[ISN] 'Warez lawyer' had double agenda - claim

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Tue Sep 21 05:31:00 EDT 2004


By Jan Libbenga
20th September 2004 

More details have emerged on the arrest of a German lawyer and three
businessmen who masterminded an international warez network and
grossed .1m.

A spokesman for German anti-piracy organisatin GVU told Berlin
newspaper Tagesspiegel on Friday (17 Sept) that the crackdown may have
been the biggest blow ever against internet pirates anywhere in the

The main suspect, Bernhard Syndikus, a lawyer, was arrested for
criminal breach of copyright,money laundering and membership in a
criminal conspiracy. He didn't request a lawyer himself after his
custody, a spokesman told press agency DPA.

Police last week raided the offices of Gravenreuth & Syndikus, a
Munich law firm, of which Syndikus is a partner.

According to German reports almost all the funds of the warez site
Ftpwelt.com were channeled through an offshore company Internet
Payment Systems Ltd, registered on the Caribbean island of Tortola in
the British Virgin Islands, and ended up in a small eastern German
town, Breitungen.

Although hackers discovered the link between Ftpwelt.com and Syndikus,
a posting earlier this year already revealed the relationship between
the lawyer and several illegal sites, including Ftpwelt.com and what
was advertised as Germany's biggest Bittorrent site, Bitfilme.com. A
search in Google reveals this site was extremely popular among illegal
movie swappers.

The domain name Ftpwelt.com was registered by Software Development
Consultants Limited on Tortola, which uses the same postbox address as
New Internet Businesses Limited, the company behind it that registered

Syndikus is also the director of Global Netcom, a German company that
developed diallers for pornographic vendors.

German anti-dialler internet forums such as Computerbetrug.de
(Computerfraud) and Dialerschutz.de (Dialler protection) have often
issued warnings against these dialers, many of which are activated by
closing a unwanted "pop-up" window. Not surprisingly, anti dialler
sites urge victims to ignore bills they receive from rogue dialler
companies. However, Syndikus argued that refusing to pay these bills
is against the law.

Syndikus represents Firstway Medien GmbH, a German firm which released
a hobbled version of the open source file sharing program eMule. The
hacked eMule was disabled, and could only be activated once you paid
for the product. Worse, the program couldn't be removed from Windows
without corrupting the internet connection.

Earlier this year, Firstway asked Gravenreuth & Syndikus to issue to
Marcus Falck - the owner of the German website eMule.de - a cease and
desist letter, demanding that the website would give up its domain
name. What was considered to be a free name - part of the open source
project eMule - had been furtively trademarked by Firstway Medien.

Even more remarkable is the reputation of Syndikus's partner Günther
Freiherr von Gravenreuth (real name: Günter Werner Dörr) who,
according to his own biography, advised the European Institute for
Computer Anti-Virus Research and German Association for Entertainment
Software. von Gravenreuth was behind the much publicised Tanja
campaign against software piracy.

He tricked mostly adolescent male computer users into sending a list
of pirated software to a fictional girl named "Tanja", and
subsequently dragged them to court. The teenagers received a cease and
desist notice along with a request for payment, in most cases between
.1,000 and .5,000.

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