Over the past two weeks, we’ve had a couple of customers get in touch about an email. Unfortunately, it’s a scam, but a pretty sophisticated one, from someone often called ‘Mel’ or ‘Mellie’ or something similar.
They claim copyright infringement, and it seems pretty legit. But don’t worry, it’s not, and whatever you do, don’t click the link.
The email arrives via your website contact form, accuses you of copyrighted website images and asks you to click on a link to see the list of images that are in violation (Spoiler - DON’T). The writer then threatens to file a complaint to your hosting company and sue you.
The scammer often claims to be a:
• Qualified illustrator
• Professional photographer
• Licenced photographer
• Experienced photographer and illustrator
‘Mel’ could be… Melinda, Melisha, Melissa, Melea, Melaina, Melane (see a trend here?).
The goal of this scam is to scare you into thinking it’s a legit copyright infringement and get you to click the link.
Here’s an example of the one we received:
This is Mel and I am a licensed photographer and illustrator.
I was discouraged, mildly speaking, when I recognised my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without an owner's license, you should be aware that you could be sued by the copyright holder.
It's unlawful to use stolen images and it's so low!
Here is this document with the links to my images you used at (they inserted the website link here) and my earlier publications to get the evidence of my ownership.
Download it now and check this out for yourself:
(here’s where they had a link to what appeared to be a Google Drive)
If you don't get rid of the images mentioned in the document above within the next few days, I'll file a complaint against you to your hosting provider informing them that my copyrights have been severely infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.
And if it doesn't help, trust me I am going to report and sue you! And you won't receive the second notice from me.
Don’t click the link in the Phishing Email
Clicking the link may take you to a file to download or to a website that may allow the hacker to seize control of your device. It might take you to a phishing page where it asks you to enter more information (spoiler alert, that’s another DON’T).
We’ve written an article in the past about how to spot a Phishing email, but this one is a bit of a goodie. Here’s a quick recap of some things to look out for:
• Awkward grammar
• Bad spelling
• The URL link when you hover over is very different from the text
• There’s an unsolicited attachment
• The email is threatening or intimidating
Thanks to those who got in touch with us about the scam and please get in touch if you are at all concerned.