While a lot of the focus of this site is on legal and technical information, it is also important to catalogue the human side of this issue. Here you will find stories from people who visit this site, describing their experiences with these letters and describing how the stress of having to fight a false accusation has affected them, their lives and their families.

Want to submit your story for publication? Please use the story submission form at the bottom of this page.


Adding stress to an already high-risk pregnancy

"The dreaded letter arrived in May 2009 addressed to my other half. Ive been dealing with the responses for her for many reasons of which I will go through as it will help to give a back story.

Firstly, I am a hardcore gamer and in my spare time I am an admin on a gaming web site (I don't want to give the name for obvious reasons). I mention this as I am well aware of Topware/Realitypump/Southpeak/ZuxxeZ they are all spokes of the same wheel.

Most games made by these people have been BIG flops in general terms of gaming.  Having said that,  I do own Two Worlds (the game we are being accused of sharing) on the Xbox 360 and in a strange twist of fate it WAS one of my all time favourite games. I also downloaded the demo for the PC but it totally overheated my video card. Because of this I would have no intention of owning it for PC be it a pirate copy or original.

My other reason for doing all the 'grunt work' on this for my Mrs is the fact  that these accusations are ruining our life as well as causing serious harm to my partner.

My partner is disabled and has many health issues so for that fact alone it is devastating for us both. We have been trying for a baby for 7 years and were told our chances where not too great but finally back in Febuary we got the news we had waited so long for: we where expecting a baby!

Due to my partner's health problems this is classed as a high risk pregnancy so as you can imagine the stress of these letters from ACS:Law is causing risk to my unborn child. Then there is the stress from the fact that we just don't have the money to pay ACS:Law whilst trying to save for the great many things needed when you have a child.

I find the underhanded techniques that ACS:Law are using to bully money out of people sickening.

I'd just like to add thanks for all the work you guys are doing in trying to make people aware of this situation that a lot of us are going through."

"Starbuck"

Fuming

"Thank god for your website! I received my first letter last night and my hands started shaking as I read through it - I immediately called my 18 year old son down and started shouting at him that he must have downloaded something illegal - he was as shocked as me!

After a while I re-read it and thought it must have been a scam as I Googled the names of the rights holders and they were porn stars! The actual letter didn't look much and was unprofessionally written for solicitors, they couldn't even be bothered to put a name at the end of the letter, just a scanned phrase.

My son had never heard of the game mentioned, we did a search which came up with nothing on our computer and he assures me he's always really careful that he doesn't do anything illegal - he's in the middle of his A levels at the moment and is really scared which is the last thing he needs at this time of stress.

When we found this website I have managed to calm him down a bit but I'm absolutely fuming that we have been sent this in the first place - supposedly taking place a year and a half ago and on an internet number that isn't our own - I don't understand much of what they were talking about but I know we would never knowingly do anything illegal - we are a typical family just getting by.

With the help of this website, I am going to use one of the templates today and write a letter of denial and see where we go from here. It has given me more courage than I hoped reading other people's experiences. I just need the courage to tell my husband - he will go ballistic but I'll have this website open and get him to read this straight after and that will give me strength. I just hope that my son can block it out at the moment and do as well as he can with his remaining A level."

"Po"

I DID NOT DO IT!

"I just want to say thank you and thank god for the people behind this site. I have not been able to get this out of my mind since the first letter arrived from ACS:Law in May 09. I replied explaining that it was not me, only to get a second letter on 28/5/09 totally ignoring my response.

I also think I should mention Lawdit solicitors who I have spoken to a couple of times regarding this situation. Their free telephone help has provided me with a great deal of support.

I just want to shout to the whole world I DID NOT DO IT! Of course the world doesn't care so I will have to confine my outburst to this site. Where's the BBC, The Sun or Esther Rantzen when you need them?"

"Ineedhelp"

Hard to cope with

"I opened my letter at half-time in the European Cup semis, early in May 2009. Needless to say, I can't remember anything about the second half, or really not much about the days afterwards. I'm in my 50s, as is my wife. The last computer game I played was 'Jet Set Willy' on the Dragon 32! I've never seen a file sharing program, let alone used one. We're dumb enough to have £5k worth of Abobe and Microsoft business software on our PCs, all paid for.

I could see that it was serious, immediately. It's doubly serious because the PCs in our home belong to my employer - we're home workers - but fortunately we have a complete set of backups and system logs right back over 3 years. Two of the three PCs here are over 18 months old, so they were the ones we were supposed to have used to wreak financial havoc on Reality Pump. My company has agreed to become involved if needed. (Much of the data on our PCs belongs to customers, so it's a big number.) All this means that I know I am completely innocent, but I worry that the only way I can prove it is to take on a very expensive court case. In the meantime I feel smeared, and have to endure lectures from ACS like I was a criminal.

I replied via a solicitor, as my company has insisted on this, and have not had a follow-up letter yet.

I'm actually finding it quite hard to cope. It feels like a cross between Little Britain ('Computer says NO') and the Spanish Inquisition (or the Swiss Inquisition). My own sense of anger and injustice is hard to cope with. After we've all signed up, kicking and screaming, to years of debt to bail out a bunch of reckless professionals in the City, it seems unbelievable that another of our respected professions is set to lift millions from ordinary families without the ICO, SRA or the government taking any interest at all. We're now looking quite seriously into moving to France, not far from here, where the government seems to understand how important the internet is in social terms, not just as a billing mechanism.

My wife says 'I wish everything could be like it was in April', like you wish for your life back after someone close died. We haven't had a nice night out, or a meal in, without ACS sitting right there with us. I try not to bear any ill-will to 'the other side', but it's really difficult not to. It feels like we've been burgled, and the burglars are having us arrested."


"cdx10"

Terrified

"Terrified. That word really sums up how I felt in November 2008 when I received a threatening letter from Davenport Lyons. I was trembling, felt light-headed and completely crushed. Questions started racing through my mind. Have I really done something illegal? Did I accidentally download or upload something without knowing it? How on earth was I going to pay when I struggle to buy my weekly food! I barely ate my dinner that night while re-reading the letter over and over trying to understand it. It made me feel like a criminal even though I felt sure I had not done anything wrong. My mind was trying to think back to the date of the alleged infringement and recall what I was doing then.

After dinner I went straight on my PC to search for the file I was accused of sharing. The search came up blank. I don’t have any file sharing programs so what’s going on? They must have made a mistake. Then I Googled some of the names on the paperwork and found the Slyck forums. I read everything there and my fear started to subside a little. I went to bed that night, but still didn’t sleep well.

The next day I wrote to my ISP to ask them to verify that my data was released. They were very helpful and made me feel much more at ease. A few more days passed and more searching on the internet while reading the Slyck forum made my feelings of fear turn into feelings of anger and also of sadness. I was angry that this could happen. I was sad when I thought of the harm it could be doing to families who were like me, already tumbling into debt worries due to the recession.

I finally wrote my letter of denial. I felt calm again.

It’s now June and I have sent three letters and received four. The last was to inform me that they were considering further action. Each time a letter comes, my fear returns, but it has lessened a little. I’m worried less about court action and although part of me wants to go to court and prove my innocence, the other part wants it just to all go away so I can have an easy life again.

It is the constant reassurance from posters on Slyck that has given me more confidence to defend my innocence.
Thanks to all."

"Billpayer"
Story from an Average Joe

"In early May 2009, I received two letters in innocuous-looking envelopes, sent by 2nd class post. When I opened the envelopes, I was confronted with 2 Letters of Claim. I noticed the phrase 'Infringement of Copyright' and a lot of technical jargon about IP addresses and P2P, followed by more pages of legal jargon. Lastly there was a page on how to pay.

My initial thoughts were: 'How the hell and why the hell have I been sent this?'. Although I am an avid gamer, I do NOT download games over P2P ever. Then I wondered who might have done it to get me into trouble.

I phoned the firm who sent the letters. They asked for a reference number and promised they would call me back. To my knowledge they have not done so. Then I started to worry about how to write a denial  to the accusations. Seeing as I am one of the people who are struggling to make ends meet in the current climate, I really can't handle further debt problems, further stress and worry.

After a frantic look on the internet I found a solitary post on a forum about this letter being sent out. Within a couple of hours there were posts added by many more people. My stress levels really started to rise because I did not have a clue where to start on defending myself. I did not know who to contact or even how to write a letter to send a denial.

I told my fiancée about it and she was initially shocked. She noted it was a civil claim and not a criminal claim and that calmed me down a bit. As the days wore on I started to think about the little things, such as 'how do you actually defend yourself against this?', 'what do you do in court?'.
I wondered if I would be able to keep it together if things went that far. After a week of this my fiancée started to notice a change in my mood. She asked if it was getting a bit too much and we had a heart to heart. I was and am still grateful for her support.

Over the next few days more and more posts started to appear and a forum link appeared. It seems I was not the only one in this predicament. It turned out that this kind of thing had been done before by another law firm. I could not believe that some people were still in the same boat after 2 years of playing 'letter tennis'. This made me feel like I am not alone. People were now standing together and finding information and inconsistencies. What made me really angry is that the company involved in getting the IP addresses is banned in certain countries, yet over here they are still allowed to get innocent folk into trouble.

It was a turn for the better when this website was launched. It has now become a second home of sorts for the victims to keep up to date on the issue. After doing a lot of reading and educating myself I have now developed a thick skin. I am not stressing out over it anymore because people are uniting to fight this whole sorry mess. I know there are a lot of people willing to help. It has been a massive help in the denial letter process. I have sent out a denial and am waiting for my second letter from the solicitors.

I am your average Joe, doing his best for his kids. I don't own my house or have anything particularly valuable in my life except the love for my family. It seems highly unfair that people like myself get accused on such flimsy evidence, and that we are expected to cough up insane amounts of money to line the pockets of lawyers, just because they say so.

Do not get stressed out like I did. There is a lot of information in forums, articles and on this site that will help you put (and keep) things in perspective."


"Richie"

"The only scooter I know of is a disability scooter"

I received my first letter a few days ago in July 2009. I was so shocked and did not understand it so I just kept re-reading it. My hands were shaking and I felt sick. My heart was racing. What was this all about? It said that I had downloaded Scooter. The only scooter I know of is a disability scooter as I have cancer and each day that comes is a bonus to me.

I am a widow and 70 years old. The letter demanded £500. I got myself into such a state that I  phoned my son who told me to calm down and that he would come over as soon as possible. When he arrived and read the letter he was so angry but having him with me did calm me down. I know he phoned someone who told him they could not class this as a scam because they had not received enough complaints. He then sent an e-mail to Watchdog.

He told me not to worry as he would try and find out more info on this. After he had gone I decided to do a little research of my own although I am not very computer literate. I went on to find your site. As I have already stated I live each day as it comes with my cancer. I would just like to say my heart goes out to all those that have received these letters.  Don't give up and good luck.

"notlongleft"

Strength to fight

"My wife received her letter in June 2009, and we went through all of the stress that other recipients felt including my wife not being able to sleep because she is now convinced that she is going to jail. That may sound foolish but she believes it.

Through discussing this at work she was introduced to a forensic computer analyst who specialises in this type of case assisting the local police. You can imagine how relieved we were to meet him and discuss this letter. After studying it he called me the following evening and told me that he was aware of this company and even quoted the amount of letters sent and those still waiting to go out, thousands. He also said that the download quoted was equivalent to a tiny fraction of the film.

He has given us our first and second reply letters plus one for the Law Society, our MP and our provider plus he has said that if we did go to court he would be our expert witness. He also said that, from his point of view, he hoped it would go to court as their case looked extremely flimsy and he would enjoy it. Of course we just hope it ends quickly.

So we now feel a little better. It seems we are at the beginning of what may be a long road but we are up and running.

Everything that I have read on the internet has given me hope which is why I have posted this in the hope that others will gain strength and hope to fight these thieving bullies."

"medical55"

"I feel like a criminal"

"I just received my first letter in June 2009 for a porn film. I was shocked! My wireless system is used by anyone that comes to stay, but I have never downloaded this film. Like many other people on your site I feel like a criminal.

Thank god your site is there to give advice. I plan to fight it all the way and will stay strong as I have done nothing wrong.

It has caused a lot of stress because you cant believe it can happen to you. I can still not understand why our goverment will not pick this up and deal with it. I have not received my second letter yet. Please keep your site going, we need you."

"strong"

Utter horror

"I got my letter in June 2009 and my immediate reaction was utter horror. I am on 5 different kinds of medication for various things, including high blood pressure, so you can imagine what this letter did to me. The same feelings that everybody has described: nausea, shock, numbness, heart racing, confusion, distress, you name it, I felt it. I was made redundant recently, and I'm still out of work. I have debt issues everywhere and may even lose my home, so do I really need this right now?

I was thinking: how do i pay this? Should I pay this? Where do I get the money? But I'm innocent, I dont download from p2p.

So I started digging and I found this site, where other people are in the same situation, most for a lot longer than me.  So here I am, suddenly feeling less stressed, and less worried, though still concerned, my denial letter in the post, and awaiting the outcome. I will be a regular visitor to this site from now on, and we will all fight this together. I have made new friends today, and thanks to all the people making so much effort for the greater good, we will overcome this together."

"Ian"

Not a gamer

"I am am woman in my mid forties. In May this year I too received a letter from ACS:Law stating that I had downloaded the game Two Worlds. I am very new to computing and the internet and I didn't understand much of the terminology used in the letter especially the terms peer to peer and torrent.

I was very distressed by this letter; it looked so official.  After my initial shock I called a friend of mine who advised me to Google ACS:Law.  I did and came across the forums which I have been avidly following, sometimes not understanding the terminology used by some of the posters, my comprehension of computers being very limited.

I suffer from anxiety and this could have really pushed me over the edge if it wasn't for the people on these forums. I would like to express my thanks to all concerned for the advice and support I have received.

At the beginning of June I sent off my LOD. As of yet I have received no reply. Lastly I would like to say that I am not a gamer and never have been."

"crystaltips"

Let down by the legal system

"I am nearly 60 years old and don't play or download computer games. I received my first letter alleging infringement of 'Two Worlds' copyright in the first week of May 09.

I was surprised and totally bemused by the letter and it was soon apparent from what I read on the internet that I was but one of hundreds, if not thousands, in the same boat. I responded with a Letter Of Denial (LOD) about two weeks later. I received what looked to be a standard response to my LOD during early June, photocopied on poor quality paper saying I have a further 14 days to pay £665 or else.

I feel strongly that the UK legal system is letting us down badly over this matter which is just a semi-legal invoicing scheme based on hearsay evidence. I will not pay them, they will have to take me to court and earn their money."

"Mike"

"It is taking over our lives"

"I got my first letter in May 2009. I was very worried and upset, and it prevented us from sleeping that night. A week later, I sent a response. Two weeks later, I got another letter. It had no further evidence and suggested I contact my ISP for information.

The worry and stress about this has affected the health of myself and my family. I had just been told I am being made redundant and will have to find another job. I am the sole breadwinner, so I am already under a lot of stress. Then this letter turned up. I am really finding this hard to cope with and it is starting to take over our lives.

We are very grateful for the forums and the website as they have made us aware that we are not alone and provided lots of information."

"Fedup"

"I would never wish for this to happen to anyone"

"I got my first letter in May 2009. To say I was shocked is an understatement. My first reaction was to pay them, even though I had never heard of the software they say I have shared. I hoped paying them would be the end of it.

After seeking legal advice and being advised not to pay, I wrote back to protest my innocence. I am still waiting for the reply.

The effect of this on my health has been devastating: weight loss and sleepless nights. I have even harboured thoughts of suicide on numerous occasions. My GP has put me on anti-depressants. The thought of having to go to court and ending up paying out thousands of pounds for something I am totally innocent of fills me with dread from the moment I awake until the moment I go to bed again.

I would never wish for this to happen to anyone."

Anonymous

Stress

"My first letter arrived in May 2009. Reading the accusations I had a huge panic attack. I started thinking this was a grave mistake because I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I’m not a gamer. How’s this possible?

I started frantically going through web pages trying to find anything about ACS:Law and to my surprise I could not find even an address or a phone number that matched the one printed on this letter. Then I started to pay attention to all the details on the letter and found many inconsistencies. The layout of the letter seemed unprofessional compared with the genuine legal correspondence that I have encountered so far. The more I looked the more the whole thing smelled nasty. I came to the conclusion that it was some sort of new "Nigerian Lottery" spam and ignored it without any intention to respond to it.

In the mean time through my digging I had stumbled upon the P2Pfreak and Slyck forums and all previous fears and panic, if there were any, melted.  I have realised that I’m not the only one believing that this whole thing stinks. The good people on those forums and the good advice on the websites have helped me a work out how to address this bullying, how to address the legal side of it. And it continues to be of great help in coping with stress, desperation and fear.

After a while I responded with my first letter of denial and I am still waiting for their second letter of claim. I must admit I’m not looking forward to it, because it's causing me a significant amount of stress, it is very time-consuming, and it’s affecting my health. I’m smoking more than I have ever smoked and I’m piling on the weight because I’m a comfort eater and food is my salvation in miserable times like this one! I’m wasting precious time trying to defend myself and deny something that I have not done! There is no reasonable explanation for that. My life will never be the same. At the moment I can’t plan or organise anything like I used to do before. It seems like my whole life has stopped and is spinning in a vicious circle all around this law firm.

There is still a little ray of hope in me that the whole thing will be over soon. But I know one thing, I will not surrender without a fight, because I can stand strong, I’m not alone...

Thanks to all of you (you know who you are)."


"jj26"




Submit your story

Submission guidelines:

Please try to answer the following questions in your story:

1. When did you get your first letter? (month and year only, no exact dates please)
2. How did it make you feel? Did you respond to it?
3. When did you get your next letter? (month and year only, no exact dates please)
4. Have you received any letters since? If so, how many?
5. Have you been taken to court over this? (I know, probably no one ever has but I have to ask)
6. How have you been coping with the stress and upset caused by these letters? Has it affected your health or your family life? How much is it affecting you today?

Please try to keep your answers to a paragraph each (of course less is also fine). Rants or defamatory language will not be published.
Don't worry about spelling and grammar; published stories will be edited.

Thank you for sharing your story!


 
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