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  1. The Department of Justice has made a grave error as several seized Megaupload domains are now being exploited for nefarious purposes. A few days ago both Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com began directing visitors to scams and malware, presumably because the FBI's cybercrime unit lost control of the main nameserver. Well over three years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against the operation. The United States hopes that New Zealand will extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues, but the hearings have been delayed several times already. Meanwhile, several domain names including the popular Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com remain under the control of the U.S. Government. At least, that should be the case. In reality, however, they’re now being exploited by ‘cyber criminals.’ Instead of a banner announcing that the domains names have been seized as part of a criminal investigation they now direct people to a Zero-Click adverting feed. This feed often links to malware installers and other malicious ads. One of the many malicious “ads†the Megaupload and Megavideo domain names are serving links to a fake BBC article, suggesting people can get an iPhone 6 for only £1. And here is another example of a malicious ad prompting visitors to update their browser. The question that immediately comes to mind is this: How can it be that the Department of Justice is allowing the domains to be used for such nefarious purposes? Looking at the Whois records everything seems to be in order. The domain name still lists Megaupload Limited as registrant, which is as it was before. Nothing out of the ordinary. The nameserver PLEASEDROPTHISHOST15525.CIRFU.BIZ, on the other hand, triggers several alarm bells. CIRFU refers to the FBI’s Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit, a specialized tech team tasked with handling online crime and scams. The unit used the CIRFU.NET domain name as nameserver for various seized domains, including the Mega ones. Interestingly, the CIRFU.NET domain now lists “Syndk8 Media Limited†as registrant, which doesn’t appear to have any connections with the FBI. Similarly, CIRFU.BIZ is not an official CIRFU domain either and points to a server in the Netherlands hosted by LeaseWeb. It appears that the domain which the Department of Justice (DoJ) used as nameserver is no longer in control of the Government. Perhaps it expired, or was taken over via other means. As a result, Megaupload and Megavideo are now serving malicious ads, run by the third party that controls the nameserver. This is quite a mistake for one of the country’s top cybercrime units, to say the least. It’s also one that affects tends of thousands of people, as the Megaupload.com domain remains frequently visited. Commenting on the rogue domains, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom notes that the people who are responsible should have known better. “With U.S. Assistant Attorney Jay Prabhu the DOJ in Virginia employs a guy who doesn’t know the difference between civil & criminal law. And after this recent abuse of our seized Mega domains I wonder how this guy was appointed Chief of the Cybercrime Unit when he can’t even do the basics like safeguard the domains he has seized,†he tells TF. “Jay Prabhu keeps embarrassing the U.S. government. I would send him back to law school and give him a crash course in ‘how the Internet works’,†Dotcom adds. Making matters worse for the Government, Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com are not the only domain names affected. Various poker domains that were previously seized, including absolutepoker.com and ultimatebet.com, also link to malicious content now. While the Government appears to have lost control of the old nameservers, it can still correct the problem through a nameserver update at their end. However, that doesn’t save those people who had their systems compromised during recent days, and it certainly won’t repair the PR damage. https://torrentfreak.com/seized-megaupload-domains-link-to-scam-ads-and-malware-150528/
  2. In a decision handed down minutes ago the Stockholm District Court has ordered two key domains owned by The Pirate Bay to be seized. While the ruling means that the site will lose its famous ThePirateBay.se domain, don't expect the site to simply disappear. TPB informs TorrentFreak that they have plenty more domains left in store. In keeping with a global strategy to disrupt the operations of unauthorized file-sharing sites by attacking their infrastructure, Swedish authorities have been eying two domains operated by the notorious Pirate Bay. In 2013, Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the operation that took the site down in December, filed a motion targeting ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative). Filed against Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain, the case reasoned that since The Pirate Bay is an illegal operation, its domains are tools used by the site to infringe copyright. Noting that Punkt SE supplies and controls the domains and is therefore liable for their (mis)use, the domains should be dealt with in the same way that other criminal tools would be, Ingblad argued. Punkt SE, on the other hand, took the position that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement. After two years preparation the case was heard at the end of April 2015 and just a few minutes ago the decision was handed down. After a week-long delay the Stockholm District Court ruled that The Pirate Bay will forfeit its Sweden-based domains – ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se – after finding that they belong to Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij. “The District Court’s conclusion is that the domain names are property that can be forfeited,†the ruling reads. “Fredrik Neij has participated in the [copyright infringement] crimes that have been identified and he is the actual holder of the domain names. It is therefore no obstacle to confiscate domain names from him. The prosecutor’s primary claim with respect to Fredrik Neij should be upheld and domain names should be confiscated from him in accordance with the Copyright Act.†While copyright holders will be pleased that two of Pirate Bay’s domains will be put out of action (they will be seized by the Swedish state), the District Court dismissed the prosecution’s case against Punkt.se and awarded the registry close to $40,000 (SEK 332,000) in costs. “We have received the verdict and are of course glad that the court chose to decide according to our view,†.SE public relations manager Elisabeth Nilsson informs TorrentFreak. “We think it is good that this issue has been examined. Now we need some time to read through the verdict and do a thorough analysis before we can make any further comments.†At least for now The Pirate Bay will continue business as usual. An insider informs TF that the site has plenty of other domains in reserve and will make a switch when required. We have also requested comment from prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad and this article will be updated as soon as further details become available. Should the parties wish to appeal they must do so no later than June 9, 2015. Update: Sara Lindbäck of anti-piracy group Rights Alliance informs TF that the decision was expected and will make it harder for pirate sites to operate from Swedish domains. “Pirate Bay has on a commercial scale committed massive infringements against rights holders. The forfeiture is a clear and positive sign that society does not accept these types of activities,†Lindbäck says. “[in future] it will become more difficult for illegal players to run their activities under the SE-domain.†https://torrentfreak.com/key-pirate-bay-domains-must-be-seized-court-rules-150519/
  3. Developers considering adding a torrent search engine to their portfolio should proceed with caution, especially if they value their income streams. Following a complaint from the MPAA one developer is now facing a six month wait for PayPal to unfreeze thousands in funds, the vast majority related to other projects. For several years PayPal has been trying to limit how much business it does with sites involved with copyright infringement. Unsurprisingly torrent sites are high up on the payment processors “do not touch†list. For that reason it is quite rare to see PayPal offered as a donation method on the majority of public sites as these are spotted quite quickly and often shut down. It’s unclear whether PayPal does its own ‘scouting’ but the company is known to act upon complaints from copyright holders as part of the developing global “Follow the Money†anti-piracy strategy. This week Andrew Sampson, the software developer behind new torrent search engine ‘Strike‘, discovered that when you have powerful enemies, bad things can happen. With no advertising on the site, Sampson added his personal PayPal account in case anyone wanted to donate. Quickly coming to the conclusion that was probably a bad idea, Sampson removed the button and carried on as before. One month later PayPal contacted him with bad news. “We are contacting you as we have received a report that your website https://getstrike.net is currently infringing upon the intellectual property of Motion Picture Association of America, Inc.,†PayPal began. “Such infringement also violates PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy. Therefore your account has been permanently limited.†It isn’t clear why PayPal waited for a month after donations were removed from Strike to close Sampson’s six-year-old account but the coder believes that his public profile (he doesn’t hide his real identity) may have led to his issues. “It seems someone at the MPAA realized I took donations using PayPal from some of my other LEGAL open source projects (like https://github.com/Codeusa/Borderless-Gaming) and was able to get the email of my account,†the dev told TF. While Sampson had regularly been receiving donations from users of his other open source projects, he says he only received $200 from users of Strike, a small proportion of the $2,500 in his personal account when PayPal shut it down. “That money was earned through legitimate freelance work and was going to be used specifically for my rent/car payment so it kind of sucks,†he says. While it’s going to be a painful 180 day wait for Sampson to get his money back from PayPal, the lack of options for receiving donations on his other projects could prove the most damaging moving forward. Sampson does accept Bitcoin, but it’s nowhere near as user-friendly as PayPal. Of course, this is all part of the MPAA’s strategy. By making sites like Strike difficult to run, they hope that developers like Sampson will reconsider their positions and move on. And in this case they might just achieve their aims. “I’ve allowed someone else to manage the site for the time being. It will operate as it normally does but I need a bit to clear my head and don’t want anything to do with it as it’s become quite stressful,†Sampson says. “I think the MPAA is playing low ball tactics against a developer who just wanted a better search engine. I don’t condone piracy, but I sure as hell understand why it happens.†https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-complained-so-we-seized-your-funds-paypal-says-150517/
  4. Less than 24 hours after the site moved over, the Isle of Man Registry has revoked the new domain name of KickassTorrents. Continuing the domain shuffle the popular torrent site will now move to the Costa Rica based domain name, Kat.cr. Since KickassTorrents (KAT) became the most visited torrent site on the Internet, various anti-piracy groups have been keeping a close eye on the site’s movements. So when the KAT team announced a move to the new KickassTorrents.im domain yesterday, it’s likely that several copyright holders sprang into action. The new domain belongs to the Isle of Man authorities and wasn’t an ideal choice for the torrent site since the local registry employs a “zero tolerance†policy towards copyright infringement. Just a few hours after the switch the domain was taken down, forcing the KAT team to prepare a new move, this time to the Costa Rican .cr TLD. “We have been seized by the Isle of Man domain registry. The new domain will be Kat.cr,†KAT admin Mr. Pink informs TF, adding that the new kat.cr domain is expected to go live soon. It’s unclear if any copyright holder group or groups filed an official dispute, but the IM Registry confirms that the site violates its terms. “The domain was in breach of the .im rules and has accordingly been revoked. I cannot correspond any further in relation to this domain name,†an IM registry spokesperson tells TF. The KAT team wasn’t completely unprepared and has several domain names in reserve just in case. And so the Whac-a-Mole continues for now, until the site docks in a safe haven. While the Isle of Man registry was quick to take action, others including the Icelandic .IS and the Swedish .SE registry will not revoke any domain names without a court order. TF reached out to the .CR registry to find out what their policies are regarding domain name revocations, but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response. https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-domain-seized-within-24-hours-next-stop-cr-150424/
  5. It was a place where Kim Dotcom loved doing business but it took just 13 minutes for a Hong Kong court to authorize the seizure of $42 million of his assets in 2012. Now the tycoon wants his cash back, with his legal team arguing that justice officials misled the courts. For many months the New Zealand courts have been dealing with the thorny issue of Kim Dotcom. The entrepreneur’s case has traversed the legal system, with claim and counterclaim, decision followed by appeal. The key topic of Dotcom’s possible extradition to the United States aside, much of the courtroom action has centered around the Megaupload founder’s assets. On the one hand Dotcom has been trying to reclaim his property, and on the other United States-based entertainment companies have been trying to lock it down in preparation for any future damages payout. But as the fight simmers in New Zealand and largely stalls in the U.S., Dotcom’s legal representatives are fighting to reestablish control of his wealth in a third territory. Over in Hong Kong, lawyers for Dotcom are attempting to take back HK$330 million (US$42.55m) in assets that were seized by local authorities when Megaupload was shut down in January 2012. While Dotcom’s servers were being sealed off in the United States and his mansion raided in New Zealand, the Megaupload chief’s Hong Kong offices were being raided by 100 customs officers following allegations of copyright infringement and money laundering. The seized assets are being held under a restraining order but Dotcom’s legal team are arguing that it should be set aside. In April 2014, Megaupload initiated legal action against the government and now its legal team is accusing the secretary for justice of failing to provide a “full and frank disclosure†of the facts when the application for seizure was made. “We are applying for [the order] to be set aside because the court has misrepresented the true position,†Dotcom lawyer Gerard McCoy SC told SCMP yesterday. In a feature that has become a hallmark of the pre-shutdown activity surrounding Megaupload, the Hong Kong restraining order was made ex parte, meaning that the defendants in the case were not allowed to put their side of the story. Dotcom’s lawyers say that in such circumstances the prosecution is under obligation to exercise additional caution “Did the secretary for justice put his cards on the table face up? This application is a clear example of the duty either being ignored or simply misunderstood,†McCoy said. According to the lawyer the prosecution deliberately withheld crucial information from the court when applying for the restraining order, not least the fact that Megaupload could not be served with a criminal complaint in the United States as it did not have a US mailing address. “None of this was ever brought to the attention of the judge. It was all put to one side and never raised,†McCoy said. In an interview with TorrentFreak in December 2011 before the raid, Dotcom spoke warmly of Hong Kong. “I should write a book about doing business in Hong Kong, that’s how good it is,†he said. “People there leave you alone and they are happy for your success.†But according to McCoy, one month later the fate of Dotcom, his co-defendants, and his Megaupload empire was sealed in a matter of minutes. “In about six or seven minutes, the applicant has dealt with the position of nine defendants and managed to freeze a massive amount of money. There is not one word about Megaupload, not a jot, not a tittle,†he told the court. If the case goes in Dotcom’s favor there could be big implications for the entrepreneur. Not only could he regain tens of millions of dollars in wealth, but he could also be in a position to file a multi-billion dollar civil claim for damages. Before its shutdown, Megaupload was valued at a cool two billion dollars. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  6. The New Zealand Court of Appeal has ruled that local police must return clones of the devices that were seized from Kim Dotcom during the 2012 raid. The Court argues that Dotcom and his colleagues should be able to have access to the information in preparation for the extradition hearings. January 2012, New Zealand Police carried out the largest ever action against individuals accused of copyright infringement. The raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion was requested by United States authorities who are now trying to extradite the Megaupload founder and several of his colleagues. Despite protests from Dotcom about the legitimacy of the search warrants, the raid was found to be legal earlier this year. However, that doesn’t mean that all seized property can be kept from the New Zealand-based entrepreneur. Today the New Zealand Court of Appeal ruled that clones of the seized electronic devices should be returned to Dotcom and his co-defendants “as soon as reasonably practicable.†Last month the prosecution explained that the data hadn’t yet been handed over because some of it was encrypted, making it impossible for police to verify and investigate its contents. In its ruling today, the Court of Appeal respects this hesitation but noted that all non-encrypted data should be returned. The rest can follow after the defendants give up their encryption passwords to two nominated police officers. Previously the Court of Appeal ruled that police crossed a line when they shared cloned data with the United States. In a reference, today’s order prohibits the two police officers from revealing the encryption passwords with others. “[...] in particular to any representative of the government of the United States of America,†the verdict reads. http://torrentfreak.com/police-ordered-to-return-clones-of-dotcoms-seized-data-140908/
  7. Ryushare File-Host Owner Arrested – Cash, Cars, Motorcycles Seized Another file-hosting site popular with pirates has bitten the dust. According to the Vietnamese government the operators of Ryushare were arrested for distributing "depraved culture", a reference to adult-related material. Reports from authorities say the site, which at its peak last year got close to breaking into the Alexa 500, generated profits of $6.2m. There are many hundreds, probably thousands, of file-hosting sites online, each serving their own area of the market. One only has to watch discussion on so-called warez forums to discover which ones are popular with pirates. Ryushare was one such site. Whether its operators deliberately influenced that is up for debate, but healthy affiliate and rewards programs certainly made it more attractive than similar sites without them. The site grew steeply in the latter half of 2012, peaking near the Alexa 500 at the turn of 2013. But while the mere existence of a reward program doesn’t signal a breach of the law, Ryushare clearly had other legal problems. Earlier this month the site completely disappeared alongside reports that its operators had been arrested. This weekend a more detailed report from the Vietnamese government stated that police had shut down an operation dedicated to the illegal distribution of pornography. According to the report, Nguyen Duc Nhat, the Vietnamese owner of Ryushare, was arrested along with three others. This led to the shutdown of the site which according to police had been operating 500 overseas servers. The alleged operators of Ryushare Authorities say that during its lifetime Ryushare generated profits of 132,000,000,000 Vietnamese dong, or $6.2 million for those who prefer less zeros. During the course of the arrests, police say they seized two cars, three motorcycles, five laptops and five accounts containing around $355,000. The Ryushare site remains offline and rumors of a resurrection have yet to come true. Authorities say the investigation continues.