Email scams are nothing new to anyone running a website. Our email clients typically filter out such phishing schemes into spam folders and promptly delete them each month, but scammers have become more sophisticated over the years. Nowadays, many try to mask themselves as “professionals” and can create detailed facades to make website owners think they are legitimate.
In recent weeks, the team at SLS Consulting, Inc. has identified several fake copyright claims utilized by supposedly “professional photographers” to gain access to a website owner’s information, and we would like to take this time to explain how to spot these scams and protect your website’s security.
“Professional Photographers” May Be Phishy
Many law firms utilize online contact forms to evaluate new leads and review potential cases for curious clients. While these forms provide added security steps, such as CAPTCHA, to determine if the case is legitimate or not and filter out bots, scammers can get around these barriers by manually submitting their information and answering security questions. They will typically submit a message via these forms directly into a firm’s email address that includes an outbound link. While most email clients will warn users about opening fraudulent emails, files, or links, it is not uncommon
A more recent kind of scam involves a “professional photographer” emailing a website to demand that the website owners take down a supposedly copyrighted photo. The scammer will claim to own a specific image and threaten legal action if the website owner does not remove the image. Most will comply with these requests, as copyright cases can be extremely expensive and complicated. However, the scammers will also include a link to more information about the supposed copyright and image.
Do NOT click these links.
These links are designed to capture your information, gain access to your device, or exploit weaknesses in your security systems. As a result, you may have to change all of your system’s passwords, update your security features, and ensure your financial records have not been compromised with your bank.
Examples of Phishing Schemes
To better identify these types of phishing scams, we have included an example email below:
This is Melinda and I am a licensed photographer.
I was discouraged, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without my approval, you must be aware that you could be sued by the copyright owner.
It’s illicitly to use stolen images and it’s so disgusting!
Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at REDACTED and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my copyrights.
Download it right 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.”
Another, similar email we have seen is:
This is Melynda and I am a professional photographer.
I was confused, 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 copyright holder.
It’s against law to use stolen images and it’s so filthy!
Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at REDACTED and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my legal copyrights.
Download it right now and check this out for yourself:
If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the document above within the next few 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.
You can see how this scammer utilized similar language, names, and content in both emails to breach a website owner’s security system. While these emails may seem innocent enough with the casual language, they are designed as such to trick the reader. Most legitimate copyright claims will be handled by a copyright holder’s lawyer and utilize a more professional tone.
If you receive one of these emails, you should avoid clicking the included link or opening any attached files. Instead, report the email as spam within your email client so that your client’s internal security features can remember to filter out such emails. In addition, if you have a security client on your computer, such as Avast or Norton, then you can run a scan of your emails to create another layer of protection and identify malware.
Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their tactics and bolder in their demands. They understand that many business owners are afraid of copyright claims and will use that fear against you. But, if you look closely at the emails you are receiving and utilize proper security features, you can identify and avoid such phishing scams.
At SLS Consulting, Inc., we are dedicated to helping law firms and attorneys grow their caseloads and expand their brands. If you have questions about your legal internet marketing strategy, feel free to reach out to us at (323) 254-1510 or contact us online to learn how we can help.
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