Anybody that has ever illegally downloaded a file might want to pay close attention to this story.

Two lawyers, Paul Hansmeier and John Steele were indicted on multiple charges of fraud back in December. The pair had a rather underhand scheme in place that preyed on unsuspecting porn pirates (a phrase I never thought I’d write).

Steele and Hansmeier bought the copyright for a number of porn videos that they then uploaded to piracy sites. Once a user downloaded the video the lawyers would file copyright claims against them in court but never actually took the offenders to court.

Instead they would send letters and make threatening phone calls to the pirates informing them they could face up to $150 000 (~R1.9m) in fines. The pair would then tell the users that they could make the whole affair disappear for a fee of $3 000 (~R38 000).

Faced with the prospect of having a black mark against their name and a bank account deep in the red, pirates paid the lawyers the $3 000 settlement fee.

The only reason we know all of this is because Steele pleaded guilty to the charges and detailed the scheme to a court as part of a plea bargain.

It is alleged that the pair of lawyers made more than $6 million from porn pirates using this scheme Gizmodo said in a report.

Its an interesting twist on piracy in which those who are meant to stop pirates from downloading content are now facing legal action. Don’t get us wrong, we abhor piracy but using it as a means to extort folks is on a level of scummy we never knew existed until now.

[Image CC by 2.0 – Darkhorse Winterwolf]