Two lawyers were charged Friday with a "massive extortion scheme" in which they uploaded X-rated films to file-sharing sites, sued the people who downloaded them — and collected millions from victims who feared public humiliation, prosecutors said.
Paul Hansmeier and John Steele actually produced some of the pornography, solely for the purpose of copyrighting it so they could file "sham lawsuits" used to shake down their targets, Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said.
"The conduct of these defendants was nothing short of outrageous," Luger said at a news conference hours after Hansmeier and Steele were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering and perjury.
"Everything about their practice of law was fraudulent," Luger said, according to NBC News.
In previous litigation the two have denied any fraud.