For more than four years, we've been writing about Prenda Law, a prolific copyright troll (that is, a company that sends dire legal threats and demands for money to people they accuse of copyright infringement, based on the flimsiest of evidence), whose conduct is so breathtakingly illegal that it feels like satire or performance art (but it's not).
Prenda has faced a string of judgments against it -- most recently, a $450,000 settlement to victims of its illegal robocall campaign -- and now, finally, the FBI is taking serious action against its principals.
Former federal prosecutor Ken White has seen letters from the FBI to attorneys for some of Prenda's victims that he says indicate that the FBI is engaged in "active, determined investigation in its later stages."
Here's what the letter reveals:
*The FBI is looking at the various entities Prenda Law used, including Steele Hansmeier PLLC, LW Systems, Livewire Holdings, AF Holdings, Ingenuity13, and Guava LLC.
* Though the letter does not name individual targets, the context makes clear that the FBI is investigating the principals of Prenda Law (with the exception of Paul Duffy, I suppose).
* The FBI has devoted substantial resources to soliciting victim impact in a systematic way, and based on its questions about availability to testify is contemplating prosecution.
* The FBI is focusing on "a fraudulent scheme known as 'trolling'" — which may indicate that the FBI has concluded that Prenda Law principals themselves uploaded their pornography to BitTorrent sites in order to sue people who downloaded it.
FBI Actively Investigating Prenda Law Team For Fraud
(Image: FBI Badge & gun, PD)
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