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Scammers Demand Piracy Payouts From Megaupload Users

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A fake German law firm is demanding compensation from former Megaupload users for alleged copyright infringement

Some former users of the now closed file-storage site Megaupload have been targeted by scammers using the guise of a German law firm.

TorrentFreak reports that the fake firm ‘Dr. Kroner & Kollegen’ of Munich has been demanding cash settlements on behalf of copyright holders such as EMI, DreamWorks, Sony and Universal Studios.

Intimidation tactics

The scammers imitate the notorious copyright law firm ACS:Law by sending ‘pay-up-or-else’ letters to alleged pirates. The user is told that he or she is liable to pay a fine of €10,000 (£8,300) for illegally downloading films or albums, though the letter goes on to say that a payment of €147 (£123) to ‘Dr. Kroner & Kollegen’ would clear up the issue.

Considering Megaupload’s current legal concerns, the letter is crafted to intimidate a potential pirate into paying rather than going to court. However, while the letter may appear official at first through its use of (fake) IP addresses and time stamps, the German site Verbraucherzentrale Sachsen-Anhalt points out that it lacks a cease and desist notice, fails to name any infringed files and requires the recipient to pay into a bank account in Slovakia.

Christian Wolf, writing for OnlineKosten, adds that every trace of ‘Dr. Kroner & Kollegen’ appears to be fabricated. Details from the fake firm’s (now taken down) website about its connection with the Bar Association in Munich are debunked by Wolf and even the Slovakian bank account may be a ruse.

Another scam targeting supposed pirates is slightly more devious. TorrentFreak highlights that following the closure of Kino.to last year, a piece of malware has been imitating the German Federation against Copyright Infringement (GVU) to similarly scare users into payments. The malware redirects the infected user to a page suggesting the GVU is aware of piracy from the computer in use. It then requires the user to pay a relatively small €50 sum through an unofficial PayPal-esque site.

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