Scams R Us
The latest scam is in today’s Sun-Sentinel, front-page play. People are being threatened with lawsuits for pirating adult videos. It is similar to the suits about stealing music a few years back. In this case, it is also a form of extortion, an attempt to get people to avoid embarrassing publicity by settling out of court.
Now we fully recognize that nobody reading this essay has ever seen an adult film, with the possible exception of everybody reading this, but that’s not the point. The point is that this is just one more example of people using (and abusing) the legal system by filing lawsuits they never intend to litigate. The idea is to get people to pay less money than a full-fledged lawsuit would cost. So they pay a grand, or even less, to avoid paying 10 grand to fight the case.
This hits close to home, and it goes back a few years. Does anybody remember the fax machine? We used to fax, as did many businesses, advising potential clients of special sections – restaurant issues, etc. But we never sent a fax without the potential client asking for information. It always, and I say again always, began with a phone call from one of our ad reps, and the potential advertiser asked us to send information via fax.
Along comes Peter N. Price, attorney out of Hollywood, Fla. He threatens to sue us for sending unsolicited faxes to several clients. He wants to settle before litigation, for maybe $500 per fax. We call the lawyer’s clients, who say they had no problem with us, and don’t want to be involved. Therefore, we say no, and accuse the lawyer of extortion, but that means hiring an attorney, and we have the unfortunate condition of having lawyers who are serious about their work. So we have responses, hearings, postponements, the usual B.S.
Meanwhile, we are looking up Price, and find he has a reputation for odd lawsuits. We also engage in some testy phone conversation, at which we are good, having once aspired to the stage. It turns out that Price has an associate whose name is Michael Satz. Coincidence, that the name is the same as our longtime state attorney?
Of course, we advised the state attorney, which cost us nothing but a phone call, and produced no action that we know of, but in the meantime, and the meantime is several years, our legal fees grew to about $10,000. Which is exactly what these scams are about. What businessman in his right mind would spend 10 grand for something that might have gone away for $500? Well, maybe you can call it principle.
How about a happy ending. Unknown to us at the time, Peter N. Price’s fax scam was the minor league of his calling. In 2010 he was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge James Cohn to 46 months in jail, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $1,712,766.92 in restitution. Mortgage fraud. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.