The email, which has gone viral on Tumblr, is some next-level tomfoolery.
Two star-crossed lovers in Florida recently ended their relationship on less than amicable terms. Now, the boyfriend wants a refund for all the money he spent on his ex during their relationship—and he’s willing to potentially commit a felony to get it.
Ninfa Zerilli recently received an ominous-sounding letter from her ex-boyfriend Blake Minto. The letter demanded that Zerilli refund Minto the $2,100 he spent on her during the course of their relationship.
Zerilli screengrabbed the email and posted it on Twitter:
“Please be advised that you owe Blake Minto the sum of $2,100 as reimbursement sought for expenses paid during your now estranged relationship. This will be your only chance to settle this matter before Blake Minto files suit in Small Claims Court,” the letter, which is signed by attorney Paul Hoffman, reads. It went on to say that if Ms. Zerilli chose to ignore the letter, Minto would “further pursue all legal remedies without further notice to [her].”
Zerilli’s tweet containing the screengrab of the email has since gone viral on Tumblr, racking up more than 42,000 notes in the past 24 hours. But was it actually a legitimate effort on Minto’s part to seek legal action against his ex?
To find out, we called up Hoffman, an attorney at Hoffman Law Offices in Fort Lauderdale who specializes in cruise ship injury lawsuits. Although Hoffman is listed as the author of the email, he says he’s never heard of Blake Minto.
“I don’t represent this guy,” he told the Daily Dot. “This poor girl’s mother called me. ‘How can you do this?’ I had no idea what she was talking about.”
Hoffman said that if Minto had actually come to him seeking representation, he “definitely would have turned him down, told him to lick his wounds, and move on.”
Did Minto commit a crime by signing Hoffman’s name to an email to his ex-girlfriend? While at least nine states have laws prohibiting online impersonation on their books, Hoffman doesn’t seem concerned about the viral email.
“I don’t really know how I’m being damaged by it,” he told the Daily Dot. “It sounds like right now I’m benefitting, getting some publicity. If the guy is representing that I wrote a letter like that, I would probably have a cause of action against him. But what cause of action—libel, slander?”
And just to be clear, even if Minto did try to hire a lawyer to sue his ex-girlfriend, there’s no legal precedent for getting money back from a jilted ex-lover. Hoffman put it plainly to us over the phone: “Any money you spend on someone is a gift, obviously.”
Neither Zerilli nor Minto responded to the Daily Dot’s request for comment. But the Internet has come out staunchly in Zerilli’s favor, even dragging Minto’s T-shirt business into the conversation:
Update: Zerilli has responded to the Daily Dot via email. As she explains it, the fake email was part of a lengthy harassment campaign launched by Minto:
“We were together for a year. Not only did he make up the supposed letter from the lawyer, he sent me threatening text messages threatening my family, my home, and myself. He proceeded to show up to my house on April 22 when the incident first took place. I called the police immediately.”