While he stopped promoting Hacker House on LinkedIn, from February 2017 on Wesley maintained friendly Twitter relations with the company’s principals, Jennifer Arcuri (@jennifer_arcuri) and her husband, Matthew Hickey (@hackerfantastic).
They began tweeting one another in April 2016—shortly before the first LinkedIn articles began to appear—and have continued since then.
The earliest tweet came from Hickey…
…and was both “liked” and retweeted by Arcuri’s Innotech Network, Arcuri herself, the Hacker House corporate Twitter account, and Wesley.
Wesley, Hickey, and Arcuri have engaged in numerous Twitter conversations since then. Interestingly, Wesley seems to converse more regularly with Hickey than with Arcuri, but Arcuri has posted pictures of Wesley to her Instagram account:
It appears likely that Arcuri and Hickey were aware of Wesley’s claims that he worked for Hacker House. In this tweet, Wesley shared his LinkedIn article, “NHS patients being put ‘at risk’ because of cyber security flaws”:
As with his other Hacker House-related LinkedIn articles, Wesley referred to Hacker House in the first-person plural. The article concluded:
For more information or for a cyber security consultancy from Hacker House, please get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Among those who “liked” and retweeted the tweet: @MyHackerHouse and @HackerFantastic.
It’s unlikely that Hickey would have appreciated any attempt by Wesley to falsely insert himself into the company.
More recently, Wesley leapt to Arcuri’s defence when her relationship with Boris Johnson hit the media. He adopted a buckshot approach, tweeting the same message to a variety of people:
(There were more along these lines, but you get the idea.)
How Wesley would be privy to who made the grant application on behalf of Hacker House is anybody’s guess.
However, it is seeming more and more likely that Wesley was, in fact, employed by Hacker House, at least for a few months in 2016–2017. Whether Hacker House and its principals were aware of, or cared about, his chequered past, is far less clear.