File sharing has unfortunately attracted all kinds of scams over the years. One common way to get money from unsuspecting users is to set up bogus websites for P2P services that charge good money for membership plans and then offer little more than access to freely available applications.

A company targeting the German market is now trying to pull of a twist in this old scam that tops everything we've seen before. charges its customers more than 80 Euros (almost 130 USD) to access their file swapping service for a year - and then sends them letters threatening to send their name to German prosecutors. That is unless they pay the company another 340 Euro (about 540 USD), according to a report of the German online magazine

pic of fastload letter
From the letter Fastload sent to one of its customers. Check out the original article for a complete copy.

Netzwelt was able to get a copy of one of these extortion letters from one of the Fastload customers. The letter states:

"Fastload anonymizes all IP addresses, which means the prosecutor won't be able to get your data without our help. (...) We won't transmit the data as long as the damages are paid for and we receive a signed note from you to cease and desist."

The letter also explains that the customers have to pay for, among other things, 140 Euros of translation costs. Fastload supposedly operates from Slovakia, even though the head of the company resides in Germany. Netzwelt spoke to a German lawyer who had multiple clients that were targeted by Fastload - with the very same letter, making the translation argument more than dubious.

Netzwelt also talked to other lawyers as well as consumer advocates who all had heard of the Fastload scheme, which means the company is probably targeting hundreds, if not thousands of German P2P users with its extortion attempt. Lawyers and consumer advocates alike recommended the same course of action: Don't pay and don't sign anything - the claims are more than dubious.

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