Samoa brings it all out in regards to people’s true colours, I tell you! One of the stranger adventures I’ve had in Paradise was with a guy Steve Fawcett who hails from Tauranga, NZ. A self-confessed MK (Missionary Kid) he turned out to be a real character, and a test of mine as well.
I thought that with the passing of time dust would have settled, but not so it seems for the SWAP website database was recently hacked and Steve’s posts have all seemed to (surprise, surprise) have disappeared!
I now feel it appropriate to share the real story of what I would call a self-confessed ‘Christian with attitude’ for as he’s says, he’s passionate about God. He is also somewhat confused . . . and hiding something.
In 2010 I entered into online communications with a guy who was keen on engaging with Samoa, a Steve Fawcett from Tauranga. He was a panelbeater by trade who had been developing a few websites for a few Churches, businesses and had struck upon my work in New Zealand and eventually also Samoa.
To cut a long story short Steve applied to be a SWAP Ambassador, and we encouraged him to join the programme because of his interest, self-promotion and assumedly his strong IT skills. He did this in July 2011 and finally (after two cancellations and almost a year of delays) Steve actually arrived in Paradise.
He lasted less than a week, but a week in which he had already set up his own company here (WOW he was quick); and a business in direct opposition to us (a clear prior motive that one!); resigned from SWAP with ‘no reasons given’ in quite spectacular fashion; wanted to then pretend to the world that he had had nothing to do with us; immediately went to work with the STA (the second person the STA tried to ‘take’ from us BTW); then caused a trail of foul-mouthing of me and the SWAP Foundation and left my wife more upset and hurt through his dishonest conduct than I had ever seen her in some 8 years of marriage at the time.
The original stories from the SWAP website have now been ‘removed from the database’ (more on that shortly) but they can still be seen in the Internet Archives on his appointment:
Steve Fawcett hails from Papamoa in Tauranga, New Zealand and can’t wait to engage with Paradise. Saying, “I’ll help with anything you want, mate!” is a great way to start as a SWAP Ambassador! A positive can-do attitude is definitely needed for enjoying life in Samoa.
Steve is a web developer who over the years has helped many churches and charities with their websites (www.godfuel.org).
He will be working on the SAMOA STORY website, as well as doing video post-production work (using CS5, for the technical people). One of his first projects will be working in partnership with TV3 to develop video documentary series about life in rural Samoa that will be suitable for YouTube as well as for TV viewing.
Welcome to Samoa Steve!
Source: Internet Archives Copy – [Original Source at http://www.swapsamoa.com/2011/07/steve-fawcett-ambassador-18/ has been hacked & deleted]
and on the media conference that we had arranged for him:
Subject: Media Briefing – Steve Fawcett, SWAP Ambassador Arrives in Samoa
Attention: TV1 News, TV3 News, Samoa Observer
Date: 27 July 2011
Interviews are available with Steve Fawcett (SWAP Ambassador) on the afternoon of Thursday 28 July 2011. We will be bringing Steve to Apia in the SWAP limo and film/interview him and Dennis while driving around town for a Thursday night TV3 News article (confirmed) and Samoa Observer or TV1 article if required. Still photos from the airport will be available online at www.samoalimousines.com on the afternoon of Thursday 28 July 2011.
Background: SWAP brings volunteers to Samoa to assist with Internet Marketing. We generate stories (words and pictures) for the Internet using short-term international volunteers (similar to Peace Corp Volunteers), who take photos, write stories, articles and blog posts and then put them on the Internet.
Steve is a web developer from Tauranga, New Zealand who wants to check out Samoa as well as help as he can. He will be working with SWAP and TV3 on the SAMOA STORY website. This will include videos of villages in Samoa. We will also be working with TV3 to document village life as well as tourist attractions and destinations.
Steve will be staying at the new SWAP HQ being developed up by Aleisa, and looks forward to meeting with any one or any village that has a story to tell or that wishes to have SWAP visit. He can be contacted on Ph 777-4444 or at www.swapsamoa.com.
Updates about and from Steve will be posted regularly on the SWAP website: www.swapsamoa.com.
Source: Internet Archives Copy – [Original Source at http://www.swapsamoa.com/2011/07/media-interviews-steve-fawcett/ again hacked & deleted]
And after his departure this latter post was updated with a simple explanation of the fact:
UPDATE (9 September 2010):
Steve has now left the SWAP Foundation. His role as videographer/post-production has been re-advertised.
Steve’s story in his own words:
I left behind the freezing weather in Auckland only to meet two days of rain in Samoa. Hot as … stepped off the plane right by the front door of the terminal.
The Immigration team were quite laid back, although they did hassle me about what SWAP was and who I’d be staying with. Maybe they had looked out the door and seen the white limo and the red carpet that awaited me, and Dennis (looking like a shady drug-dealer I had just met online), and that’s why they asked so many questions!
Man it was hot, driving around in the limo all day. It reminded me so much of Papua-New Guinea, my birth place, but also a bit dirty like Mexico. There were tonnes of coconut trees, pawpaw, and bread fruit.
We went into Samoa’s TV3, and it felt like a time warp – equipment out of date, a feeling of inefficiency, a bit like New Zealand in the seventies. They wanted an interview for the news that night, but as it turned out, their camera was faulty, so we had to repeat it all again the next morning!
In fact the whole country was less advanced than I thought it would be. It is quite primitive with houses without walls (it’s just too hot to be walled in). There are piles of rubbish, up on stands to keep the dogs out, but do they ever collect it? But they all walk around with cellphones in their hands, texting each other furiously.
SWAP Headquarters are still in development up in the cooler climate at 250m above sea level, along the Aleisa Road. Dennis wasn’t joking when he told me prior to coming he was just laying the concrete floor for my bedroom (a lean-to in the bush with a tarpaulin to keep out the rain and a mossie net to keep out the bugs!!!)
I was a bit concerned the first night, when all the forest noises sounded loud and so different to the day. In the early morning the chickens wandered past my bed, and a local dog had obviously visited the rubbish bag that wasn’t up high enough!
Samoa has been an interesting start – I miss my washing machine, shouldn’t have packed my sweatshirts, and should have brought more insect repellent! But, it’s early days, and I am up for the challenge.
Source: Internet Archives Copy – [Original Source at http://www.swapsamoa.com/2011/08/touching-down-in-samoa-2/ again that was hacked & deleted]
Steve struggled from the first moment of his arrival in Paradise and his first day at ‘work’.
When we picked him up in the SWAP stretched limousine, he was shocked! “I never thought that you were for real!” he said when he viewed the stretched limousine and red carpet awaiting him on arrival. Ah, really? Yes Steve, we DID mean what we said! Did you not see the website www.samoalimousines.com and read the stories posted online all about it?
When a misunderstanding arose, identified by the immortal words. “It’s not what I expected!” we asked him what was different to the contract. The even more immortal words, “Oh I never read the contract!” had Debbie and me both totally gobsmacked! The guy came to another country for a two month contract as a volunteer and never even read the detailed contract?! We later found out why this was probably the case – he has a reading/spelling difficulty which we thought was probably dyslexia, but finding out that he had never even read the contract really set the cat amongst the pigeons right at the outset!
Steve made it clear on his first morning of programming that he felt the technology we were using was wrong (actually he simply didn’t know how to programme in MediaWiki, the largest most popular public editing software system in the world and the core of the Wikipedia website!) and he didn’t or couldn’t learn how to set it up to even get started. He found out the hard way that I knew what I was talking about when I sorted a big problem for him in a quick minute or two. He grunted, “Oh, you know more than I do!” and immediately lost interest in the entire project especially compounded when he found out that writing words was a critical component to the job (in the contract of course!) Steve doesn’t write his own words because he can’t – he’s just not wired that way. He takes things from others and stiches them together to make things look pretty and work. It’s a different way of doing things – still valid – but different to the likes of me, who is a natural writer and was programming computers before I was born!
If there’s one thing I do well though, it is to understand things . . . and people. They may not like me, and it might take me a little time but I certainly do ‘get it’ when there are people problems.
Steve spent the first week in town setting up his own company on the side here in Samoa. Like me, he named it the same as his New Zealand operation (Samoa Companies Office: search for Company “Mediastream” or search for Director “Stephen Fawcett”) and while he ‘used us’ quite a bit including our address as the Company Registered Office and Address for Service on the records without our knowledge or permission [Mediastream Company Extract] , he did talk a little bit about his intentions including setting up his compny when we asked him.
I advised Steve as a Christian brother that anything born of sin (sneakiness, using of people and self-interest) can never be blessed, and that it would probably be better to work with us to help him get established here in Samoa THROUGH his work with SWAP, rather than to just USE us and do his own thing and work against us. It mattered naught to him though and he said as much to us. He has now left Samoa and seems to have failed in the corporate race in Paradise. Predictable.
I introduced him to a new client of ours, for he wanted experience meeting and befriending locals. I suggested that he teach her the basics of updating her new website but he recoiled at the suggestion. He preferred another CMS system (Joomla) to WordPress (the one we had used for the client). No matter, at least we tried!
After three days he blew up and let loose with a whole bunch of aggression. His list of my/our sins wasn’t spectacular but it had a lot of venom in it. After listening patiently and getting to the bottom of it all, I explained carefully what and how and why . . . suitably informed and somewhat humbled he said. “Oh! Now I feel really stink!” That’s OK Steve, maybe you didn’t understand a lot of things fully but let’s keep it professional from now on please?
We arranged for the neighbour to do a roast pig umu meal for him and set it up for a series of photos for publication on the website. We paid the neighbour and Steve attended as the honoured guest. Steve knew better than us how to treat the locals and cautiously sought the permission of the little children before he took the photos. As an MK brought up in (I think) PNG he knew it all, or so he thought. When I said to him, it’s OK, you can take the photos, he snapped at me and explained how it’s only respectful to ask. No Steve. We’ve already arranged this my friend! The children do not speak English. They do not understand you. They actually WANT to be and will be proud to be in the photo. We’ve already organised this for you Steve!
After a short week, Steve packed his bags and announced that he was off! No explanation, no reasons. I was OK to just let him walk but Debbie wanted to know why he was going and asked him, more than once, because he didn’t want to say. Eventually he blurted out that, “Dennis is a racist!” to which we parted company, supposedly amicably and then set about resurrecting the SWAP programme without a key member! Debbie clearly had a deep indignation that someone would come into our home and business, ‘use’ us like he did and then acuse her husband of something so hurtful and stupid as racism! I told her to, “just let it go”, as we had with everything else to do with Steve. She tried to, but struggled with this when we found out more and more of what our friend had been up to in the time that he was our guest and supposed to be helping us.
- He had secured work with the STA behind our backs. Wrong and totally unethical!
- He had taken our core ideas and cloned them into his own competing websites. Plagiarism, immoral and greedy!
- He had spoken to multiple people around town in the industry with foul words of serious condemnation. Petty, small thinking gossip is just evil!
- He had gone to the commercial client we had introduced to him, put us and our work down and then sold her his own solution, virtually identical on the same WordPress platform (albeit with a domain name with a spelling mistake in it!) . . . again totally unethical, disloyal and selfish!
- . . . and the thing that really hurt Debbie most at the time was that we found out that he had directly plagiarised Debbie’s written work, taking her actual words, copying and pasting them into his own website and claiming himself to be the author! Very poor form – plagiarsim is simply theft and lying!
Well I tell you in eight years of marriage I had never seen Debbie so deeply affected. Angry before yes, but nothing like this. She’s long over it now but there would have been a few priceless words awaiting Steve if he met her face-to-face then, I can tell you!
We took the body blows. The guy that he ‘cadged’ accommodation from after staying with us was, up until then we thought a good friend – someone we could trust. He isn’t any more and we don’t trust him quite as much any more either. Your real mates don’t help people who screw your mates over. We learned about the extent that loyalty exists in Samoa out of that experience!
I refused to act on anything. I just let the feedback come in and took it all in my stride. “let the guy go, and do what he wants to do!” was my approach. “If he’s more committed and a better salesman and a more worthy practitioner of the trade than me and my team, then he deserves the glory” is always my thinking when people oppose you in business. Just help them and people who appreciate what you do are the ones that matter the most.
Our costs were not inconsequential and the loss of opportunity with his delays in arriving and then not producing anything set us back quite a bit. But you win some and you lose some and Steve’s failure was just one of those things.
STA & The Hacking
A short time after his departure we got an email request from Steve:
can you please remove all posts and mention of my name from Swap Samoa please.
to which I replied:
Happy to talk your request for removal through Steve, but with the TV3 thing it is not as simple as just deleting/removing you. Best to talk about it in person, I think. We’re in town tomorrow if that suits.
The next communication was more demanding and said:
As per previous email requesting removal of posts. dated 29-08-2011
I hereby ask you forthwith to remove all posts you or debbie have posted referring to me, suggesting or directly naming me. These posts must be removed immediately.
Dated 08 – 09- 2011
A copy of this email was sent to the CEO (Sonja Hunter) and Marketing Manager (Dwayne Bentley) of the STA, [Almost certainly meant to be BCC’d not CC’d because it is unlikely that Steve would have wanted me to know that he was doing this in kahoots with the STA, but that’s basically his business].
I replied as professionally as I could but would not hide his involvement with the SWAP Foundation entirely.
We are not sure why Sonja and Dwayne are CC’d to this communication. Why is this? We have not CC’d them this reply, but you are welcome to forward it (or any part of it) to them if you so wish.
As advised to you previously, we are happy to talk through this matter in person, but we will not and neither should we simply “remove posts”. In Tim’s case when he left us and asked for confidentiality, there were some serious security issues relating to Rachel and the children that we felt it was appropriate to remove contactable details.
We have no problem with you wanting to distance yourself from SWAP, but historical facts are facts. You came to Samoa as a SWAP Ambassador, you knew about, agreed to and participated in the creation of the posts. You resigned as an Ambassador clearly “to do your own thing” but your contract is clear, and I quote:
3a. All Video, Photography, Journalism and Blogging created while on assignment with the SWAP Foundation shall be copyright to SWAP and will thus be available for commercial and non-commercial purposes by SWAP.
3b. The Volunteer agrees and accepts that the role as a SWAP Volunteer may be high profile within Samoa which may necessitate the Volunteer to conduct TV, Radio and other media interviews.
3e. The Volunteer agrees to provide regular content such as blog posts, stories, photography and/or other feedback for SWAP marketing purposes
The correct manner to deal with your resignation is to update the posts, or create another post stating that you have resigned, left, or whatever, (with or without a reason stated, it matters not to us). Should you wish to develop a joint communique in this regard, we are also happy to oblige.
Should you wish us to write our own words about your departure, we will simply update the website stating on your profile page (http://www.swapsamoa.com/2011/07/steve-fawcett-ambassador-18/) that your time has now finished with us and the same on the media interviews page (http://www.swapsamoa.com/2011/07/media-interviews-steve-fawcett/).
Again, we make ourselves available to speak in person, our preference.
Dennis A. Smith – www.dennis.co.nz
SWAP Foundation – www.swapsamoa.com
Steve chose instead twice to avoid face-to-face meeting, phone discussion or anything else constructive, instead the posts remained for a while and then mysteriously disappeared.
Hmmmm! The SWAP website had been hacked.
The three posts had been removed from the database. No other damage or malicious actions have occurred and thus the matter has rested. I have left the information removed so people can see for themselves and compare the SWAP website with the Internet Archives. This post will suffice in th emeantime and explain should anyone wish to know the full story.
I actually have no desperate need to be associated with Steve – quite the reverse now actually – but he clearly has a desperate need not to be associated with SWAP. I just don’t want to misrepresent any matter so that people can see the history of SWAP if they want in perpetuity. I will reinstate his missing posts in the future.
There are only three potential holders of passwords capable of accessing the SWAP website database, myself (my notebook NEVER leaves my sight or is under lock and key), the host company (Dreamhost) and Steve Fawcett, who was issued with full access at the time of his contract with SWAP. We did not change the passwords on his departure and it is clear that he has retained this information later used to hack the database of the SWAP website (or has faciliated those actions). No server action is without records, access logs and more snippets of gold, so should the matter ever escalate from here, Steve may have even greater difficulties to face that one blog post from me!
Hacking a server is illegal (a crime) in all three jurisdictions involved here – Samoa, New Zealand and the USA where the server is located. Steve has the knowhow, access and motivation to ‘sort the matter out once and for all’ by removing the appropriate information from the website database himself. That he clearly did this demonstrates to me, and hopefully to the world the true nature of the man – a crook.
Steve Fawcett, you have an attitude, and one that is a disgrace to the Christian community, hence the creation of a blog post sharing with the world who you eally are!
There are some lessons that I think can be learned from my experiences with Steve Fawcett, a Christian with attitude . . .
- Don’t assume things. I assumed that Steve read his contract and knew what he was doing coming to Samoa. He assumed that he knew enough to ‘wing’ it with very limited skillsets and experience. We were both wrong. Of course assumptions are necessary for basic living – we have to assume that the car will start when we turn the key most of the time, and that the sun will up in the morning, but making too many assumptions with out double-checking can cause difficulties if they are wrong. We should also deal with them quickly if/when they are proven wrong.
- I think that it will be a lot harder for people who research Steve Fawcett online and read this information to trust him – either professionally in the IT industry or personally. That is the consequences of immoral, selfish and illegal behaviour for which the responsibility is with him. I will speak honestly and frankly with anyone who wants to engage with me. He’s a man with clearly some pretty deep personal issues, for sure, but he could possibly mend his ways, learn from them and grow up. I know the temptations of business well and regret some of my early decisions in business made when I too was under pressure, BUT in the meantime, people should have the events surrounding his failed role as a SWAP Ambassador, and his unprofessional conduct available to them.
- You can run but you can’t hide. Every time you try to hide evidence you generate more – more questions, more guilt and more proof of whatever it was you were trying to hide from. Steve didn’t want his association with SWAP to be known. I can only guess why this is, but through dishonest business practices and arrogance on his part, not only does the world now know that Steve was a SWAP Ambassador, they also know the real reason why he left, the trail of dishonesty and questionable ethics he left behind in Samoa and some of his professional failures, including his willingness to hack or have websites hacked on his behalf.
- When you have truth on your side, and are therefore in a position of relative power, it is not always necessary to ‘shoot at first sight’. I could have caused a war with Steve from Day One but deliberately chose not to, letting the guy hang himself time after time with a series of actions that proved his true character from his conduct. There is wisdom in the true Fa’a Samoa [the Samoan Way], which is to let things go if you can and keep the peace as much as possible.
- That said, when the time comes for the truth to out, I think it is better to bring it all out on the table and shoot straight, speaking factually but also respectfully. Jesus let them kill Himself, but He never gave an inch. While they crucified Him, He actually chose to give His life, a conscious choice to breathe His last when He could easily have pulled off an act of recovery or vindication to shame the rest. He is a great role model. When we do that it’s like a trap – evil always trips over itself and end up in a noose of its own making, eventually.
Prior to this post’s publication, I invited Steve to respond to set matters right and do the honourable thing or at least to work together so no errors of communication of fact occurred. I emailed him with a detailed summary of my concerns and included a screenshot and a specific claim of hacking:
In essence the post details a string of events surrounding our relationship, with my opinion that many of them were unethical and unwelcome. It also shares details of the recent hacking event showing the three articles that were removed in full.
In invited him to either ignore me or fess-up and enter into good-faith discussions to work the issues through professionally and in a godly manner.
He replied ignoring most of what was said, then picking on one issue (the hacking one) he basically said, “Not me. I’ve been hacked!”
[quoted in full, as received]:
hey ya dennis. in short i was hacked also twice in Samoa and once or twice since back in NZ. including personal sites, businesses and sta sites, some defaced, some posts missing and some completely destroyed.
some of which I recovered, but most of my personal ones i took down after the nasty’s as too much unknown is still infected etc.
what you post is your business. i asked for one or two of ya posts from memory way back to be removed but left it at that.
if your hacked get server people to reinstate backup as I had to. I’m no longer with Samoa and some stuff I can’t say presently.
the thing is that actual servers of mine were hacked not just sites, multiple sites on servers either joomla or wordpress my laptop is backed up in samoa on STA servers. Apart from getting a virus and passwords sent unknowns I have no idea as to how I was breached multiple times, multiple servers and multiple sites.
Steve appears to claim (or at least implies) that:
- that he has no knowledge of how he got hacked – totally unprofessional. The first rule of any security breach is to understand HOW it happened.
- that it has happened more than once to him and his client’s website – again very unprofessional. The second rule of any security breach is that you should close that hole immediately so it doesn’t happen again!
- someone else ‘must’ be to blame for the removal of his information from the SWAP wesbite – yeah right!
- a hacker or series of hackers, has:
- gone into the STA’s servers and found a copy of Steve’s notebook backup – golly that’s clever, blaming someone at STA who has logged in or someone who has hacked the STA. He will surely have informed STA of their continued retention of his data and their own security breach now too, or should I do that for him?
- specifically located the login and password for the SWAP server issued to him when he was at SWAP,
- illegally logged in to one database (only the SWAP database, please note) bypassing eighteen others entirely [!],
- ‘randomly’ happened to strike three records (only) out of 481 records, which coincidentally were the only three records that contained any information about Steve Fawcett [!],
- ‘randomly’ happened to open, edit and then save each of those three records (one by one) in exactly the same manner so that the said information just disappeared, and then . . .
- quietly closed down their hacked connection and leave everything alone never to hack again [!].
Sure, pigs can fly too, Steve!
Somebody is telling porkies somewhere. Either I’m making this all up; the computers are all wrong or Steve is hiding something.
Nothing happens on a server without logs being generated Steve, and there is ALWAYS evidence available to those who know where to look for it. Server logs do not lie – people lie.
I mentioned earlier that I was programming before Steve was born but I had developed hundreds of websites before Steve even opened his first page of code. I ALWAYS do my level best to lift people and help them, however I am always deeply disappointed in people who lie, and cheat and make a disgrace of themselves and by implication if they claim Christ in some way, the Christian community as well.
It takes a lot to get onto my “Hall of Shame” but Steve, today your ‘number’ is on the Internet and you’re busted!
It is my opinion that Steve Fawcett of Tauranga, NZ, panelbeater turned web developer, owner of Mediastream an MK who claims that he loves God is a fraud . . . an amateur, a ‘crook’ and just another proud, arrogant fool.
My advice to potential business partners, customers and people wanting to know reality is to avoid him, or encourage him to do the right thing, for he is clearly on another page from me.