Pure Scamming Copyright Troll Implies It's A Gov't Agency And That You Will Face Jail Time If You Don't Pay Up

from the wow dept

We’ve seen some pretty brazen copyright trolling efforts lately, but this latest one may be the most extreme. FightCopyrightTrolls has the story of the “Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency,” which has some features like a normal copyright troll, and some that go way, way beyond trolling to out and out fraud. I will note, however, that as I was writing this article, it appears that whoever is behind this bit of fraud has apparently decided to run away. The ICLEA website now states:

Important Notice

Effective immediately, the Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency has ceased operations. Please disregard any notices you received from us, and please do not send us any payments.

Here’s what the website looks like as I type this:

And here’s what it looked like a few hours ago:
But, let’s explore just a bit of what they were doing before FCT exposed them. First off, by both the name and the terminology they clearly were implying to people that they were a government agency rather than a private company. The name itself — incorporating both “law enforcement” and “agency” implied as much. They used a seal that one might incorrectly interpret to be a law enforcement shield. They also were using a virtual office space based in Washington DC, not far from many federal buildings. Originally, their website claimed that they were

… an international organization that helps to enforce copyright laws on the internet worldwide by informing potential copyright law violators regarding the serious possible criminal and/or civil liability they may face, and providing them with an opportunity to help them comply with copyright laws.

In the letters they sent out, they went even further, claiming:

We work with law enforcement agencies and strategic partners around the world to enforce copyright laws, and to help prosecute individuals and companies who violate these laws.

Also, the letter repeatedly suggests that individuals may face criminal charges for merely downloading a song. The letter (which we’ve reproduced below) does correctly call out the section of copyright law that highlights criminal penalties, but conveniently leaves out the part that defines what qualifies for criminal enforcement. Oh, and the fact that a private bogus company pretending to be a government agency can’t bring criminal charges.

Like all trolls, they demand payment to “avoid further action from being taken against you.” From a quick search online, it appears that a bunch of people started receiving these letters in the last week or so, with varying amounts being demanded (generally between $300 and $500, it appears), and with payment being required by March 1st. One hopes that no one actually paid up, though it’s likely that some did.

Again, the full letter is below, and even with the company claiming that it has now “ceased operations,” some questions remain. It’s not at all clear who was behind this. The letters come from a “David Walsh,” though it’s anybody’s guess as to the person’s real name. The office, again, was a virtual office, so the person behind this could be anywhere. What’s not clear is how they got the information about specific downloads which it could use to accuse people. There are a few different theories floating around, but until there’s more proof one way or the other, it remains pure speculation.

Either way, it seems pretty clear that this has gone beyond your everyday copyright troll. While they often go pretty close to the line of “extortion,” they can at least claim some marginal legitimacy by actually representing copyright holders. With the ICLEA, that doesn’t appear to be true at all. They’re misrepresenting who they are, and demanding cash to avoid possible incarceration (which they can’t do). It seems like that likely violates all sorts of laws having to do with fraud and extortion. So, whoever is behind this, while they may have chosen to misrepresent criminal copyright law, they might want to spend some time familiarizing themselves with criminal law in other contexts.

Of course, while the DOJ and ICE keep claiming that they’re so focused on “criminal” copyright issues these days, one wonders if they’ll spend any time or effort to go after the folks behind this actual scam. Or, do they only go after sites that Hollywood doesn’t like?

Either way, we’ve posted the text of one of the letters below to show just how over the top the claims were.

Re: Illegal Internet activity resulting in potential criminal and/or civil charges Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency v. John Doe
Case ID 12345 Confirmation 67890

If this matter is not settled by Friday, March 1, 2013, you may lace potential felony criminal and/or civil charges filed against you. If you are arrested for felony criminal copyright infringement you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and held in jail until you are arraigned in court.

Dear Mr. Doe,

My name is David Walsh and I am a Senior Copyright Law Enforcement Officer with the Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency, an international organization that has been charged with enforcing copyright laws on the Internet worldwide. We work with law enforcement agencies and strategic partners around the world to enforce copyright laws, and to help prosecute individuals and companies who violate these laws.

We have identified illegal Internet activity involving copyright crime occurring by either you, or someone in your household such as a spouse, child, or roommate. Under the United States No Electronic Theft (NET) Act, penalties for willfully infringing copyright law can include a felony criminal conviction that can result in imprisonment, and/or fines of up to several million dollars:

17 U.S.C.?506(a). Penalties for criminal infringement, set forth in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, are a felony conviction entailing up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $250,000. In addition to a criminal conviction and fine, copyright holders can also file a civil court case against the copyright infringer. 17 U.S.C. ? 504(c)(2). In a civil case where the court finds that infringement was committed willfully, the court can award statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringement.

The copyrighted materials outlined below in the Evidence section of this notice are a small sample of the materials that have been illegally downloaded and shared through your Internet account. As the Internet Service Provider (ISP) account holder, you are legally liable for what occurs over your Internet connection. Evidence collected against you includes the correlation of your IP (Internet Provider) address listed in this notice at the time that the copyright crime we identified was committed.

Evidence: Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency v. John Doe

File Name: Equinox (Skrillex).mp3
Copyright Holder: Psychopathic Records
File Size: 2.1 MB
Date Downloaded: Monday, April 23, 2012 ? 5:58 PM Software/Network: FrostWire (BitTorrent)
IP Address:

File Name: Cee Lo Green ? Fuck You.mp3
Copyright Holder: Elektra Records
File Size: 3.5 MB
Date Downloaded: Saturday, November 19, 2011 ? 11:59 PM Software/Network: FrostWire (Gnutella)
IP Address:

As you can see by the Evidence we have against you, the copyright crime you committed was done through P2P (Peer-To-Peer) file- sharing software. P2P file-sharing software allows Internet users to share music, movies, software, and other types of files. Some examples of P2P software include LimeWire, FrostWire, Cabos, uTorrent, BitTorrent, Vuze, and Ares. Even if you purchased the file ? sharing software or subscription to a website, the rights you purchased were for the file-sharing software or subscription itself and not the rights to download, upload, or otherwise share copyrighted materials.

Claiming that you were not aware that you were committing a copyright crime by sharing the files listed in this notice does not absolve you of criminal and/or civil liability, and you are still liable for copyright infringement. In fact, if you read the fine print and/or user agreement associated with the file-sharing program you used or subscription you purchased, you will likely find a clause that places the liability on you as the end user and references the fact that downloading, uploading, or otherwise sharing copyrighted materials is illegal.

If you cannot locate the files listed in this notice, someone with access to your computer may have deleted the files. Either way, you can still be held criminally and/or civilly liable, as a crime has already been committed. Electronic evidence collected against you can still be used to prosecute you, even if the files have been deleted from your computer.

At this point, no criminal and/or civil charges have been filed against you, however if this matter is not settled by Friday, March 1, 2013 then you may face serious potential criminal and/or civil charges filed against you. If you are arrested for felony criminal copyright infringement you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and held in jail until you are arraigned in court.

We are providing you with an opportunity to settle this matter and will accept the sum of $495 to avoid any potential further action from being taken against you. If you act promptly you will help avoid being named as a Defendant in a potential criminal and/or civil lawsuit that can result in a felony criminal conviction causing imprisonment, and/or fines of up to several million dollars. You can pay the settlement amount of $495 and avoid further action from being taken against you by following these steps:

(1) Read and sign the Settlement Agreement included with this notice.

(2) Prepare a check or money order in the amount of $495 made payable to ?Net Tech Division/Internet Copyright Agency?. Be sure to reference Case 12345 on your method of payment.

(3) Mail the signed Settlement Agreement along with your settlement payment to:

Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency Net Technology Division
1455 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20004

We will contact you once we receive your Settlement Agreement and payment to confirm that no criminal and/or civil action will be taken against you, along with providing you with steps you can take to help avoid any future legal entanglements.

Enclosed please find a sheet containing answers to questions you may have and a Settlement Agreement. We look forward to your settling this matter before criminal and/or civil action is taken against you.


David Walsh
Senior Copyright Law Enforcement Officer
Internet Copyright Law Enforcement Agency
E-mail: dwalsh@copyrightlawenforcement.com

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: internet copyright law enforcement agency

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Comments on “Pure Scamming Copyright Troll Implies It's A Gov't Agency And That You Will Face Jail Time If You Don't Pay Up”

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G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Misprision of Felony [18 USC ?4] is the only thing that comes close though it is only for Felonies and for active concealment not just failure to report.
Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both..

Anonymous Coward says:

This sort of thing can even originate from government

This reminds me of the time I received a notice from a law firm that claimed that there was a warrant for my arrest due to a supposedly unresolved traffic violation. There had been a ticket without going into a very long story, the case ended up being stuck in limbo, where I figured that the prosecutor just discarded it as I hadn’t received any notifications concerning it for quite some time. I called the court clerks office to check into it and gave them my license information to verify that there were no warrants issued. Apparently, the city had contracted some law firm and given them access to a list of unresolved cases that were in their computer system, and they were sending threatening letters to try to scare people into paying tickets.

Milton Freewater says:

Re: This sort of thing can even originate from government

Indeed. Read some of the awesome stories about Arizona’s speeding cameras. The tickets were technically outside Arizona law, which requires law enforcement to serve you in person. Once people getting tickets in the mail figured out they weren’t binding, all hell broke loose.


out_of_the_blue says:

Falsely named, then, like the "Federal Reserve Bank".

It’s neither Federal, a Reserve, nor a Bank, yet many believe it to be impartial gov’t agency and not a private for-profit corporation. Why, there are even college-trained “economists” who tacitly defend it as such by NOT exposing it as complete fraud and economic tyranny.

Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up at same place!
Mike claims to have a college degree in economics, don’t ya know?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Falsely named, then, like the "Federal Reserve Bank".

Maybe so but there is a big difference. The FRBs were created by the federal government to serve a specific purpose for the federal government – hence the name. The FRBs are also not using this confusion on the part of the people to illegally exploit them for profit.

Anonymous Coward says:


I can’t but help to see the opportunity to set some really good legal precedent here in their prosecution. Especially with regards to the misuse of customer information should it be found that the ISP’s voluntarily assisted them in giving them access to customer information that was then used for the sole purpose of committing of a crime.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:


Thanks, Mike I posted an update, linking previous incarnations of this site cached by Google, and they are even more brazen (funny enough: a picture of their “Director” assigned by “the President” is a stock image, and most likely the crooks did not pay for it).

Also, this comment, if truthful, may shed some light to the mysterious way the crooks obtained more or less valid instances of file-sharing and contact information. Note this is not the first time I hear about the connection between “Limewire settlement scam” and this one.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Seems like legal scamming mastermind Alan Cooper is up to his old tricks again… I feel bad for Brett Gibbs and poor John Steele who are clearly the victims in all of this. David Walsh is probably just another of Cooper’s aliases. Perhaps Prenda can hire Tara Carreon to do a little PR and try to get their image back on track.

Shame on you Mr. Cooper!

Berenerd (profile) says:

Just sayin....

Domains By Proxy, LLC
14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States

Administrative Contact:
Private, Registration COPYRIGHTLAWENFORCEMENT.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
Domains By Proxy, LLC
14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
(480) 624-2599 Fax — (480) 624-2598

Technical Contact:
Private, Registration COPYRIGHTLAWENFORCEMENT.COM@domainsbyproxy.com
Domains By Proxy, LLC
14747 N Northsight Blvd Suite 111, PMB 309
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
United States
(480) 624-2599 Fax — (480) 624-2598

Domain servers in listed order:

Matt says:

Internet copyright law enforcement agency

I received one of those letters a few days ago and decided to do some investigating of my own. I notified the US Copyright office and verified that the Copyright owners listed on the letter were not the legal copyright owners. Also the IP address was for my current Internet provider and not the one from 2 years ago as mentioned in the letter. I also called the number listed and got a lady stating a different company, then called back and got recording to leave message. I notified the FBI and US Postal inspector since I received the certified letter in the mail. I sent an email to David Walsh who is listed on the letter from ICLEA advising him that I knew this was a scam and that I have notified the FBI and that I was sending them and the Postal inspector a copy of the letter. Within 2 hours after sending the email, I get a response saying that they have ceased operations and even their website now says that. I would like to think that I may have played a small part in them shutting down just thinking about the FBI coming to get them.

Ophelia Millais says:

Re: Internet copyright law enforcement agency

One of the comments on FightCopyrightTrolls says (unconfirmed) that the scammers rely on spyware which scans your computer for .torrent files and maybe also P2P software.

If this is true, then presumably it just sends what it finds, along with your current IP address, to the scammers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it also looks for your home address. Then they have everything they need for an extortion letter.

If such spyware can be located, it should be reported far and wide, so it can be detected and removed.

sophisticatedjanedoe says:

Re: Re: Internet copyright law enforcement agency

Here is another very interesting comment (posted a minute ago):

I received a notice that Limewire was being sued and because I was a paying customer I was entitled to a settlement amount. I filled out a form where the settlement would be sent. This would account for how the perps got my personal information. However, another P2P is called “Spotify” and it posts on facebook songs you download and listen too. The songs I was accused of downloading illegally were downloaded only to Spotify and not Limewire, so maybe facebook was hacked to get my personal info as well.

loaderboy (profile) says:

Re: Internet copyright law enforcement agency

This will be on the evening news…
You may note however that they talked some poor schmuck into this and supplied him with the servers,IT tech support, mailing address and web design. After it was all set up they bust him.
What with the sequester cutting into budgets they figure it’s cheaper to foil their own copyfraud than it is to take down manufactured terrorist plots.

Chris says:

Re: Internet copyright law enforcement agency

The concern I have now is… Since they now have “Actual” persons identified to the address that the letter was mailed too, what further violations have occurred there? Additionally, how about a list to other “Persons/Entities” and what about all of the People on those lists that have been actually verified via use of Certified Mail?

Sam (user link) says:

Re: Re: Internet copyright law enforcement agency

That’s what I was thinking. Even if they don’t succeed with this scam, they will have gained extra information they can use in their next attempt.

When you sign for a certified letter delivered by the USPS, does the sender get a copy (paper or digital) of the signed receipt? If he does, the scammers now have the signature of their targets.

Anonymous Coward says:

They Just Don't Get It!! o_0

Do these trolls NOT GET IT??? An IP address is NOT a person, only a machine somewhere in the world. It’s incredibly easy to tunnel or proxy to reach the internet from where you are, completely masking where the source machine is at. At this moment, my traffic is routed through a proxy in Australia, but I’m in America, so I have an Australian IP address. Sure, there’s server logs to check if law enforcement wants them, but unless they’re REQUIRED by law to keep those records for an undetermined amount of time, the troll is SOL.

And how did they know what songs this person “supposedly” downloaded? Wiretapping?? Isn’t that a crime in itself?

SHOW ME THE WARRANT! SHOW ME THE SUBPENA! is what I would say to a troll like this. This settles in court, not over E-mail!


Chris says:

Internet Copyright law Enforcement Agency

I too received one of these Certified Mail on February 17,2013
I believe this was initiated through a worm that was placed into Limewire. It followed in a letter that was sent to anyone wanting to be paid $1000.00 for a settlement they nay be entitled to. Glad to see that my suspicions were right and this was all bogus!Must admit, It looked pretty well planned!

Lennart Regebro says:

Oh, lovely, a combination of the fake invoice scam and IP-trolling.

Can’t see how they expected that to work really. The fake invoice scam relies on the invoice being payed because it’s easier or the economy department to pay than not to and they get payed the same salary whether they pay or not.

While if you do legal threats, the letter will go directly into the inbox of the company lawyer. Who gets payed by the hour.

special interesting says:

Lets seen now… mail fraud, impeersonating an enforcement officer, fraudulent evidence.

I dont like repeating myself but…

?Sensible people would laugh at this but money has its own stench and this time it smells bad. From my viewpoint the RIAA (and others of it ilk) uses the ‘organized crime’ business model. To be honest, as a voter this whole copyright thing is just pissing me off and even if it meant striking down the entire amendment regardless of any collateral damage would be best. What I mean is that if the organizations that the legislation has fostered seem indistinguishable from criminal organizations its too much for me to handle in any form.?

Is small part (and did edit it a bit) of another post: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130221/07560622055/riaa-google-isnt-trying-hard-enough-to-make-piracy-disappear-internet.shtml#c1390 which is kind of related.

I feel justified in this conclusion.

Glaze (profile) says:

Did nobody catch it???

The letter provided stated:

Evidence collected against you includes the correlation of your IP (Internet Provider) address listed in this notice at the time that the copyright crime we identified was committed.

But anybody talking about any of this stuff should at least know that IP does not stand for internet provider… but for Internet Protocol. It’s a dead giveaway that it was a scam.

Reminds me of a bug I saw on my friends laptop. He called me ranting and raving about how he couldn’t use his computer, because everytime he booted up and logged in he got a screen similar to one of these. Needless to say I couldn’t help him over the phone, went to his place and just started laughing my ass off when I read what it said. The language in it is not language that would ever be used by any kind of official entity of anything.

Judy says:

I got one of these letters

I just received one of these letters today and scare me. Not knowing what to do since this is March 1, I called the phone number on letter. Thought it was strange that when I called a answering machine answered saying thank you for your call and then got disconnected. I tried 3 times and same thing so went to internet and found this scam. I am so relieved to find out it’s a scam. I hope other people don’t get hooked into it and pay these crooks.

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