Editor’s Note 4/26/23, 5:10 pm: This article has been updated to include new information on the case, including expanded statements from Wizards of the Coast. It is a developing story and will continue to be updated.
According to Dan Cannon, a YouTuber known as oldschoolmtg, Magic: The Gathering publisher Wizards of the Coast sent Pinkerton agents to his home in order to retrieve a selection of unreleased cards from the latest Magic: The Gathering set.
While the Magic expansion March of the Machine: The Aftermath was supposed to be revealed at the beginning of May, Cannon somehow acquired a selection of boosters and showed them on his YouTube channel, resulting in the reveal of around 75% of the limited release set.
Within a week, Cannon says, Pinkerton Agents 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, he says.
According to Wizards of the Coast, the company sent an investigator “as part of an investigation into the unauthorized distribution and disclosure of embargoed product,” and only after “several phone calls went unanswered.” The investigator, the company says, “visited him and asked that he reach out to us as part of our investigation and return the embargoed product and packaging. He agreed to do both. We are replacing all of the unreleased product with the product that he intended to purchase.”
In an email exchange with io9, Cannon confirmed the statements he made on the video and added additional context, stating 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 says 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 says. At some point, Cannon alleges, the treatment by the agents made his wife cry.
Wizards of the Coast says it “strongly refutes this depiction of events, which contradicts both the report from the investigation as well as the conversation between the individual and the Wizards of the Coast representative after the interaction in question.” The company also stated that “under no circumstances would we instruct any employee or contracted agency to intimidate an individual.”
According to Cannon, the agents continued to claim that he 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 allegedly threatened that this incident could result in “up to $200,000 in fines plus all legal fees.”
This, Cannon says, was his first interaction with the Pinkerton agents, and that they told him they tried to confront him at his house on Friday, but nobody was home. Cannon 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 neighbors, asking for information about him, 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.
According to Wizards of the Coast, the company “initiated several phone calls to the individual in order to make contact, though we understand why he would be reluctant to answer an unknown number. When we were unable to make contact by phone, local contractors were asked to try to make contact and request help in the investigation, including the return of the product which can aid in our investigation.” The company also confirmed that it offered to replace all of the unreleased product with the correct, released cards.
Cannon told io9 that he believes received these cards because of a distribution error. He says 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 claims he purchased these cards for about $4,000 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.
Wizards of the Coast declined to comment on Cannon’s explanation of how he got the cards, stating that “what happened leading up to this individual receiving the cards is still under investigation.”
“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.”
“I do really appreciate all the support from the Magic community during this,” Cannon said. “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.”
Cannon says he 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 would be a massive over-reaction to a problem that is typically solved with a letter from a lawyer. Additionally, there may have been 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 if these tactics were employed against a man who is literally just some guy.
This alleged 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 for fear of retribution by Wizards of the Coast told io9 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 specialize in supply chains, cyber security experts, and local law enforcement.”
Another source told io9 that after the sheet was stolen, someone attempted to sell it at the game store where they were working. The store immediately recognized 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.
Pinkerton not has responded to a request for comment about these incidents.
Updating 4/26/23, 5:10 pm: Adding additional statement from Wizards of the Coast.
Updated 4/26/23, 4:35 pm: This article has been updated to provide extended statements from Wizards of the Coast and clarify Don Cannon’s allegations.
Updated 4/26/23, 12:25 pm: This article has been updated to include statements from Wizards of the Coast. Wizards still has yet to explicitly confirm or deny that it has hired Pinkerton as their contractor.
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