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Cybersquatter Faces Jail Time For Wire Fraud

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the it-isn't-true-till-i-see-a-summons dept.

55

coondoggie writes to mention that a Las Vegas man faces about 20 years in prison today after pleading guilty in a case where he impersonated intellectual property lawyers and tried to bully owners out of their domain names. "According to the FBI, David Scali is charged with registering an e-mail account under an alias and then sending e-mails in which he claimed to be the intellectual property lawyer. In the e-mails, which were sent in late June and early July of 2006, Scali threatened to file $100,000 trademark infringement lawsuits against the owners of various Internet website names unless they gave up their domain name registrations within two days."

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55 comments

Thats step 1 (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20545997)

Now when is the FBI going to come down on the real lawyers who do the exact same thing?

And step 2 is... (3, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546301)

Now when is the FBI going to come down on the real lawyers who do the exact same thing?

And do what, indict them for impersonating themselves?

Re:And step 2 is... (3, Funny)

kmac06 (608921) | more than 6 years ago | (#20547455)

That'd be awesome if being a lawyer were an indictable offense.

Choose your target (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546027)

If you're going to rip someone off, don't rip off a lawyer. And if you're going to rip someone off on the internet, especially don't rip off a technology lawyer. Jeeze.

Re:Choose your target (3, Insightful)

QMalcolm (1094433) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546315)

I don't know how successful the scam was, but an attitude could be really beneficial to a guy like him.

"Gee, lawyers are bloodsucking villains who will stop at nothing to win, I better just hand over the domain instead of fighting them in court. They're a LAWyer, after all, they must know the law!"

Reminds me of how a scientist seems much more trustworthy to the public if they're wearing a lab coat.

Proctologist also wear white coats (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546679)

I see a connection.

IANAL (thank Cthulhu)

Re:Choose your target (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20555545)

If I received a legal threat, I'd make sure it is from an ACTUAL lawyer before deciding what to do.

The law makes it so it is not too hard to verify that, a legitimate law firm needs to register with the bar, have a working contact number, etc (also they'd want to it order to get/do business).

Making sure the law firm exists and the threat was actually sent by them would be my first steps. Calling the police/FBI is step 2 if it was fake.

I knew something was fishy in his takedown request (2, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546061)

Maybe he shouldn't have signed it Lionel Hutch, Esq.

Re:I knew something was fishy in his takedown requ (4, Informative)

DavidJSimpson (899508) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546221)

Maybe he shouldn't have signed it Lionel Hutch, Esq.

You mean Lionel Hutz. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Hutz [wikipedia.org]
If you are going to impersonate someone, at least impersonate the right person.

Re:I knew something was fishy in his takedown requ (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20551529)

Why are you such a prick? You understood what he meant, so does everyone else. He got his point across. Lighten up Francis

Darwin Awards - Legal Edition (2, Funny)

evil_aar0n (1001515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546073)

Would this be the equivalent of "winning" the Darwin Awards in the legal field?

Re:Darwin Awards - Legal Edition (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546387)

Not unless they started implementing some very inhumane punishments.

Tor like oatmeals! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546161)

Tor like oatmeals!

There can be only one (2, Funny)

cheebie (459397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546177)



"The" intellectual property lawyer?

It's been just one person causing all this pain?

Re:There can be only one (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546725)

No, they're just interchangeable parts.

Re:There can be only one (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#20565519)

Yes. He must be found and stopped.

there must be a link (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546189)

have you ever noticed that child molesters are often fags too? filthy fucking faggots.

*ash0l3 (1)

Core-Dump (148342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546217)

I really hope this guy gets the full 20 years so others won't even try to do this BLACKMAIL thing..

20 years or only probation? Article says both. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546233)

The article's heading says the same thing the first sentence says:

A Las Vegas man faces about 20 years in prison today after he agreed to plead guilty...

The last sentence of the article says:

The plea agreement contemplates a sentence ranging from probation to six months in custody, but the sentencing judge will make the final decision as to what Scali's sentence will be.

20 years? Probation? 6 months? Oh, well, they're all close.

Re:20 years or only probation? Article says both. (4, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546257)

The maximum sentence is 20 years. Prosecutors agreed to ask for something in the probation-6 months range in exchange for a guilty plea. The judge makes the final decision and he is allowed to give up to the maximum, although they usually follow the plea agreement.

Not necessarily jail time (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546251)

From the bottom of TFA:

"The plea agreement contemplates a sentence ranging from probation to six months in custody, but the sentencing judge will make the final decision as to what Scali's sentence will be."

In other words, the title of this article is very misleading.

Re:Not necessarily jail time (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546571)

No, it isn't. If there was an article in which an armed robber was caught, he would be "facing" at least 5-10 years, maybe more if he killed someobdy. Whether the armed robber gets that sentence or not is up to the jury, or in some states, the sentencing judge. Do you read newspapers, Google News, or at least watch CNN?

Re:Not necessarily jail time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546813)

The wording was just awkward. It would have been more correct to say "faces UP TO 20 years." Notice even in your example you added the key words "at least" making the statement more correct. Not to mention adding the range makes the example a little different. In this case the title would have said "facing at least probation to 20years." The summary should have at least mentioned he would most likely be getting six months max. While it is ultimately up to the judge, judges take into account what the prosecutors recommend. Plea deals save a lot of time, money, and lies. If judges went against them more than often, it would render them useless, and create a world of pain for both defendants and prosecutors.

Re:Not necessarily jail time (2, Informative)

Oztechreich (960585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546691)

There's always hope.

John Zuccarini [wikipedia.org] ended up serving more than a year in prison for cybersquatting, and this seems more serious to me.

Probation more likely than 20yrs jail time (3, Informative)

fv (95460) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546261)

The article title says he "faces 20 years in prison" to be sensational, and maybe that is the theoretical maximum. But the last line of the article says that "the plea agreement contemplates a sentence ranging from probation to six months in custody". The judge gets the final decision, but he is much more likely to get probation than a 20yr sentence.

Fyodor [insecure.org]

rehabilitation vs retribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546273)

How is that worth 20 years?

Re:rehabilitation vs retribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20547241)

"Rehabilitation" just doesn't work, 99% of the time. Major criminals like him really should just be shot as soon as they're convicted but the privatized prison system isn't about to let its billions of dollars per year of public money just disappear.

Re:rehabilitation vs retribution? (1)

FuzzyDaddy (584528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20553487)

Maybe it will convince someone else to rehabilitate.

Just clumsy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546281)

If he'd actually talked to a lawyer before writing these extortionary emails, he could have come up with a more successful wording. We've seen lots of cases where people manage to imply things without actually saying them outright. His plan could have worked.

Re:Just clumsy (2, Funny)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546791)

Yea but no one goes into a lawyer's office asking "hey can you help steal a bunch of shit?" ...oh wait

Re:Just clumsy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546979)

Of course. If he had simply implied that he had invented the internet, while talking to a group of non-technologically informed people, he could have made them believe that they owe him their domain name. He could even have made them believe that he alone is responsible for their great pension fund levels. Too bad people in the know would have been able to call him on it and reveal the truth.

But remember, as long as it's only implied there will be people supporting him since "He never really said that."

Ignore legal threats (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546289)

Which is exactly why you should ignore legal threats.

"I'll see you in court then" is the only sensible response.

Re:Ignore legal threats (1)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546369)

If you personally own the domain, and he's saying he's going to sue for $100,000, then the risk for many people just isn't worth it. Having to pay $100,000 would bankrupt me and my wife. We'd have to forclose, our good credit would be ruined for a decade, etc. Even fighting a lawsuit sucks because you have pay somewhere between $3000 to $50,000 (could be more) in payment to the lawyers depending on how long the case goes on.

This is also why starting a corporation for most things and putting things in the corporations name is a good idea when dealing with other people. It's not failsafe, but the liability is at least limited.

Re:Ignore legal threats (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546389)

You offer to settle once you have those numbers, not before.

Re:Ignore legal threats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546533)

That's terrible advice. You want to settle as early as is practical. You get the best deal, have the lowest attorney's fees, and stay out of the system (it'll be at least four months of your life worrying about it for the shortest of suits to even see a court date).

There's a saying in contracts and business law that if you're in a courtroom, you've already lost (regardless of what side you're on).

All of that is secondary to identifying that the person "suing" you is actually entitled to do so. The story here is fraud and impersonating an attorney. The involvement of the Internet is tangential at best.

Re:Ignore legal threats (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546583)

Blah. People threaten to sue you all the time in business. You just gotta roll with it. When it starts costing you money, they you worry about it.

Re:Ignore legal threats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546373)

"I'll see you in court then" is the only sensible response.

Well that depends on the risk vs. the reward. Even if you're 99% sure it's a scam, if your risk is, say, your home vs. a $100 domain, you'd be a fool to go to court.

Re:Ignore legal threats (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#20548171)

Couldn't contact dough:8010
The web interface is down for maintenance.


I don't get it. Linus isn't usually known for this level of subtlety.

Uh-oh (0)

Maxmin (921568) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546303)

According to the FBI, David Scali is charged with registering an e-mail account under an alias and then sending e-mails in which he claimed to be the intellectual property lawyer.

We are all just one e-mail account away from a visit by the fraud squad.

Re:Uh-oh (-1, Flamebait)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546439)

It's called a complete sentence you fuckwad. A complaint could read like "he was charged with getting in his car and running over a child."

The charge isn't

Count 1: Getting in a car

Count 2: Running over a child

The charge is getting into a car _and_ then running over a child.

I suppose you can leave off the first bit, but it's called "reporting" and usually you want to flesh out details like, say, how the crime was committed.

Re:Uh-oh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546473)

Lay down the meth pipe, and then, real careful now:

  • Get a tight grip around your neck
  • Pull gently until you hear "pop" and can see light

There now, your head is out of your ass. I think s/he was being funny.

Re:Uh-oh (2, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546623)

He's not being charged with two things, he's being charged with one thing. That "and" in there doesn't imply there are two separate aspects to his behavior. The two taken in conjunction constitute a SINGLE offense.

ahem... (-1, Flamebait)

ed1park (100777) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546511)

coondoggie?

It's about time (3, Insightful)

Oztechreich (960585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546591)

We've had several similar threats from cybersquatters in the past. As well as the usual imposters trying to get us to transfer domain registrations.

This sort of thing deserves closer policing. It is a drain on the time of registrars and registrants alike to have to deal with these sorts of charlatans.

_7Ep!. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20546843)

Have an IRC client Profi7s without or make loud noises er@rors. Future I

I say throw the book at him (2, Funny)

adona1 (1078711) | more than 6 years ago | (#20546933)

Impersonating a lawyer is bad enough, but going so far as to impersonate an intellectual property lawyer? The man clearly has no shame. Society must be protected from people as depraved as him.

Re:I say throw the book at him (1)

AnalogDiehard (199128) | more than 6 years ago | (#20547347)

Impersonating a lawyer is bad enough, but going so far as to impersonate an intellectual property lawyer? The man clearly has no shame. Society must be protected from people as depraved as him.

Huh? Lawyers lie all the time. I wouldn't had known the difference.

Re:I say throw the book at him (2, Funny)

MLease (652529) | more than 6 years ago | (#20549855)

Is it worse to impersonate an intellectual property lawyer, or to be one?

-Mike

To what end? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20547485)

What was he going to do with the domains once he took possession? Sell them back to the people he defrauded?

Straight from Gogol's drama (1)

piotru (124109) | more than 6 years ago | (#20547683)

In a little town of imperial Russia, where the corrupt bureaucracy rules supreme, one stranger is mistaken for the General Inspector sent incognito from a Very Important Office.

Nikolai Gogol's "Revizor" (The Inspector General)

Find the analogies, you mere humans.
Both were impostors of the scary overlords.
That this could work tells volumes about the country.

But? (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 6 years ago | (#20548413)

I thought SCOX was in utah....

New York City? (1)

clayne (1006589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20548905)

"Get a rope."

What a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20550369)

What a scalliwag!

Yes, actually. The cat does "got my tongue." (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20554123)

Judge: I hereby sentence you to 20 years in a minimum security prison, to include but not be limited to daily "personal infringements" via "bullying".
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