Turning lead into gold used to be the business of the alchemist, but today the Internet is awash with ‘proven’ techniques allowing anyone to go from rags to riches, if only they have the right knowledge.
One person prepared to share his skills with the world is Timothy Sykes. In 1999, while still in school, Sykes reportedly took just over $12,000 in Bar Mitzvah money and began trading penny stocks, transforming his investment into $1.65m before he hit 21.
With dozens of articles documenting his fame and fortune, in 2011 Sykes launched his own website, TimothySykes.com. It is here that others wishing to emulate his success are brought onboard with tempting offers such as the one below.
Of course, the kind of knowledge that enables people to get rich super quick doesn’t come cheap. A few initial ‘lessons’ aside, Sykes sells DVD titles such as “TIMfundamentals” for $397+ shipping. TIMTactics weighs in at a few bucks shy of $500, as do others. Sykes promises that by following his techniques the money invested can be recouped with single good trade, but there are people out there who prefer to make money without the initial outlay.
These people find happiness on The Pirate Bay where all Sykes’ content can be found just by searching for his name. But the money man is unhappy with people getting rich without the appropriate investment so he’s cooked up a new money-making scheme of his own in response.
In a series of lawsuits filed at the Illinois Northern District Court, Sykes’ Millionaire Media, LLC is now suing eleven BitTorrent users who allegedly downloaded and shared his works without permission. Currently, all targets appear to be Comcast users.
One of the lawsuits reveals that an individual was tracked by German anti-piracy company Excipio. He or she is accused of copyright infringement in the most aggressive terms.
“Defendant is an egregious online infringer of Plaintiff’s copyrights. Indeed,
Defendant’s IP address….was used without authorization to illegally distribute seven different copyrighted works owned by Plaintiff…,” the court filing reads.
The seven files – PennyStocking, PennyStocking Part Deux, ShortStocking, TIMFundamentals, TIMFundamentals Part Deux, TIMRaw and TIMTactics – were all wrapped up a single torrent. The court papers don’t provide evidence of distribution of all of those titles but note that the defendant distributed a small “bit” of the whole package in “multiple infringing transactions.”
“Through each transaction, Defendant distributed a ‘bit’ of the Infringing File. The PCAP shows Defendant’s IP address, and the ‘bit’ that was distributed. Excipio verified that the ‘bit’ that was distributed belongs to the Infringing File by calculating its hash value,” the papers read.
Interestingly the hash of the file – 4f7fa6edd6bb1e13b5af478fbae4daafab968f51 – reveals an error in the evidence presented to the court.
“The Infringing File is a zip file that contains a variety of both text and video files owned by Plaintiff,” adding “Excipio further downloaded a full copy of the Infringing File, unzipped it, and reviewed each of the seven works contained in it.”
However, a cursory view of the hash in question reveals there are no ZIP files whatsoever inside the torrent, just plain video, audio and documents.
Technicalities aside, it seems fairly clear what will happen next. Sykes’ chosen lawfirm – Schulz Law – are well known in copyright trolling circles. In fact, lawyer Mary Schulz was sanctioned by the court in a Malibu Media case, something she is now required to report to courts in which she is admitted to practice.
For each infringed work, Sykes’ Millionaire Media, LLC demand statutory damages, attorneys’ fees and costs. While the company “demands a trial by jury on all issues so triable” it seems likely that they’ll actually be looking for settlements from the 11 individuals they’ve targeted so far.
Another way to turn a small investment into big money, then.