In many countries around the world, especially the United States, Germany and the UK, hundreds of thousands of Internet users have received letters from rightsholders demanding cash settlements to make supposed copyright lawsuits go away. The cases rarely end up in court, leading some to label these schemes “legal blackmail”.
Nevertheless, and erroneous accusations aside, the vast majority of these projects operate within the law, which is more than can be said for a new scam currently hitting Sweden. Unsuspecting Internet users are receiving demands for almost two hundred euros in letters that claim they have been engaged in illegal downloading.
At this early stage it is not exactly clear how the scam operates, but it is believed that Internet users browsed a website set up by criminals which had the ability to gather information from their phones.
After visiting the site, victims reported receiving an SMS followed up by a mailed cash demand from Arcad World Corp., a company registered at a post office box in Stockholm.
“You have downloaded copyrighted porn. Soon you will receive a civil claim. We ask you to pay it so that your illegal activity will not be a police matter. According to Swedish law, it is your duty to find out if the movies can be downloaded or not,” the scammers explain.
Victims are then told to send amounts between 90 and 195 euros to an account held at the Valartis Bank in Liechtenstein.
When action against illegal downloading is mentioned in Sweden, the name that often springs to mind is the infamous Antipiratbyran. That image was only reinforced when the scammers included a link to an Antipiratbyran webpage in their scam mails. The group says it has absolutely nothing to do with the letters.
“We have been approached by some 100 people across the country, consumer groups and others who are wondering what this is all about,” says Sara Lindbäck, a copyright lawyer at Antipiratbyrån.
Antipiratbyran’s advice is for letter recipients to inform the police and certainly not pay. In an announcement last evening the police said they are aware of the scheme.
“This is a new type of scam where the sender wants to intimidate the recipient into paying money. Anyone who receives one of these requests should absolutely not pay any money but should instead contact the police,” said Niclas Linér, Detective in cybercrime group at the Police Authority in Västmanland.
Police say that a person resident in southern Sweden is suspected of fraud.