1) πράττω here has the fourth sub-meaning of II listed in Middle Liddell
: be busy with. The crowd was busy with other matters.
2) the overall meaning: You would have to read the whole text from which yours is adapted to get the meaning. You can find it here
(starting at 7,24) and a translation I haven't checked here
(both from this
Basically this is part of a story someone is relating to the author. A rather poor man and his brother, both hunters, live with their wives in two huts near a very dangerous cape (cape Kafireas
). The land used to belong to a rich man the emperor had executed; the hunters' fathers, not having anywhere else to go, made their huts there and lived off the land (I'm summarizing a lot here). This land though is public land. Someone comes over and demands they pay.
(This is where your text begins). This someone takes one of the hunters to the city and starts accusing the poor fellow because he lives in and off public land without paying for it or having been granted use of the land. Since accusing two poor fellows is, apparently, not enough for their accuser, he claims they are extremely wealthy and that he (the hunter) is dressed in skins to fool the people into thinking him poor. To make matters worse, he accuses him and his brother of profiting from the ship-wrecks in cape Kafireas (in fact in the original he doesn't stop at them salvaging the ship-wrecks; he goes on to claim that they light fires to falsely lead ships into smashing on the rocks).