You may roll your eyes when you hear the term 'paid protesters', but they're a real thing and a firm in Beverly Hills doesn't just admit to using them, they're making good money off of providing clients with "protests, rallies, flash-mobs," and "paparrazzi events."
But according to a new lawsuit, the firm does much more sinister work. According to Czech investor Zdenek Bakala, Crowds on Demand has also been running an extortion campaign against him by having paid protesters march near his home in Hilton Head, S.C. and sending emails to The Aspen Institute and Dartmouth College where he serves on advisory boards.
Bakala alleges that Crowds on Demand was hired by Prague investment manager Pavol Krupa to pay protesters and has threatened to expand the campaign unless Bakala pays Krupa $23 million.
Crowds on Demand founder Adam Swart and Krupa wouldn't confirm or deny the allegations brought by Bakala to the Los Angeles Times, declining to answer the paper's specific questions about the lawsuit.
Swart called the claims meritless in an email to the newspaper.
“Not only will I vigorously defend myself against the allegations in the complaint but I am also evaluating whether to bring my own claims against Mr. Bakala,” Swart said.
Crowds on Demand isn't the only outfit out there that hires paid protesters, but they are the most open about what they do.