The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Minneapolis office is conducting an active investigation of the principals of Prenda Law, the notorious team of crooked copyright trolls that I've spilled so much e-ink over here.
Today I spoke with two sources who confirmed receiving a letter from the FBI inquiring about their experiencing with Prenda and seeking information about Prenda's activities. The letter — which I have reviewed — has been sent out on a large scale to attorneys who have represented targets of Prenda's litigation. 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.
Based on my 21 years in the federal criminal justice system, I believe the letter reflects an active, determined investigation in its later stages. The letter represents an abandonment of operational security and confidentiality; it suggests the FBI no longer sees a need for stealth. That, in turn, suggests that the FBI believes it's already developed the evidence it needs to prove the substance of its case (that Team Prenda committed wire and/or mail fraud) and is just identifying as many victims as possible for potential witnesses and to establish the amount of damages. Bear in mind that under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the more money wrongdoers made, the more time they're facing.
I'll report more as I learn more. But as I often say — the wheels turn slowly, my friends. But they turn. Team Prenda needs federal criminal defense attorneys, and needs them right now.
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