[For background information about this, start here: Explanation of Text Message Scams]
After John Yantis wrote this great piece in the AZ Republic, I was pretty sure I was done writing about JAWA and Jason Hope. I figured now that the AZ Republic is on it, I can move on. Then towards the end of last week, two amazing and unfathomable events occurred:
First, I received this 7-page cease and desist letter from one of Jason Hope's lawyers. The letter claims the following about my recent blog posts covering the Verizon lawsuit against JAWA and Jason Hope:
I don't know much about legal terms and I'm not quite sure what all that means, but I'm pretty sure the above accusations are not good. As it turns out, I might be a criminal according to their letter. In fact, Mr. Enrico Schaefer (from TraverseLegal, the Lawyer representing JAWA and Jason) is quite convinced that I am in fact a criminal and that my reason for writing about text messaging scams is just to cover up my own crimes. Check it out:
Let me get this straight...to cover up my own unlawful activities, they are arguing that I am going around and accusing random innocent rich people of scams? Geez. Now, I'm really offended. Not about the accusations of being a criminal, but about the accusation of being the dumbest criminal on the planet. I mean what kind of criminal would go around accusing random innocent rich people of pulling scams?
So what does Mr. Schaefer claim are my unlawful activities? Well, shit! There is a whole laundry list of them. Here is a sampling:
Mr. Schaefer lists 9 such hideous crimes!
Seriously dude? You think I'm writing about JAWA and Jason hope because I want to cover up my crimes for registering domain names? This is the best you could come up with? I mean you went through all the trouble of investigating me and the worst dirt that you could come up with is that I own the domain name PhotoDrop.com? And furthermore, you seriously think that PhotoDrop.com is in trademark violation for Adobe's PhotoShop? I especially love my top crime: registering the domain MacBugTracker.com. All of your research didn't show you that I have a software company, Axosoft, that makes Bug Tracking Software? What are you going to expose next? That I received a parking ticket in 1998? God, I wish I was writing this in text messages, just so I could write "LOL". Oooh, but that LOL might cost me $9.99 per month for the rest of my life if I sent it to one of your client's scam numbers.
The second thing that happened is that on Friday of last week, as some of our readers noticed, the AZDisruptors.com site mysteriously went offline. What!?!? How did that happen? It turns out that Mr. Schaefer took it on himself (or maybe he acted at the direction of his clients) to contact the hosting provider of AZ Disruptors, SquareSpace.com, and told them that they need to pull down our web site. Here is the kicker: SquareSpace actually complied with their request!
Now, I'm a HUGE fan of SquareSpace. These guys have done a phenomenal job of creating an easy-to-use blogging engine. It's truly an awesome product. So much so that they successfully raised $38.5 Million recently from Accel and Index Ventures. But here is what really pisses me off about Square Space: with just one random nastygram that they received from a lawyer, they took down my site without even contacting me first. They took it down and emailed me about it. Are you kidding me? That's all it takes to take down a site hosted on Square Space? Send a nastygram and bam! Apparently you can take down any Square Space hosted site with just a letter! No need to do a DoS attack on them. So much for Square Space's incredible infrastructure.
As I write this, the site is still hosted on Square Space because I re-enabled my content and argued back with Square Space's support team. They haven't responded to my numerous emails and my request to get a call back, but if the site mysteriously disappears one day, you'll know why. It might take us a day or two to get it back up and running on a different hosting provider.
(SquareSpace, if you are listening, you should call me - your support team has my number)
JAWA and Jason Hope's Demands
So what does Mr. Schaefer and his clients demand that I do? Here is a list of their demands:
Is that all?
And what do I get in return? Nothing! In fact, they intend to reserve the right to sue me at anytime in the future. These guys are not the best negotiators. I'm a little disappointed:
I'm ashamed to admit it, but I have to be honest here: I had to lookup what "panopoly" meant because I was pretty sure they weren't talking about Tom Cruise's ex-girlfriend. It turns out, there is no such word, but Google recommends panoply, which means what you would expect it to mean in context. It's a frivolous word. Saying "our clients reserve their full rights" would have had the same meaning, but if you're going to throw in a fancy word, at least spell it right.
So, of course, I had to go and find myself a good lawyer. Fortunately for me, on a recent trip to China with the AZ Tech Council, I happened to meet Jonathan Frutkin. Jon is brilliant and he probably even knows what panoply means. I bet he could even spell it! Check out his official response to the 7-page ramblings of JAWA's lawyers. I absolutely love the opening lines.
It's pretty pathetic that a scam artist with money can usually shut up the vast majority of people with such crazy, far-reaching and false accusations. From what I hear, this isn't the first time these people have tried to shut someone up and if I comply with their demands, it most certainly won't be the last. I didn't seek out to write about text message scams. It fell into my lap and I couldn't believe nobody was writing about it. Then I found out I was a victim. You could almost say that this story chose me. The stars were aligned and here I am. I'm not going away and I'm not about to retract my posts and say I was wrong, unless...
It struck me the other day that JAWA and the network of companies listed in the Verizon lawsuit have MILLIONS of customers! If in fact they are not involved in any sort of scam, then the vast majority of those customers must be happy customers who are knowingly and willingly paying $9.99 every single month on their cell phone bills. So I have an offer to make...
I WILL DO ALL OF MR. SCHAEFER'S ABOVE DEMANDS AND I will record a personal apology video and promote the video on every domain I own (including MacBugTracker.com), under the following conditions:
- JAWA Provide access to only 500 randomly chosen customers from the millions of JAWA customers who have been charged $9.99 per month on their phone bill. Of course, to alleviate concerns of tampering by either side, we would use a 3rd party polling company for the customer sampling. The assumption here is that there are Millions or more JAWA customers based on JAWA's response to the Verizon lawsuit.
- The 3rd Party Polling company will then poll the 500 randomly chosen JAWA Text messaging customers to see if they are happy with the services that JAWA has been providing them through text messaging and the fees they have been charged on their phone bill
If only 25% of the 500 randomly polled JAWA customers acknowledge that they have knowingly been paying for JAWA's services and that they are happy with it, I will apologize profusely. Of course, the BS lawsuit threats would also have to be dropped, but the idea here is that if JAWA is in fact a company with MILLIONS of happy customers, it should be relatively easy to verify. I'm setting the bar unbelievably low too. If just 1 out of 4 customers are knowingly paying for JAWA's services, I will gladly eat my words!
And here is the best part, I'll pay for the whole test!
What do you say?
P.S. Mr. Schaefer, the next time you think you've found a person who is a criminal, as you say I am, instead of trying to bargain with them, try exposing their crimes so they stop doing them.