Hacked! Activist claims foreign entities stole his poll

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Brooklyn Paper Radio

A Fort Greene activist rallying against a controversial megadevelopment in his neighborhood says a survey on his website seeking residents’ opinions on the plan suddenly received international attention — and lots of “Yes” votes — from people who shouldn’t care at all about it.

Ben Richardson, who thinks the proposal to construct a skyscraper the size of the Chrylser building on the border of Downtown, Fort Greene, and Boerum Hill is ridiculous, says most voters in the neighborhood seemed to agree with him until nefarious forces from outside the country pushed the votes in a different direction.

“It is possible,” Richardson said when asked if he was, in fact, hacked by the Russians. “We only got 44 votes for a four- or five-month period. But at 4:50 am last Wednesday, votes start happening at the pace of about two per minute.”

That pace continued for about 24 hours, with votes pouring in from the Netherlands, South Africa, and, of course, Romania.

Believing he had been hacked, Richardson took down the poll — not because it wasn’t going his way, he said, but out of fear that an international incident had taken place.

The plot thickened days later when a pro-development website called him out online for taking the poll down, leading him to surmise that maybe, just maybe, that website had something to do with the hack.

Did it? Well, we can’t tell you the answer right now, but you can hear his side of the story by listening to Brooklyn Paper Radio. We assure you your time will not be wasted.

Brooklyn Paper Radio is recorded and podcast live every Tuesday at 2 pm — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on, on iTunes, and of course, on Stitcher.

Updated 10:08 am, April 26, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Hey Ben Richardson (board member of the tallest luxury building in the area which would now face competition), um; That isn't what "hacking" is. OK old people? You have to be really dumb to think a Boaty McBoatface surge (even if obviously paid -for) is "hacking"... ooo did they they all have hoodies on and vote in the dark so you couldn't see their face? Like all those "hackers" do?
April 26, 2018, 6:01 am
Vince DiMiceli (Brooklyn Paper) says:
Splitting hairs there, Jim. Ben thinks someone wrote a program that automated the voting, not come up with a funny name that went virile and resulted in lots of people actually voted for it, as in the case of the RSS Boaty McBoatface. I'd say its safe to consider the creation of any malicious software a form of hacking, even if it doesn't take over your personal computer. Hope you enjoyed the show.
April 26, 2018, 7:02 am
Open New York from Downtown Brooklyn (NOT Boreum Hill) says:
We organized our supporters to vote in Mr Richardson's poll and publicly called out his twitter account, so it's interesting that he didn't mention us in the interview. For the record, we tweeted out a link to the poll and encouraged our supporters to vote at 12:31pm on Wednesday 4/19/2018 and then made a similar post on Facebook shortly thereafter, so his claims about these votes happening in the dead of night from foreign bots is completely ridiculous . In fact, as we saw that our supporters had reversed the outcome of the poll, we speculated that the proprietor of the poll would take it down once they noticed they'd been exposed as unrepresentative of the community Our supporters are very real and we'd be happy to make some of them available for interviews to refute this scurrilous accusation.
April 26, 2018, 10:32 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Bots are not "hacking." That's what I can't stand about the "close enough" mentality. If you show up prepared for a NASCAR race and then find out it's F1 but it's just "splitting hairs" because it's all "auto sport" right...? Never mind that you completely screwed yourself. 5 minutes adding settings on the most basic of protector tools can stop voting from sources outside the USA.
April 26, 2018, Noon
Who is developer ALLOY kidding? from Downtown Brklyn land grab says:
One can draw their own conclusion...when the developer & the ECF have to spend close to $700,000 for lobbyists to target the BP and to target Council Members Levin & target the incestuous wing of the Mayor-the Dept of City Planning in order to push this monstrous and thoughtless project cannot dismiss any extreme that this REBNY developer would go to.

No one needs rely on 'foreign agents' to put their thumbs on the scale...we have predatory & self-serving greed in our own backyard. Disingenuous hypocrisy pontificating about their alleged 'good works' as Ally and its brethren developers dismantle communities with out-of-scale non-contextual schemes.

Hey BDB...give away less money and $1 HPD lots to the developer pals of yours and I'll bet you come up with real money for schools and for libraries...never mind real affordable housing-not the scam you profess helps the underserved!
April 26, 2018, 3:10 pm
Lucy from Fort Greene says:
So glad to learn that people from The Netherlands, South Africa, and Romania are from the neighborhood. The neighborhood is Boerum Hill not Downtown Brooklyn.

This is why these polls are not helpful.
April 26, 2018, 3:39 pm
Siri from Cobble Hill says:
Let "Open NY from Downtown Brooklyn Not Boerum Hill" get all your supporters to come testify at Borough Hall on Monday. That would prove you're actual people.
April 26, 2018, 5:03 pm
Mark from Brooklyn Heights says:
Siri, boy, are you in for a surprise... see you Monday!
April 26, 2018, 6:01 pm
Gavin from Ft Greene says:
It's interesting to see a group of co.fortable whites rallying around a profit-forward developer. Fascinating to have them here in uber lib Brooklyn. Will a couple hundred show up to testify? Mark says so. Where we they in March?
April 27, 2018, 12:24 am
Siri from Cobble Hill says:
500+ showed up to the March 28 CB2 land use hearing. A couple hundred were locked out, didn't get to testify. Most of those who did get to testify were against the project. Mark from BK Hgts are you suggesting that your people were the ones closed out because your gigantic forces weren't in evidence.
April 27, 2018, 4:58 pm

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