Scammers Mimic Copyright Troll Shakedowns In Targeting Megaupload Users

from the but-of-course dept

We’ve noted in the past the similarities between mass IP infringement trolling lawsuits and shakedown scams — and have even seen some out-and-out scammers mimic the techniques of copyright trolls. Torrentfreak now reports that some scammers are specifically targeting Megaupload users, pretending to be lawyers demanding payment for infringements on Megaupload. While these are pure scams, given the MPAA’s own statements about possibly suing Megaupload users, combined with the success rate that copyright trolls often have in getting some people to just pay up, it seems likely that a fair number of recipients of such a scam letter are actually falling for it.

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Companies: megaupload

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Comments on “Scammers Mimic Copyright Troll Shakedowns In Targeting Megaupload Users”

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28 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Where do they get the names and addresses associated with the Megaupload Account? They could only be obtained from the Megaupload database or from whatever organization has access to the Megaupload files…ie the hosting company or the US Govt.

Given the hosting company is a Company with a reputation for probity, honesty and ethical business practices it most likely wasn’t them. This only leaves the US Govt which has proven itself unethical and dishonest. But, you know, the US Govt may be cash strapped but this penny ante scheme won’t help them out of the financial shit.

So someone else has access to the data…hmmm the RIAA and the other usual suspects have access to it? Would they raise themselves up from the the dregs aspiring to enter the gutter and extort money from people like this? Naaa! Not enough involved in it for them to participate.

So who, then. Common criminals? Having access to data locked up by the US Govt? The porous US Govt?

Sounds about right.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem with this is simply only people who ever used MegaUpload would respond or have anything to say about it.

I get about 15 messages a week across my accounts telling me I have lost messages on Facebook, my Battlenet account is suspended, The UN wants to give me 21 million for getting scammed, LinkedIn has messages for me, the FBI is investigating me, etc etc etc. They are all scams and I don’t even blink because I never used those services.
I have used Mega in the past to host a file for a community, insert shill attack here, because it was easy and accessible. So a message about Mega to me would at least get opened before I laughed my ass off at the contents.

The trick is not so much being specific in your targeting, but using the right keywords that won’t trip a spam filter, and ring remotely true to a recipient.
If “Nigerian Prince Scams” weren’t working do you think we’d still be getting emails about helping them steal money?
You can spam thousands of people for pennies, if one bites your already in the black.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The tricks are the same that the old “Psychic” scammers use to use. Like you said talk in vague terms until the shill gives you more information and then you expand on the story from there. We call it phishing now but it has been around a long time before the first light bulb.

All scams work on one of two human emotions. Fear or greed.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Where do they get the names and addresses associated with the Megaupload Account?”

They don’t, presumably.

It’s not clear, but the images on the article are referred to as “screenshots”, which presumably means that these are being sent as emails rather than physical letters. In other words, it works like a typical phishing scam – huge numbers of emails are sent to random addresses. Anyone who wasn’t a Megaupload user or has a decent spam filter will just ignore the emails, as would anyone who understands how these scams work. A handful of those contacted would take it seriously, admit guilt (or get scared by threats of future legal action) and pay up.

No corruption or conspiracy involved, just a phishing scam that latches on to a new fear vector to extort money like any other scam. The only thing that makes this notable in comparison to other scams is that it’s exactly what the RIAA have threatened to do, only using a better targeted database. The scam itself is identical.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is one of the reasons why most legitimate legal notices aren’t done through email in the first place. But that begs another question. Why then do some companies (albeit foolish to do so) accept DMCA takedown requests via email? Maybe we need a law that bars any official legal action from being initiated via email.

abc gum says:

When did email become an acceptable means of delivery for legal documents?

Last I heard, said documents had to be sent registered mail (signature required) otherwise there were no grounds for claiming the person was not responding.

Possibly, these litigation threat letters are not considered legal documents. In that case there is no recourse for the sender other than proceeding with a court case when no response is received.

amirite? … btw, ianal

That One Guy (profile) says:

Groovy, I can respond to two morons at once, serious time saver!

In regards to the two AC’s just above me who seem to think that anyone who actually paid must be guilty:

Or perhaps they don’t feel like potentially getting dragged through the court system, and paying thousands in lawyers fees, just to prove their innocence.

Or do laughably clueless people like you honestly think that nobody innocent could ever be the target of a lawsuit/shakedown, and therefor anyone who paid to avoid the much more expensive court battle to prove their innocence was guilty?

wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Mega-upload takedown

If the government can take down Mega-Upload just because some poeple use it for infringement, let’s apply the principle to any legal object that has potential criminal uses.

Let’s outlaw: Claw hammers, chain saws, screwdrivers, wrenches larger than 5/8 inch, rocks, sticks, axes, pickaxes, shovels, crowbars, not to mention guns, crossbows, bows & arrows (murder weapons) telephones (extortion, blackmail, various scams) cell phones (extortion, blackmail, scams, remote bomb detonators) the entire Internet (copyright infringement-Horrors!) cars, trucks, other motor vehicles (transport of drugs, cigarettes, getaway for bank robberies and other criminal activities) …

I could go on and on with this, but my point is, any and every legally useful object and device in the world has some potential criminal use someone can find for it. If we’re going to outlaw everything that has some potential criminal use for it, there won’t be much left. In fact we’ll be just about back to the stone age, only without the sticks and stones (you can kill somebody with them, remember?).

[Sarcasm]

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