Knobel says he didn’t know
about alleged scam
Developer reached settlement in 1997; telecom company was one of many
December 8, 2005
VAIL — Peter Knobel, developer of the Vail
Crossroads building, said he didn’t know that one of his former
clients was running an alleged Internet scam.
was responding to questions raised by political opponents about his
involvement in the settlement.
Knobel has made most of his money in real estate in New York and in
telecommunications. One of his companies was Beylen Telecom, an
international phone carrier based in the Cayman Islands.
The client that allegedly ran the scam had “audiotext” equipment in
one of Beylen’s facilities in Moldova, a former Soviet republic,
Knobel said. Audiotext provides recorded information to the dialer of
a phone number.
The 1997 FTC complaint said Internet users were instructed to download
an “image viewer” to view adult images. That program then disconnected
users from the Internet without their knowledge, and reconnected them
using phone numbers in Moldova — at rates of more than $2 per minute.
For some users, the connection was maintained until they turned their
computers off, the complaint said.
Knobel said he had no knowledge of the alleged scam before the FTC
investigation made the allegations, and it was promptly shut down
after the complaint was made.
Knobel signed an FTC consent order in 1997 that ordered Beylen Telecom
to pay a portion of almost $800,000 to consumers who were involved in
the alleged scam. A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only
and is not an admission of violation of the law.
Knobel is planning to submit a proposal to redevelop his Crossroads
building in Vail Village later this month. He pulled his proposal off
the table in August after the council voted 4-3 to reject his idea for
the aging complex.
The proposal includes condos; retail space with restaurants, a movie
theater and a bowling alley; and a public plaza.
The Crossroads decision became a big issue in the November Town
Council election. Two council members who voted against his proposal,
Diana Donovan and Dick Cleveland, were voted out of office.
Couldn’t regulate the message
Knobel was a partner at the Related Companies, which develops
high-rise residential real estate throughout Manhattan. In addition,
he was a founder and partner of Gilbert Charles Beylen, a marketing
and sales company for condos in New York.
He also was a founder of National Fiber Network, a fiber optics
company that later became Metromedia Fiber Network, a public company
with a market capitalization of $28 billion at its highest point, he
He grew up in New York and has lived full-time in Vail for five years.
The 1997 complaint says Beylen Telecom provided NiteLine Media and
another company, Internet Girls Inc., with Moldovan phone numbers.
But Knobel said his client, NiteLine Media, ran the alleged scam and
developed David.exe, the program that disconnected users and redialed
Moldova. Knobel said he didn’t know the company was using his Moldova
phone numbers to run the alleged scam.
Beylen Telecom, which hasn’t existed for seven years, owned
international phone numbers used for audiotext, Knobel said, in
addition to its other phone carrier business.
Beylen received a portion of the money the phone company received for
the incoming calls, Knobel said.
Knobel said as a phone carrier he couldn’t legally regulate what type
of recorded message was on the lines.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or