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ACS:LAW – A Brief History of Speculative Invoicing

February 13, 2011 6 comments

The hearing regarding ACS:LAW and Media C.A.T has now been well covered.  My own personal favourite moments from Judge Birss  are at the foot of this article.

The reason for this post though is that it seems we have forgotten those OTHER people involved with all this over the last THREE years now.

I would like to show those who are only just reading up about all this, the bigger picture.

Davenport Lyons were the original Law firm (2007), who gave over a lot of their material and clients, to ACS:LAW (May 2009) including a number of the paralegals,  amongst them Terence Tsang.  Davenport Lyons were investigated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and referred  to the SDT (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal) [2] [3]

ACS:LAW represented Games, Music and Pornographic films, and started sending letters out  “en masse”

Tilly Bailey Irvine were up next (January 2010) and for a few months sent out letters defending Pornographic films, Although the films were legal in the sense they were certificated, the actual names of these films were VERY provocative and one could only imagine the distress caused to the Wife or indeed Husband who opened one of those letters.

Tilly Bailey Irvine withdrew citing “Adverse publicity” (April 2010) [2] not before being condemned in the House of Lords as “Latest entrants to the hall of infamy” and “An embarrassment to the creative industries” and also being accused by Wikipedia of “Vandalising” their entry.

In a wider attack by the Lords during the Digital Economy Bill, the actions of these “Piracy Chasers” was condemned as “Blackmail and a Scam”

Gallant Macmillan entered the fray defending The Ministry of Sound in July 2010With the online community outraged at yet another “Speculative invoice” entering the scene, letters started being sent to the Chief Master who issued the NPO’s that forced ISP’s to hand over details of their subscribers.

The “Anonymous DDos attacks on ACS:LAW brought down their website in September 2010 and then ACS:LAW accidently released a HUGE email archive online which was quickly snatched and posted to torrent sites, The contents of the emails were explosive.

The huge data leak gave added impetus to the Courts handing out the NPOs and a hearing was adjourned [2].  When it was reconvened BT/Plusnet refused to hand over their subscribers data and then it was learnt that BT had destroyed the records it held for Gallant Macmillan.  Gallant Macmilan were subject to DDos attacks.

Gallant Macmillan withdrew after BT destroyed the data they requested after a delay in obtaining a “norwich pharmacal” order, they deemed they could not make enough money out of the scheme to make it worth their while.

ACS:LAW just kept ploughing on though, using Logistep first as a “Data monitor” then Digiprotect, and then an obscure firm called NG3Systems.

After the DDos attack that destroyed their web presence it was thought that that would be the end of them.  They continued issuing letters however with  Media C.A.T who represented Pornographers Sheptonhurst amongst others.  ACS:LAW were investigated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and referred  to the SDT (Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal)

Forced into a corner of ”put up or shut up” after claims he would never take a case to court, Crossley attempted a Court hearing against some recipients who had NOT responded, what is known as a “Default Judgement” It failed on an epic scale.

Some of those accused actually sent in a response and a defence and the hearing ended in disarray as the Judge ordered a search for all other cases on the Court system. He found 27 of them and arranged for a Court hearing to work out what direction should be taken.

With the Community totally focused against them and watching every move they made, it became clear that  ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T were desperate, to drop all the cases. The Judge refused adjourned the hearing and set a new date for January 2011 [2]

A new letter went out from a company called GCB Ltd, the community smelt a rat and rightly so. According to the Judge it was an attempt by Crossley and Bowden to get the last bits of money they could.

For the rest read the judgment online.  My favourite parts are below, and show what we knew all along, it was a Scam of epic proportions.

Media CAT and ACS:Law have a very real interest in avoiding public scrutiny of the cause of action because in parallel to the 26 court cases, a wholesale letter writing campaign is being conducted from which revenues are being generated. This letter writing exercise is founded on the threat of legal proceedings such as the claims before this court.

The information annexed to Mr Batstone’s letter refers to ACS:Law having “recovered” £1 Million. Whether that was right and even if so whether it was solely in relation to Media CAT or other file sharing cases I do not know. Simple arithmetic shows that the sums involved in the Media CAT exercise must be considerable. 10,000 letters for Media CAT claiming £495 each would still generate about £1 Million if 80% of the recipients refused to pay and only the 20% remainder did so. Note that ACS:Law’s interest is specifically mentioned in the previous paragraph because of course they receive 65% of the revenues from the letter writing exercise. In fact Media CAT’s financial interest is actually much less than that of ACS:Law. Whether it was intended to or not, I cannot imagine a system better designed to create disincentives to test the issues in court. Why take cases to court and test the assertions when one can just write more letters and collect payments from a proportion of the recipients?

Friday 09 April 2010 by Andrew J Crossley (My clients are pleased with the service I provide. I have conducted file sharing-related work for 11 months; to date I have recovered close to £1m for my clients.)

The GCB episode is damning in my judgment. This shows that Media CAT is a party who, while coming to court to discontinue, is at the very same time trying to ram home claims formulated on exactly the same basis away from the gaze of the court. That will not do. I find that these notices of discontinuance are indeed an abuse of the court’s process. The advantage of discontinuing as opposed to applying to amend is unwarranted in that it avoids judicial scrutiny of the underlying basis for wider campaign orchestrated by Media CAT and ACS:Law to generate revenue under the various agreements such as the Sheptonhurst agreement.

 One might think a claimant (and their legal adviser) who was giving their claim serious further consideration before perhaps starting it afresh in a different form or dropping it altogether, would certainly not assert the very same claim against other people not (yet) before the court. The GCB episode shows that Mr Crossley’s client had every intention of doing precisely that and that ACS:Law were perfectly well aware of it. It is very difficult not to draw the inference that this was nothing more than a last ditch attempt to make some money from the letter writing exercise.

And maybe the most damning part with implications for the Digital Economy Bill,  that an IP address alone; “cannot and does not purport to identify the individual who actually did anything.”

Just listened to the “BBC RADIO 5 Investigates” Program Good effort on their part. 30 minutes dedicated to this issue.

ACS:LAWs File Sharing Campaign-The Bubble has Judge Birss-t

January 25, 2011 13 comments
 
 

The portly figure of Andrew Crossley leaving the hearing on 24_01_11

 

“I have ceased my work… I have been subject to criminal attack,”, “My emails have been hacked. I have had death threats and bomb threats,”

So said ACS:LAWs Andrew Crossley’s in a statement read out in Court AFTER he had left.

And with that he was gone, the infamous Lawyer who has led his Law firm to destruction and many thousands of innocent people to despair, has seemingly given up.  The man whose lies have broken marriages and familys and lives, issued his statement, and went, didn’t even hang about to deliver it himself.  

I have no doubt however, he WILL be back, maybe as an “Advisor” or “Co-ordinator), his Ego will demand it.  But what of his claims of threats, against him?

Today the Metropolitan Police has said it had no knowledge of any bomb threat against Mr Crossley or ACS:Law. The US Company that Crossley claimed to be working with Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver (also known as United Copyright Group),  evacuated its offices after receiving a bomb threat via email last October.

As those who have been following this story for the last few years, will know, ACS:LAW are “not the best at getting things right, indeed they even attempted SUE a forum that had included that very statement.  And this is the kind of scenario that made ACS:LAW the most hated Law firm in the UK, and the most complained about, over 500 complaints had been received regarding their practice at the point that Andrew Crossley was referred to the “Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal”, for the THIRD time!

They threatened to sue the owner of a domain that was called “BeingScammed” a website that provided vital information and help in the early days, In a leaked Twitter conversation the Paralegal and EX Davenport Lyons employee Terence Tsang said of this incident

TezimondoYes but I decided to not pursue him for costs and damages. Was feeling nice.

BeingScammed rebranded and morphed into BeingThreatened arguably a far more powerful base alongside the Slyck forum  for those letter recipients that felt that the ACS:LAW model did not pass the “Smell test”.  Indeed this very Blog was setup as a repository for the background to these people behind the practice, there is lots of it.

But Crossley is a consummate liar, a man who is VERY slippery indeed.  Many times he has been caught out and changed his now defunct website to suit the fact he had been found out.  The different Law Firms that cropped up alongside ACS:LAW (Tilly Bailey Irvine, Gallant Macmillan)  seemingly linked by a common purpose of “Copyright enforcement” were later exposed by the release of ACS:LAW of their email database to be linked also by Crossley as well, sharing letter templates and other ideas,  whilst the others though fell by the wayside, TBI first then Gallant Macmillan due to negative publicity, ACS:LAW had no such reputation that could be harmed so Crossley ploughed on.

An interview with Crossley by the Telegraph highlights the type of person that the public have been exposed to for nearly TWO years. 

When we spoke he had portrayed himself as a pauper, telling me that ‘less than a month ago’ he had been wandering around an air show with no money in his pocket and not a ‘penny to my name’. The leaked data painted a very different picture.

‘Hi Paul,’ he said, a few days later in an email to me. ‘One thing I wanted to scratch from the interview was I said I had no money recently. That was not an accurate reflection of the position.’

No not accurate at all, Crossley expected to make over THREE MILLION POUNDS himself (2010-2011) that would have been Crossleys cut, the GROSS revenue was to be a whopping TEN MILLION POUNDS.  That after all was what this tawdry mess was all about all along.

The excellent Torrentfreak posted an article regarding his attitudes to those less fortuate.

The story he trolls about regarding his “emails being hacked” is not true either, he was a target of a ddos, but he had the arrogance to mock that, it was AFTER this that his site was overwhelmed and in rebuilding his website the plank exposed his email backup to the World in the root Directory.  Why he had the WHOLE archive in such a place is still a mystery.  He has still not apologised to the public for exposing their details to the world.

Crossley is quoted from his emails to have attempted to “Sidefoot” the SRA investigation.

This year the Company GCB LTD seemed to have also joined the fray but the moment they started they were crushed by an outpouring of scorn and derision.  It turned out that a Paralegal from ACS:LAW had taken over GCB LTD, but Crossley denied ANY knowledge, this again was a lie exposed at the second Court hearing where Crossley let slip that in addition to Jonathan Miller there was an unnamed SECOND ex employee.

At the Court hearing it was disclosed by Crossley that GCB LTD had been planned in September, interestingly the same time period as the “Email leak”

The links to his friend Lee Bowden owner of Media C.A.T I believe are well established and have been reported on already.  Bowden is the Managing Director of “Piri Ltd”, and the “Text Works” in addition to Media C.A.T

Many people mainly those who stood up and refused to pay up, and some of the Media have come out of this well, a few have not.  Sky has still not even reported on their “Breaking News” Channel the fact of the ACS:LAW email leak, there is suspicion regarding Sky and ACS:LAW and the silence that SKY has tried to bring to this in light of them being the biggest ISP to let down their subscribers it is SHAMEFUL of them.  8000 of their subscribers linked forever with appallingly titled Pornography that is linked to their address and credit card details and SKY says……NOTHING

I believe, I really HOPE this is the end for this horrid “Speculative Invoicing”, only time will tell.

ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T Letters issued by GCB Ltd (UPDATE 5)

January 13, 2011 39 comments

UPDATE ON THIS STORY 20th January 2011

PC PRO have written a devastating piece regarding this story, please read.  It PROVES that GCB LTD are linked to ACS:LAW through one of their Paralegals  Jonathan Miller

IMPORTANT

To the 26 remaining people with cases outstanding

I understand that ACS LAW have been sending out letters in the last two days. Please could you send me a scan of this, or contact me at acs.bore@googlemail.com

IMPORTANT

People who have received letters from ACS:LAW the now INFAMOUS Law Firm based in the UK who have since May 2009 been sending out what many consider to be “Speculative invoices” and others “Pay us or we SUE” mail to people they suspect of filesharing, seem to have switched to a rather obscure company to continue their dubious practice.

People have started to receive a letter pack from a company called GCB Ltd, C/O Mclean Reid

Mclean Reid are a Chartered accountants and quite what their connection with this is, is not clear.  The letters are posted on here to support others who may be receiving them soon.

The letter is somewhat amusing in the sense that it refers the reader to “A copy of the case between “Polydor and others vs Brown and others” which even ACS:LAW staff felt was irrelevant as the person in the case ADMITTED he was at fault, and also even stranger for a law firm regarding a legal ruling, rather than include Court documents, they refer the reader to a BBC NEWS story about the now discredited Barwinska case.

All this of course just FOUR days before the Court hearing that many believe will decide the future of these kinds of cases.

I would urge ANYONE who has received a letter from GCB LTD on behalf of ACS:LAW to contact the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority)

Contact Centre Proforma – External Use Doc File

Contact Centre
Solicitors Regulation Authority
Tel: 0870 606 2555
Fax: 0207 320 5964
Email: contactcentre@sra.org.uk

UPDATE: Mclean Reid have issued a statement on their Website concerning this situation (Confirmed)

NOTICE

We have no connection whatsoever with ACS Law

GCB Ltd was formed by us and appears to be being misused by some third party. 

We are taking urgent steps to ensure that our name is not in any way abused in this connection.

Thank you.

This rather terse statement was followed by a further posting on one of the forums covering the ACS:LAW debacle (UnConfirmed)

GCB Ltd was a dormant company formed by us at the request of a client, we were the registered office for convenience. Our client thought he was helping out an ‘associate’ of his by allowing that ‘associate’ to use this dormant company for a business venture (which we knew nothing about). Neither we, nor our client, knew it was going to be used for this purpose. We only discovered this yesterday (13th January) and accordingly advised our client, who also wants to remove his association from this company.

This latest news just adds to the fog, I would urge ALL recipients to complain to the relevant authorities about this as it does seem very suspicious.  On contacting Holborn Place it appears that a Mr Miller is the Director of GBC Ltd

 This link may be of use to help point you in the right direction. 

UPDATE  2:

Mclean Reid have now stated the following although I can not confirm it

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mclean Reid can confirm that they are cancelling the registered office facility for GCB Ltd and have contacted the various regulatory authorities and other interested parties.

We also confirm that we have no connection whatsoever with ASB Law, its directors or shareholders.

 UPDATE: 3

 Email from Mclean Reid, just after the ACS:LAW Court case ended:

Yes we will send money back to sender
 We have not notified the Police, but you should feel free to do so.
 

 

We are advised that the Director has taken the decision stop further trading through GCB Ltd in respect of alleged copyright infringement.

We believe that he has moved swiftly to minimise the damage to his name in taking this decisive action. 

We are further advised that he was unaware of the background involved in these claims or the precise nature of the claims.  To that end anyone receiving letters from or on behalf of GCB Ltd in respect of copyright infringement should ignore these letters. We have been assured that no further action will be taken.

 Make of this what you will! But it does seem like the latest threat from ACS:LAW/Media C.A.T via GCB LTD is over!

 IMPORTANT NEW NEWS

The rather excellent “Ren” has provided a great post on Slyck for those affected by GCB LTD

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