Canadian authorities are warning Internet users to be vigilant following the emergence of a file-sharing settlement scam operation. West Vancouver police, who have now issued an official fraud warning, say that seniors have been receiving letters claiming they have been caught downloading a range of porn titles. Unsurprisingly, the letters come with an offer to settle for thousands of dollars.
Just under a week ago we reported that mass-lawsuits targeting BitTorrent users had migrated from the United States to Canada.
Having met resistance on home soil, the makers of The Hurt Locker are now sending out letters to Canadian Internet users saying they have been caught sharing the Oscar-winning movie. Settle now for a few thousand dollars, the letters say, or face an expensive legal battle in court.
While opponents of these settlement schemes label them as a ‘scam’, they largely operate within the law. After all, they’re being run by lawyers. However, where there’s money to be made there’s always the chance of an illegal scam riding on the same wave, as Canadians are just finding out.
According to an official public fraud warning from West Vancouver Police Department, Canadian seniors have been targeted recently in a fake pay-up-or-else style ‘file-sharing’ settlement scheme.
The letters, which claim to be from Artisan International License, Compliance and Investigations, state that the recipient has been caught downloading porn movies. In common with their ‘legal’ counterparts, the scammers offer to make the whole sorry episode go away for a few thousand dollars. If they don’t settle, further legal action is threatened.
“I opened an interesting letter today from ‘Artisan International’. The letter accused me of downloading several pornographic movies via “Bittorrent / P2P,” says a letter recipient who identifies himself as Sandworm.
“The letter demands 3000$ by September 24th. I won’t go into my professional background, but let’s just say I know the law and am no idiot when it comes to internet technology. In fact I regularly publish articles covering filesharing technology,” he continues.
“They are messing with the wrong person. I took the letter straight to the local police. It turns out they have already received hundreds of complaints about these letters already. That is hundreds of complaints in my neighborhood. Their advice: ‘rip it up’.”
The movies listed in the fake settlement letters include Paris Porno (1976), Retired Porn Stars (2010), Real Big Boobs 2, Volume 2 (2006), White-Hot Nurses (2002), Reality Pron Series 1 (1995), Les Affames sont tombles sure la tete (1994) and Rammin’ the Rear Gate 2001 (2001).
Targeting the elderly with any scam is a despicable act, made even worse by the potentially embarrassing payload employed in this case.
“If you or anyone you know has been a recipient of this letter or has personal knowledge of who may be responsible for sending these letters, please contact the West Vancouver Police at 604-925-7300 quoting file number 11-11341 or if you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 ,” the police conclude.
Scams of this nature aren’t new. Criminals in Germany tried the same thing last year.