The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will be asked to investigate a fake letter from the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) which demanded money from a user for breaching copyright law.
The letter with what appears to be the AFACT letterhead and addressed to one Edward Ross advising him of his alleged copyright breaches was posted on broadband enthusiast website Whirlpool last week.
In the letter, a man claiming to be AFACT's "chief internet investigator" said Ross had been investigated by the Federation and had been found to have downloaded a number of copyrighted materials illegally including Borat, South Park and The Big Bang Theory.
The letter advised Ross that if he wished to avoid criminal prosecution, the Federation would accept a $150 donation to an Australian charity or alternatively for Ross to send AFACT his hard drive containing the pirated materials and the Federation would provide "amnesty" from prosecution.
A number of users on the website were quick to point out that the letter was most likely a hoax, and that it could be the work of one of Ross' friends. However, AFACT is taking the matter very seriously and today said it would be referring the matter for investigation to the AFP.
AFACT told ZDNet Australia that the letter posted on Whirlpool was different to the type typically sent out by AFACT. The Federation said that the letters sent by AFACT contained much more information than the one posted on Whirlpool.
"That's the key difference here — the level of evidence," AFACT said, adding that letters are not typically sent direct to users.
"We normally direct it to the ISPs [internet service providers], so the ISPs know what to look out for; Very rarely would we send one out to the individual," AFACT said.
iiNet is one of many ISPs to receive such notices from AFACT regarding potential copyright breaches.
When the Federation and iiNet went to court over copyright infringements, the ISP's defence argued that CEO Michael Malone believed that the Telecommunications Act prevented it from acting on these notices.
iiNet won the case and AFACT appealed. The judgement on AFACT's appeal has yet to be handed down in the Federal Court.
ZDNet Australia has attempted to contact the user involved but has not yet received a response.