Magic ‘Raid’ Wasn’t the First Time Wizards of the Coast Hired Pinkertons

Magic ‘Raid’ Wasn’t the First Time Wizards of the Coast Hired Pinkertons

Over the weekend, Wizards of the Coast sent Pinkerton agents to the home of Dan Cannon–the YouTuber known as oldschoolmtg–in order to retrieve a selection of unreleased cards from the latest Magic: The Gathering set. While March of the Machine: The Aftermath was supposed to be revealed at the beginning of May, Cannon acquired a selection of boosters and showed them on his YouTube, resulting in the reveal of around 75% of the limited release set.

Within a week, Pinkerton Agents — yes, the same Pinkertons that both Amazon and Starbucks hired to help out with their anti-unionization campaigns in recent years, implying they really haven’t outgrown their roots or their reputation — knocked on Cannon’s door and demanded he turn over all the cards from the unreleased set. He had released videos on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The agents arrived on Saturday morning. In an email exchange with Gizmodo, Cannon confirmed the statements he made on the video and added additional context. He has also uploaded an additional video to give more context and explain further what happened.

Cannon states that “as soon as my wife answered the door they aggressively asked for me by my full name… announced themselves as the Pinkerton Agency (which I am very familiar with their reputation), and said they were there to recover ‘stolen goods’.” After his wife asked them to wait outside, Cannon says that they “forced themselves” at least partially through the door and prevented her from closing the door all the way. When Cannon eventually got to the door he “assertively moved everyone outside” and told the agents that they needed to treat the Cannons with more respect. “They did eventually dial it back and become more civil after that,” he writes. At some point, Cannon alleges, the treatment by the agents made his wife cry.

The agents continued to claim that Cannon was in possession of “stolen property,” and said that if Cannon didn’t hand over the product “immediately” they would escalate the situation to the local law enforcement. “They claimed copyright infringement and said I would face between one and 10 years in jail,” Cannon said. They also threatened that this incident could result in “up to $US200,000 ($277,640) in fines plus all legal fees.” All threats the Pinkertons made continued to lead up to these statements: up to 10 years in jail and over $US200,000 ($277,640) in fines.

This was Cannon’s first interactions with the Pinkerton agents. They alleged that they tried to confront him at his house on Friday, but nobody was home. Cannon has said in a video uploaded April 25 that the Pinkerton agents, after attempting to go to Cannon’s house, began door-knocking at the homes of his neighbours, asking for information about Cannon, and saying that they “had an appointment” with Cannon.

According to Cannon, the Pinkerton agents said that they “didn’t want to call me before showing up because they didn’t want me to have time to react and get rid of the cards.” Additionally, Cannon says he had no interaction with Wizards of the Coast before the incident on Saturday morning. Cannon was given a number to call, and he did so while the Pinkertons were in his home. When he reached a Wizards of the Coast employee they said that they had attempted to call him on Friday, but because it was via an unlisted number, Cannon did not pick up. Cannon says the Wizards of the Coast employee did not leave a voicemail or send an email, but when they finally talked on the phone, they asked which Magic: The Gathering cards he would like.

Cannon believes that he received these cards because of a distribution error. He was not aware of any embargo on revealing these cards, and says that YouTubers frequently open early boxes and are allowed to show off cards early. He purchased these cards for about $US4,000 ($5,553) under the impression that they were from the already-released set, March of Machines; there would have been no restrictions or rules given to him at any point.

“A simple email or phone call from Wizards of the Coast and I would have cooperated,” Cannon says. “There was absolutely no need to send such a notorious agency to my house to frighten my wife and threaten us.” He also said, “I do really appreciate all the support from the Magic community during this. I’ve loved the game since I started playing it back in 1994, and I do intend on continuing the channel and opening more products.”

One of the shocking details of this entire incident is the fact that Cannon is a hobbyist, not a full-time or even part-time content creator or influencer, and until this weekend he had less than 4,000 followers on his YouTube channel. Sending bullish private investigators to Cannon’s house in order to retrieve product is a massive over-reaction to a problem that is typically solved with a letter from a lawyer. Additionally, there was no need to ask for the physical cards back — Wizards of the Coast could have tracked the origin of the product using the foil wrappers that the cards came in or the cardboard boxes, both of which have means for tracking and distribution printed on their surfaces. This could have happened to anyone, and it’s pretty ridiculous that these tactics were employed against a man who is literally just some guy. Yes, he knew he had unreleased product, but unreleased product gets revealed on social media all the time, and no matter what cards he spoiled, he didn’t deserve to have the Pinkertons show up at his house, make his wife cry, and threaten him with jail time. We are talking about a trading card game. There was no need for any of this.

But this incident with Cannon isn’t the first time the Pinkertons have been dispatched to retrieve Magic: The Gathering cards. Sources, who were unwilling to share their names or specifics for fear of retribution by Wizards of the Coast, told Gizmodo that back in 2017, Pinkerton employees were sent out to investigate the theft of an uncut sheet of foil cards from the then-upcoming major expansion, Ixalan. The Ixalan foil sheet has become something of a legend in modern Magic spaces, and while the original response from Wizards of the Coast’s is currently unavailable on their site, an archived version exists.

The company was transparent about the illegal nature of the theft, and Scott Kelly (who was in 2017 the Vice President, Creative and Production Studios) stated in the post that in order to retrieve the stolen property, Wizards of the Coast worked “with a number of groups and individuals, including private investigators, investigators who specialise in supply chains, cyber security experts, and local law enforcement.”

An anonymous source told Gizmodo that after the sheet was stolen, someone attempted to sell it at the game store where they were working. The store immediately recognised it as stolen property and called Wizards of the Coast to report it. Later, the source alleges that a Pinkerton detective came to the store and began conducting interviews with the staff. During these interviews, the agent said that Wizards of the Coast had a lot of these “sorts of problems,” and that the Pinkertons had been used “multiple times” to help solve them.

There are other connections between Wizards of the Coast and the Pinkerton agency. Robin M. Klimek, who has been the Director Security Risk Management at Hasbro, Inc. for 12 years, was previously the Director of Supply Chain Security Practice at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations. The current Manager of Global Investigations is also a former Pinkerton agent.

At the time of publication, neither Wizards of the Coast nor Pinkerton has responded to a request for comment about these incidents.

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