It has been exactly two weeks since the castrosptropic email leak at notorious 'legalised scam' law firm ACS:Law. Many, both inside and outside the legal circle believed this would strike the end of the rogue firm and finally put their 'get rich quick' scheme to bed.
Unbelievably 14 days later people are still reporting being harassed by Andrew Crossley for ridiculous sums of between £495 and over £1000. A post today by Slyck user 'ANGRYMAN' states that he has just received a second letter from ACS telling him to pay up or face ficticious court fines, suggesting that ACS:Law are still in operation.
"Okay Ive been following this thread for some while now as I am one of the many who has been wrongly accused. I got my second letter just now after my first lod had been refused as they say it was a template letter. Utter nonsense as I added half the words to the lod myself. I just copied the paragraph with the law acts involving the CDPA Act 1988 as I am no professional in the law. This letter that I have just received says if I do not pay the £495 within 14 days of receiving this 2nd letter then they will apply to the court for an immediate interim payment of £1000 towards their legal costs. What is this all about. Im innocent , can they do this, get money from you before you even go to court. Its outrageous. This ACS law company are really pushing it now. Threatening people with £1000 up front interim payments before you get taken to court surely cant be right. These people will not intimidate me. Ive not done it. Demanding up front legal costs by a court order before you go to court to cover their costs, whats that all about???" - ANGRYMAN, Slyck forums
As per usual, the helpful crew at Slyck, a forum ACS:Law previously attempted to shut down, jump on board to express their knowledge:
"ACS have been picked up on their lack of transparency re costs and fees before. They'll have plucked the £1000 (too round a figure to be real) out of thin air and would probably attribute it to the cost of sending their letters and other admin (LOL).
In reality the 1K has no other basis other than as an additional scare tactic." - Time on my hands, Slyck forums
"Don't worry about it, as far as I know this threat has no legal basis, as Time on my hands says, it's a scare tactic. A court cannot (will not?) award costs to someone on the basis of an accusation. The only way for this to happen (as far as I'm aware) is to have a trial and one side to be found guilty, and we all know that's not going to happen." - shufferin'shuccotash, Slyck forums
Could ACS:Law be attempting to milk as much from innocent people in what could be the final weeks of their existence? It seems they're wasting absolutely no time sending out their usual hogwash to the masses that have previously sent ACS letters of denial. [EDIT: PI guru Alexander Hanff explains why ACS cannot reject a LoD]
So, what can we do to help put the final nails in the coffin of Andrew Crossley and his team of currently legalised scammers?
Education is key here and what will be most feared by ACS:Law. This is a firm built on taking advantage of the good, non-confrontational nature of most people, relying heavily, if not solely, on being able to bully via a suite and a letterhead.
A Google search for the law firm now suggests 'scam' as a search phrase, 'leak' as another and lists hundreds of results enlightening those who have fallen victim to an ACS letter to the foul nature of the firms existence.
Let's outline a few things that we, the average internet user, can do to ensure the demise of ACS:Law:
- Don't stop informing people, the media and any contacts you may have about ACS:Law's operation and the leak. Perhaps Crossley thinks that in time the chaos caused by the email leaks will 'die down', let's not allow that to happen.
- Contact the new 'Legal Ombudsman' and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) who, according to reports, are currently receiving hundreds if not thousands of complaints. If you've received a letter then use this to your advantage, get in contact with the SRA and add to the numbers.
- Get in contact with Privacy International who are building a case against ACS:Law. This is especially important if you have been one of the thousands of people who's data has been exposed by Andrew Crossley.
- Contact your ISP today and ask them what they are doing to combat these 'IP collection' scams. UK ISP Xilo has just stated that they WILL NOT hand over any customer data to the likes of ACS and strongly believe that IP collection methods are flawed and hold no real evidence to a case of copyright infringement. Put pressure on your ISP to release a similar statement - remember BT and Plusnet are now rethinking giving data over so easily. Let them know that the privacy of their paying customers should be a huge priority and if they cannot prove their will to protect you, you'll be going elsewhere.
- Avoid or download the content 'forbidden' by ACS:Law - the choice is yours. If you don't want a letter, Slyck has compiled a list of the content UK users should avoid sharing on public networks like BitTorrent. All other users are immune though, and if you're worried you can still download it all, anyway, via the web.
As yet more 'get rich quick on the Internet' hopefuls jump on the 'sue 'em all' bandwagon, it seems as though there is no shortage of potential targets for Anonymous as the battle for online freedom continues...