LowEndBox - Cheap VPS, Hosting and Dedicated Server Deals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Johnny Nguyen (GreenValueHost) Interview!

Tags: , , , , Date/Time: May 16, 2022 @ 12:00 am, by raindog308

GreenValueHostIf you’d like some background on today’s interview, consult yesterday’s post.


First, thanks for doing the interview!  There were a lot of skeptical questions about your motivations, so let’s start there.  Why did you agree to do an interview?

While in prison, I spent almost a month in solitary confinement in a secure psychiatric unit. I had a lot of time to think and reflect on the past. I came to an epiphany there that in order to truly learn from my past and prevent making the same mistakes again in the future, I must continue to revisit everything that led up to where I am today. I agreed to do this interview because it is an opportunity for me to reflect and remind myself of what I did wrong.

You were convicted of fraud and the press release says you bought PII and used it to buy gift cards and other fungible digital assets and then converted them to cash.  How did that get started?

I was able to find vulnerabilities in the fraud detection algorithms of several major anti-fraud detection companies and used them to make fraudulent transactions using stolen information.

When I see these true crime documentaries on YouTube, it always starts small and eventually gets out of hand.  What did your arc look like?

I was severely depressed and was looking for a way out. Instead of seeking professional help, I victimized others to pay for things like being able to travel, bringing girls out on expensive dates, and putting on the guise of success to artificially bolster my low self-esteem. I think the high point of my arc was when I was able to take out girls who were way out of my league, who never would have paid any attention to me if I didn’t have money. After I lost all of it, I realized that I was not only cheating the people that I stole from, but I cheated myself, too.

Much of this operation seems difficult to trace, as long as it’s a closed cryptocurrency loop.  But I imagine to scale it up, you need customers who want to pay in fiat currency.  Was your key mistake at the crypto/fiat conversion point?  Or what?

My key mistake was getting involved in criminal activity in the first place. I had a clean criminal record, a bright future, and family and friends who believed in me. I threw all of that away for money, not realizing that those things are priceless.

The press release refers to “and others involved” – did you rat?

I did not testify against anyone in my case. The “others involved” are unfortunately located in other countries. It is my belief that one day everyone involved in these sorts of schemes will face their own justice, one way or another.

I did, however, provide the remaining PII and exploit information that I had, allowing the government to notify banks and the companies involved. This was the right thing to do.

How did the arrest go down?  Were you binging Netflix at home when the goon squad broke down the door?

The authorities involved reached out to my lawyers to arrange a time for me to self-surrender and sign paperwork. I was not held in custody until the day I self-surrendered to prison.

How was prison?  There were quite a few questions on this.  Public perceptions of prison range from a degrading torture house of non-stop sodomy and drug abuse to “Club Fed” were prisoners are coddled and lift weights all day.  What was your experience like?

I spent a month in solitary confinement before being moved to a minimum-security facility. I was fortunate to have never encountered any violence from any other inmates. Federal prisons offer many rehabilitative programs that help inmates gain skills that will help them when they re-enter society, such as the service dog training program, culinary arts program, and automotive program. I am grateful to the administration for affording me the opportunity to learn valuable skills in the kitchen.

So when you get out, is it like the opening of the Blues Brothers where they just dump you at the gate outside, or does the prison system try to come up with some plan for you so you don’t reoffend?

After 7 months, I was relocated to a halfway house for a period of 3 months where they helped me find a job working in a restaurant. After I was released from the halfway house, they helped me with mental health counseling and I see a counselor on a regular basis now. I took the skills that I learned in prison while working in the kitchen to start a new career working as a cook in a nice restaurant .. making everything from scratch!

I am a full-time college student during the day and then go to work at night to help pay for my expenses and for school. I am grateful to be paid a living wage, now being independent of my parents and living in my own apartment.

Let’s go back to the beginning.  You were born and raised in New Hampshire – ?  Are you from an immigrant family or was your family already established here when you came along?

I was born in the US and raised in NH. My family are Vietnam War refugees and fled Saigon as the war was ending, coming to America with nothing but clothes on their backs. They worked hard to get where they are today, and I am ashamed to have disgraced my family with my poor decisions. They did not go through all of their pain, suffering, and sacrifice for me to be a disappointment. I am determined to make this up to them, and I will.

Did you graduate high school?

What exactly happened with high school – wasn’t there a case where you hacked in to change your grades?  And a swatting?

Yes, I did graduate high school. I did not hack into my school to change grades and there was no swatting involved. There was a case where I committed disorderly conduct against my school’s network, and the case was amended to a civil violation instead of a criminal case.

The first anyone here heard of you was the birth of GreenValueHosting.  Why did you get into hosting?

I was bullied and didn’t have any friends in school, so I spent all of my time on the Internet. I actually got into web hosting after I taught myself how to build and host websites for “clans” on an online game called RuneScape. I hosted websites for RuneScape clans and later turned that into a service called “PowerClans”, which later turned into GreenValueHost. It was something that really interested me, so one thing became another and soon enough, I was running a hosting company at 13 years old.

As I recall you got some funding from your parents and birthed the GVH brand, there was mad chaos for about 18 months, and then it blew up and Xfuse bought it.  How do you look back on GVH?

I never got any funding from my parents for the brand. Lance invested the initial $300 that got us running from a reseller account with EZPZ Hosting. GVH was a spectacular failure, but as I look back on it, there are a lot of lessons that I can take from it. Knowing what I know now, I would have done things a lot differently.

Was GVH ever designed to be an ongoing money-making enterprise, or was the plan all along to sell a lot of dedis and VMs on long prepaid deals and then bail?

I thought we were going to become the next OVH or the next Softlayer. I was very inexperienced in business and had no idea what I was doing. And I was very immature. I realized that there was a problem, but didn’t have the skills, knowledge, or maturity to fix it, and instead was just compounding the problem year after year.

What were the key mistakes you made with GVH?

Greed. Thinking that I was a big shot when I wasn’t. Not listening to people who knew better. Talking down and belittling people and my customers, and not planning enough for long term sustainability. Coming up with ridiculous offers to feed my need for attention. Growing the company artificially to make me feel more like the big shot CEO that I was pretending to be. The list goes on and on.

Lance – man or myth?

Lance was real. I met him on RuneScape and he was in one of my clans at the time when I founded PowerClans to host clan websites.

So in the GVH era, what was your relationship with ColoCrossing?

ColoCrossing was our upstream and occasionally offered some advice that I did not follow. We were helped out here and there with special deals and payment arrangements, but it was nothing out of the ordinary that you would expect from a relationship between an upstream provider and a high-paying client who had hundreds of servers.

Once GVH flamed out, I seem to recall you being involved in another short-lived enterprise.  What happened after GVH?

I attempted to start an ISP, which spectacularly failed.

So you’re 23 now.  You still have your entire work life in front of you, and now you’ve got a pretty big handicap with a felony record and no college education, plus a big restitution tab.  Where do you go from here?

I am going to college locally and am expected to graduate with a Bachelors’ degree in Cybersecurity next year. My inspiration is Kevin Mitnick, who spent years in prison for hacking crimes and later found success in creating his own cybersecurity consulting company. I’m working to one day soon find my own success in the enterprise security market and become a professional pentester for large companies. I hope that one day I can use my talents and passion for technology to make the Internet a better place for all, and give back to the society for what I’ve done.

As someone who was in the industry, how do you look at the hosting market today?

I think it’s unrecognizable from when I was last in the industry.

I have to ask: GVH 2.0?  Is Jonny Nguyen going to reenter the hosting market?

No.

Your favorite anime?  There were far stranger questions.

I do not watch anime.

Where do you hang out online these days?

I don’t really have much time to spend in online communities these days, unfortunately.

Anything else you’d like to say to the LowEnd community, @organicallyblue?

For those that were hurt by GVH and my past actions, from the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry. I have learned a lot through all of this, but I regret that it was at the expense of many others in my past. I hope that one day I can make it up to everyone, and I have a feeling that I will. One way or another.

2 Comments

  1. Jhay:

    “for immediate release…”
    What a blast from the past!
    My GVH experience and lost funds say “glad he went to jail”, even if it was for other fraud! – so much for my mean streak.
    On the other hand, it is good to hear that JN is back out and has plans for his future. May he succeed, and perhaps we will see him back here with an unbelievable offer… JUST KIDDING!
    ;-)

    May 17, 2022 @ 3:14 pm | Reply
  2. I hope so too

    May 18, 2022 @ 4:40 am | Reply

Leave a Reply

Some notes on commenting on LowEndBox:

  • Do not use LowEndBox for support issues. Go to your hosting provider and issue a ticket there. Coming here saying "my VPS is down, what do I do?!" will only have your comments removed.
  • Akismet is used for spam detection. Some comments may be held temporarily for manual approval.
  • Use <pre>...</pre> to quote the output from your terminal/console, or consider using a pastebin service.

Your email address will not be published.