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.