Scam Alert: False Image Copyright Claim

Scam Alert: False Image Copyright Claim

Another month, another e-mail scam. This email scam has been circulating for quite some time but I found clients, especially those with new websites can be caught off guard.

You can see an example of the text below (links, and private information removed)

Hello there!

This is Melynda and I am a qualified photographer and illustrator.

I was puzzled, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without my consent, you need to be aware that you could be sued by the owner.

It’s unlawful to use stolen images and it’s so mean!

Check out this document with the links to my images you used at [removed] and my earlier publications to get evidence of my copyrights.

Download it now and check this out for yourself:

[link removed]

If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I’ll write a complaint against you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

The scam works the following way:

  • An email is sent out to the main contact email on the website claiming that images or illustrations on the website are stolen.
  • A link (usually legit looking) is included in the email. Clicking on that link can lead you to a google site which includes a download. The download itself is compromised.
  • The scammer may also demand payment to settle the case before moving forward.

A good indication that this email is a scam is the following:

  • The text used in the e-mail is always identical, it typically features a few things. The text always includes “I was puzzled, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your web-site.” and “It’s unlawful to use stolen images and it’s so mean!”
  • The email will never directly tell you which images, or section of the website they are referring too.
  • The email will never link directly to the image, but always to a third-party website.
  • If you google the name, email or phone number, it will usually bring up empty or completely irrelevant results.

As always common-sense is the best detection against these types of scams and using your best judgement should keep you safe. Legitimate copyright claim emails will usually provide more detail, be sent to your host and come directly from a lawyer.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Annie

    thank you for this notice, I just received this scam email and have been trying to contact this person.

  2. Jack

    Me too. I got the exact same text as a comment in my site. I tried to contact the person in the email mentioned in the comment and it bounced back right away. Then after googling the name “Melynda the photographer”, I landed on your site. Thanks for your post. Whew!

  3. Nicky

    They are now using the name Melangelle. Received the same email today.

  4. Jamie

    We also received this under the name Melangelle.

  5. KW

    Received this email today (Dec 15th, 2020) with the name Melynda. I knew it was a scam just by the language used and did not click the link. Instead did a Google search and found your very helpful article. Thank you!

  6. ST

    Also got under the name Melangelle

  7. Phil

    I got this last week with the name Melane, and then today with the name Melangelle. Both used slightly different wording “I was surprised, frankly speaking, when I saw my images at your web-site.” “It’s not legal to use stolen images and it’s so cheap!” “It’s against the law to use stolen images and it’s so selfish.” as well as a few other variants in the two emails I received. I had contated my web design company after last week’s email, and they said they had gotten multiple contacts in the last month about this scam.

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