Recently I heard too many reports that Steele Hansmeier / Prenda Law / Anti-Piracy Law Group has intensified its harassing calls. And the crook on the other end of the phone line is no one else but previously “retired” (or rather fired — after he foolishly disobeyed his master’s order to move to Las Vegas) Mark Lutz.
These calls are beyond fraud.
- The caller does not identify himself, which is a serious violation of the FDCPA (yes, some lawyers think that Prenda’s phone campaign can be categorized as a debt collection — albeit there is no debt). I’m sure it is afoul of other regulations.
- Mark Lutz claims that he calls “from Prenda Law,” a nearly defunct law firm that is not in good standing with the state of Illinois: the beast is changing its skin these days, becoming “Anti-Piracy Law Group¹.”
- Mark Lutz refers to dismissed lawsuits as if they are still alive, mentioning such “plaintiffs” as Hard Drive Productions, Boy Racer, etc. Especially egregious lie is Hard Drive Productions involvement. Its owner Paul Pilcher is probably soiling his pants every morning, as memories start to kick in after the wet slumbers recede. Memories of the countersuits, citizen activity informing his neighbors and schools about the illegal porn production in his home, and, on top of it, the current FBI investigation of the underage pornography allegations. Will anyone in his shoes even think of initiating a new lawsuit as Mark Lutz promises? Add the fact that Prenda dismissed all the “real” plaintiff cases, leaving only ones that involve questionable, most likely fake (and in any case fraudulent) entities AF Holdings, Ingenuity 13, and Quad International.
When I hear about these threats, I imagine a gang of gas station robbers who just had a successful heist and took all the cash from the cash register, but the ultimate greed made them crawl on the unwashed floor to collect stray coins from under-the-shelf filth.
Here is a call that was recorded last week:
Ohai Mark, I hear your voice has changed a little bit (compared to fatter days). Was it a result of a special treatment you received in the Mexican jail? Regardless, if you say “copyright infringement lawsuit” tens of thousands times, it becomes a sound signature that is nearly impossible to forge.
Also, I thought you stated under oath “I do not work for Prenda Law.” I’m sure that Judge Scriven will love to learn that you have committed a perjury. I know, I know: you will say that you worked for Prenda before, then retired, and now you are back to work for the ticket John Steele bough to get you out of hell, that you did not work for Prenda at the end of November, when the hearings took place. Whatever, we will see if your hogwash is capable of convincing anyone.
In the meantime, while Mark is still with dying “Prenda Law,” ransom letters that use a new letterhead have started to arrive:
Although this letter is slightly less brazen than its previous reincarnations, it does not pass the anti-bullshit test. As Raul has observed after the first glance,
- Who are the “engineers”?
- What are “activities violating computer intercept statutes”?, Note the plural: I thought Prenda was only using the CFAA.
- The letter incorrectly implies that the recipient is a defendant in a filed lawsuit “arising from these activities.”
Again, on the surface:
- “Client’s secured website” is unreasonably vague.
- Claims are “very serious,” my ass.
- “Severe monetary damages” is also unreasonably vague.
- How does Prenda/Anti-Piracy Law Group know a lawsuit like this will cost over 100K to litigate through a jury verdict?
- The letter poses two questions but does not really answer them.
- According to comments and personal emails, people receive a lot of such calls, majority (if not all) refers to dismissed cases.
- There is a couple of reports that while the voice undoubtedly belongs to Mark Lutz, the caller identifies himself (when he identifies himself at all) as Jeff Schultz. I’m investigating this claim and will followup.
- Some calls reportedly come from 703-272-2013, there is a set of interesting reports about this number, suggesting that the Prenda spoofs the caller ID.
Here is another recorded message. This time the caller introduces himself as “Jeff Schultz,” yet people who have been harassed for a long time by Lutz confirmed that the voice belongs to this putz. Compare yourself:
…and if you still think that Jeff Schultz is not Mark Lutz (of the other way around), here is another recording, this time the caller introduces himself as Mark Lutz:
I also heard a story when Prenda’s Harassment officer called himself “Mark” and “Jeff” during the same conversation. Are all the crooks that stupid?
¹ While “Prenda” was a rather neutral term (please don’t start the “Pretenda” joke), ironically the criminal enterprise has managed to embed the deceit as a modus operandi in its very name: one simply cannot be anti- its own turf. It’s like if a plumber would declare that he is anti-sewage. Or a lion would declare that he is anti-meat. John Steele does not even hide the fact that he loves the status quo regarding the online infringement: his (now temporarily defunct) Twitter account had a tagline “Just a small town boy who thanks Bram Cohen every $ingle day.”