Is IsoHunt a Scam?
IsoHunt was once one of the most popular torrent indexers on the Internet. Initially, the site was operated and established by Canadian Gary Fung.
The MPAA initiated several actions against both torrent indexer and tracking sites simultaneously in 2006. Those actions included IsoHunt.
After an extended battle with the MPAA, IsoHunt agreed to settle the lawsuit for $110 million; and Fung posted a farewell message in lieu of an operating website. By October of 2013, IsoHunt was completely gone.
However, less than two weeks a later, a nearly identical clone of the site appeared on the Internet, called IsoHunts.to. Members of the former team insist that this incarnation has nothing to do with their efforts.
IsoHunt’s Binary Client
Long before the MPAA and other copyright agencies had begun taking down one domain after the other, torrent enthusiasts had been searching for new ways to trade files. One of those ways had its roots well in the past.
Peer to Peer (P2P) clients like Napster, Limewire, and Frostwire were once an incredibly popular alternative to web download services like torrent indexers. Like torrent indexers, these programs gave users access to millions of files. On the other hand, they became obsolete with the advent of torrents. Nonetheless, pirates from all over the world have floated the idea of using some kind of Peer to Peer mechanism as a means to prevent the seizure and takedown of websites and domains used to index and track torrents.
When I saw that IsoHunt had what they were calling a binary client, I was enthused. I have always found P2P clients preferable to downloading torrents. Naturally, however, downloading a client such as this from a website such as IsoHunt comes with certain risks. I felt, however, that I was prepared, so I attempted to download the client.
Interestingly, clicking to download the IsoHunt software led me to a different P2P file sharing network that was even older than clients like Frostwire, Usenet. You may or may not have heard of Usenet, but it was originally intended as a bulletin board system that its users eventually began using as a way to share files.
I scratched my chin. Why would IsoHunt’s binary client direct me to a Usenet provider?
Firstly, there is literally no connection between Usenet and torrents. It is, in fact, its own separate repository of files and operates under its own unique protocols. While I myself am an enthusiast of Usenet, it didn’t take a concerted act of genius for me to deduce that this had literally nothing to do with what I originally thought it did.
In spite of these bad omens, I clicked on, nonetheless. IsoHunt sent me to a site called Usenet.nl and asked me if I wanted to “Test for Free”. It is true that most Usenet services cost money. It is also true that they don’t expect you to link a Paypal or a credit card for the honor of testing their services. Naturally, I was skeptical, so I ran a little search on Usenet.nl.
Unsurprisingly, I was treated to thousands of angry people who were decrying the site as an outright scam. Based on the stories that individuals have reported, Usenet.nl is a phishing scam. There are reports that users, based on limited information given to the company, have phantom debits to their Paypal and credit card accounts. This despite the fact that they do not subscribe to the service.
While signing up is easy, canceling is hard. Usenet.nl tells you that you will get 14 days for free, but you end up having to link some kind of payment to the site. This is not true of any other Usenet service that I have ever subscribed to.
For more information on IsoHunt’s “binary client” and Usenet.nl click here.
Suffice it to say, Usenet.nl direct debits money from a bank account that is linked through your Paypal. All they need to do this is your Paypal email address and an account that allows Paypal permission to debit directly from your account or a credit card.
One poor fellow describes what Usenet.nl did to him after they couldn’t tap his bank account via Paypal. They sent him a collections notice via snail mail and charged him all manner of additional fees.
The Real IsoHunt
Generally speaking, when I test a torrent site, I simply want to know whether or not I can download a torrent. Of course, there are other things to know, such as the navigability of the database and the accessibility of new files.
Bollywood movies appear to be extremely popular on IsoHunt. Unfortunately, every time I tried to download something or search for a specific title, it directed me back to download their download client scam.
I thought that maybe if I signed up it would let me search for and download files. Nope. Literally, everything I clicked redirected me to the site’s download client scam.
No further deliberations were needed. IsoHunt is, in fact, not a torrent site at all anymore. Its indexer is inaccessible. It’s hard to tell if any database actually exists. The site’s only function is to funnel users to buy their scam Usenet site.
Given the history of fraud associated with Usenet.nl, one can only assume that they are behind this IsoHunt site rather than a reseller, as I am sure they would claim.
In the end, only one thing is for sure. IsoHunt is no more.