Scammers Copying Big Copyright Extortion Tactics

from the learn-from-the-best dept

It really was only a matter of time. For a while now, the entertainment industry has been using borderline extortion tactics with "pre-settlement" letters that promise individuals they won't get sued if only they pay a fee upfront -- ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. These letters have proven to be incredibly effective in getting people to simply pay up, so it's no surprise that other scammers have started copying the technique as well. Right now it sounds like they're simply calling people, but it's really only a matter of time until they start sending nearly identical "pre-settlement" letters on threatening letterhead, and getting folks to pay up as well. Of course, given the extremely flimsy nature of the evidence often used by the entertainment industry in sending out those letters, we'll once again note the very fine line between what these supposedly legitimate companies are doing and the out-and-out scammers are doing.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Rod MacPherson, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 11:31am

    Threatening letterhead?

    That's what I need! more threatening letterhead.
    ....let's see, maybe replace the logo with a skull and crossbones....

    Thank you techdirt!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 11:38am

    For the most sophisticated

    The more sophisticated scam artist could set themselves up as a P2P search engine or whatnot. Attract individuals to download music and movies via their service while logging those requests. Down the road they come up with the contact info for those people (via malware or phishing).

    Voila! Send the "Smiths, Jones, Fredericks and Geshtalt" letterhead listing the tracks that the individual downloaded, demanding payment to quash the case.

    All the tools for this exist. Hmmmm.....

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    koresho, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:06pm

    @mobigeek

    wow... that is scary, what you just outlined would be comparably easy to do...
    /me runs off to implement the plan

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Sierra Night Tide, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:06pm

    Re: For the most sophisticated

    Need a partner?


    Just kidding....kinda...sorta...no no that wouldn't be nice. Could we figure out a way to do this to the Entertainment companies... sort of a musical Robin Hood? :P

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Mikkie Stevens, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:12pm

    Re: For the most sophisticated

    Really nice to see how blasted scary this whole internet thing has become in just a few short years huh?
    I am certainly no expert on any of this techno-geek stuff, but I am not stupid either and all this new threatening people to pay up for using supposedly "free" services is disgusting and immoral in my estimation!

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    JJ, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:18pm

    My Plan

    With the new copyright laws trying to come into Canada I have already set up things.
    Once the Laws comes in I can bulk mail every single Canadian and claim they copyright my work and could pay $100 but if they act quickly I will just charge them $19.95 or they will risk a fully legal action from my team of lawyers. Base on the statistics of stupid people I would get about a 20% return which would be worth millions. It would be gross abuse of the new laws and systems but 100% legal as I just request a small payment or they risk legal action. Nothing in the proposed laws would say I have any proof of such a claim, but if it went to court I would. Nothing says in the law that if I accuse someone of something do I need to pursue it any farther.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Re: For the most sophisticated

    I'm on it now, please sin up to receive your own personal threatening letter. I will only ask for $500, that's not so greedy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    mobiGeek, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:51pm

    Re: Re: For the most sophisticated

    Not until I get my MP3s from your site. Post the URL so I can immediately grab the files ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    D.B. Coupe, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    Textbook publishers have been suing students

    Textbook publishers have been suing students for the last few years. According to one of the publisher's agents settlements run "five figures". So lucky those below:

    www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m04/i25/s02

    http://www.auctionbytes.com/forum/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=6493167&sid=9635dfb349ca789262bfacb2 8f15ff4f).
    and

    http://forum.freeadvice.com/copyrights-trademarks-39/notice-copyright-infringement-377805.html

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Tinman, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Threatening Letters?

    So what you are saying is that I will have even more mail to just throw away..... Since I ignor the comical letter threats I get now, I guess a few more will not hurt. Too bad they are not in e-mail. Then I could send an occasional response to get their hopes up!

    :)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    whitneymcn, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 1:44pm

    All too common in the business world

    About 16 months ago our insurance company paid the bills associated with a trip to the emergency room. About two weeks ago we received a notification that one item had been "reviewed," along with a bill for $50.

    My wife called the insurance company to express her feelings on this and the customer service rep said "oh, you don't have to pay that. They're just sent out because a lot of people will pay without asking any questions. I've removed the charge."

    I'm still trying to decide whether the practice or the honesty was more of a surprise.

     

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  12.  
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    herewecomagain, Sep 5th, 2008 @ 2:49pm

    Wow on textbook publishers

    Reponse to Post 9.

    Its too bad to read that the academic publishing industry is taking the similar route to the recording industry.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Consumerist, Sep 7th, 2008 @ 9:37am

    IT'S ACTUALLY A GOOD IDEA

    Thinking about it, these scams sound like a very good idea to me.

    I mean, let's face it, *EVERYONE* does it as you well know. Therefore, it's good that they feel the pain of their illegal and harmful activities. It doesn't really matter who they pay, as long as they pay - the more heavily the better.

    Also, this process should be much more efficient than the legal hoops that Big Media must go through. And if someone gets hit by a scammer and a legitimate letter? Well so much the better! Remember, you can never pay too much for your illegal activity.

    Think about it carefully people and you will slowly but surely come to realise that I'm absolutely right.

    Thankyou.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    MrBoJingles, Sep 7th, 2008 @ 6:45pm

    Response to Consumerist

    Clearly we know which side of the field you stand on. What you brand as illegal and harmful activities is actually, in some instances, legal and promotes the expansion of intellectual knowledge. We will see a shift from big industry into the smaller man thereby bypassing the large third-party. So they won't have to worry about this sort of thing anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Consumerist, Sep 7th, 2008 @ 8:00pm

    @MrBoJingles
    "Clearly we know which side of the field you stand on."

    Indeed, on the side of right! Thankyou for recognizing this.
    Please be sure to turn yourself in and make your payment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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