Update On "Is Anybody Down?" Investigation And Bumptious Legal Threats From Craig Brittain And Chance Trahan
1. I've now collected all my posts about the vile site "Is Anybody Down?" and its sociopathic proprietors Craig Brittain and Chance Trahan under the tag Is Anybody Down?.
2. If you are new to the investigation, Adam Steinbaugh has a good summary of what's going on — which includes not just involuntary humiliation porn, but wire fraud — at this post.
3. Craig and Chance are now resorting to legal threats. One of them — probably Craig — has left two identical threats here, as well as at Adam's blog, on Wikipedia, and on a satirical video by Captain Obvious:
Be advised that these actions, your slander and screen shots can and will be used as key factors should a case be pursued against you. Your posting, advertising, marketing, dissipating and otherwise disseminating the slanderous materials constitute actionable violations of Mr. Trahan and Mr Brittain's rights of privacy and publicity.
This is a notably, remarkably stupid comment, even for an Internet Lawyer. First, slander is verbal; libel is written. Second, "be advised" is a reliable tell of an empty threat. Third, nobody is "marketing" anything; that sounds like an attempt to fabricate a copyright claim. All criticisms are non-commercial, making all quotes and screenshots fair use. Fourth, you gravel-knuckled troglodyte, you mean disseminating, not dissipating, and that word's already in the sentence. Fifth, Trahan and Brittain have no privacy or publicity rights to be free of criticism or satire, however popular that approach is to would-be censors.
4. Any victims — including people posted on "Is Anybody Down?", but especially victims who were defrauded into paying money into the imaginary "David Blade" — are still welcome to contact me or Marc Randazza, and we will continue to connect you with law enforcement and attorneys in your jurisdiction.
5. A few people have asked me what I mean when I say that the "David Blade" scam constitutes federal wire fraud. Here's what I mean. The federal wire fraud statute provides:
Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.
The elements of wire fraud — that is, the facts that the government must prove to secure a conviction — are these:
United States v. Profit, 49 F.3d 404, 406 n. 1 (8th Cir.) (the four essential elements of the crime of wire fraud are: (1) that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money; (2) that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud; (3) that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used; and (4) that interstate wire communications were in fact used)
Here, the evidence set forth in Marc Randazza's posts, the posts here, and Adam's posts suggest the following: the proprietors of "Is Anybody Down?" devised a scheme in which they would post naked pictures and personal contact information of both women and men. They then posted advertisements by "David Blade," who was promoted as an independent lawyer who would represent the victims and get posts taken down. In truth and fact, "David Blade" does not exist; he is a persona created by and operated by the proprietors of the site as part of the scheme to get people to pay him under false pretenses. He is not independent, he is not a lawyer, and he is not working for his victim "clients"; he is purely an invention to get them to pay money to get their pictures taken down on the pretense that he is rendering independent services. The proprietors of the site promoted this view not only by operating the "David Blade" persona, but by publishing and ridiculing takedown requests and demands sent directly to them. "David Blade" did, in fact, collect money from victims. Multiple parts of the scheme — including the web posts, the communications with victims, and the payments — forseeably used interstate wire communications. Now that the proprietors of the site have abandoned the David Blade persona and changed "The Takedown Lawyer" to the "Takedown Hammer," they are simply extending the fraud scheme by slightly different means, as they are still advertising that "our independent third party team can issue a successful content removal request on your behalf, guaranteeing that your content will be removed ASAP," when in truth and in fact "The Takedown Hammer" is not an independent third party team at all, but is another persona of the "Is Anybody Down?" site.
That's wire fraud. It's also a violation of fraud statutes in every state from which victims have paid "David Blade."
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