Grant Shapps-linked company shuts site in face of criminal complaint

A shadowy company linked to Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has stopped marketing software designed to infringe copyright after a complaint to criminal prosecutors. The move comes in the wake of a letter from Labour MP Steve McCabe to the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, and the Metropolitan Police, asking for the firm to be investigated for possible fraud and copyright violations.

The TrafficPaymaster software, sold by Shapps-linked How To Corp, generates potentially large levels of advertising revenue by “scraping” content from other websites in order to attract internet traffic. But visitors to are now asked for a username and password — suggesting that the company has stopped actively marketing the product, opting to serve only its existing user base.

With pressure growing on the Tory chairman — who was appointed less than two weeks ago — a Labour source told Scrapbook:

“We want to hear the views of the Crown Prosecution Service as soon as possible.”

Shapps has thus far dodged the bullet by virtue of transferring ownership of How To Corp to his wife before he became a minister. But eyebrows have been raised at the credibility of this ruse — given that Belinda Shapps has described herself as a “social media novice”.

Shapps is suspected of continued involvement with the outfit using the pseudonyms “Michael Green” and  “Sebastian Fox”.


  1. Richard
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    As we all know, shutting a site doesn’t mean it is not retrievable from the web. Roll on the prosecution.

  2. Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Changes were also made recently to prevent any access to the ’20/20 challenge’ site, including any versions in the WayBack Machine.

    (Don’t worry; I saved a copy.)

  3. Posted September 17, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Also, if you take a look via this search, on TrafficPaymaster they have mainly removed the main/default page. Plenty of other pages remain:

  4. Major Plonquer
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Nowhere to hide. The irony of all this is that he’s going to get done by Google’s “website cache” which (a) keeps copies of all Internet websites over time and (b) is itself technically the biggest copyright infringer on the planet.

  5. Posted September 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink


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