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)
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:
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 15 Comments
thank you for this notice, I just received this scam email and have been trying to contact this person.
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!
They are now using the name Melangelle. Received the same email today.
We also received this under the name Melangelle.
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!
Also got under the name Melangelle
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.
Just got one today (February 23, 2021) and googled this and happened upon your site. Thank you for sharing. also using the name Melangelle.
We got this twice yesterday and today. Thanks for sharing, very helpful.
Received an email like the one described today using the name “Melaenis” through my website (3.18.2021).
The letter claimed it was from “Mel Ortiz” with the email: Menikon627@gmail.com. I appreciate the comment
board and your article.
I received one today and before checking online I did press on the link.
The link took me to a black-white page, and nothing happened.
Am I screwed or nothing to worry about?
You should be fine but I would suggest changing your passwords to your e-mail account. This would be a good time to consider setting up 2FA on your online accounts as well.
Thank you for this information. I received this scam attempt today and immediately figured it was a scam as I have not stolen anything and a professional person would not likely react to their property being stolen in this manner.
I just got this email today. I’m retired law enforcement as a CyberAgent and this one sounded like a scam right off the bat, but I figured I needed to research it. So, first thing I didn’t do was click on the link. I’ll never do that. What I did was call the phone number, figuring I’m not likely going to get in touch with anyone who has a remote idea of this subject. And I was right. Wrong number. So, I too Googled Melynda Photography and I landed here. So my thoughts were supported and I’m so glad others are landing here getting good advice. Oh, I went to my website to make sure it hadn’t been hacked. It was still the same photos I’ve posted…and I knew I wasn’t in trouble since I can still prove I’m the copyright owner. Thanks so much for posting this scam and keeping people safe from online preditors.
Thank you for this info, I got the scam message today as well.