'Illegal downloading' cash demand shock
SHOCKED residents have been sent threatening letters demanding cash as payment for "illegally downloading" internet content.
MP Jon Trickett is warning people to seek advice if they receive a letter apparently from a law firm which claims they owe its clients money for downloading material such as films, games and music.
Thorpe Audlin dad Paul Johnston-Knight has been sent four letters from the firm – which is currently under investigation by the Solicitors Regulation Authority – with the first asking for 500 and bank card details.
The 34-year-old said: "The first letter said the firm had suffered theft from illegal downloading of one of its client's properties, a movie which had also been put on file-sharing websites.
"It claimed they had gone to BT for information which showed our address as one of those which had downloaded it.
"This is something that we have never done and never would do.
"The firm was asking for credit card details and security numbers which I knew would mean they could take as much money as they wanted.
"It was a massive shock to get this in the post and of course a great worry because this was something we hadn't done and couldn't afford to pay for.
"What concerned me most was the level of threat in the letter."
Mr Johnston-Knight tried to contact the firm but could never reach anybody or received a reply.
Subsequent letters to him increased the amount of money demanded to 600.
He added: "I'm very concerned that that someone a bit less savvy, or who was very worried about going to court, might pay straight away.
"People might be unsure as to whether their partner or children and their friends have actually been downloading things."
Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett – whose constituency covers Featherstone and Ackworth – said the law firm could not be named as it was under investigation.
He added: "A number of my constituents have received threatening letters from a law firm demanding they pay considerable sums of money for illegally downloading material.
"I have referred all such cases to the Solicitors Regulation Authority but would urge anyone who gets anything similar to seek independent legal advice or contact my office.
"Such firms can only get money by taking you to court and if you have genuinely not broken the law then you have nothing to worry about."
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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