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Phishing SCAM: Fake Email from an “Experienced Photographer and Illustrator” Claiming Copyright Infringement

Dec 16, 2020 | News, Tips

We have been receiving reports from clients about a malicious scammer named “Mel” (“Mellie” in one case and “Melina” in the other) filling out their website form, and very aggressively claiming copyright infringement.

The email arrives via your website contact form and accuses you of using copyrighted website images and asks you to click on a link to see the list of the images that are in violation. (DON’T CLICK THE LINK.) The writer threatens to file a complaint with your hosting company and sue you. This is a phishing email that will work to gain access to your computer and data. It is being seen all over the country. Below we’ve provided two examples of the emails being received.

Hello,

This is Melainie and I am a certified photographer.

I was confused, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without an owner’s approval, you must know that you could be sued by the creator.

It’s illegal to use stolen images and it’s so disgusting!

See this document with the links to my images you used at leadingedgemfg.com and my earlier publications to obtain the evidence of my legal copyrights.

Download it now and check this out for yourself:

LINK REMOVED FROM POST FOR SAFETY

If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the document above during the next couple of days, I’ll file a to your hosting provider letting them know that my copyrights have been severely infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it is not enough, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And you won’t receive the second notice from me.

Hi,

This is Mel and I am a qualified illustrator.

I was baffled, putting it lightly, when I recognised my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without an owner’s license, you must be aware that you could be sued by the copyright holder.

It’s against the law to use stolen images and it’s so selfish!

See this document with the links to my images you used at leadingedgemfg.com and my earlier publications to obtain the evidence of my copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

LINK REMOVED FROM POST FOR SAFETY

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

And if it doesn’t help, for damn sure I am going to take it to court! And you won’t receive the second notice from me.

Some of the professions the scammer is claiming to be include:

  • Professional Photographer
  • Licensed Photographer
  • Experienced photographer and illustrator
  • Qualified illustrator

And the sender is going by names similar to “Mel” including:

  • Mel
  • Melinda
  • Melina
  • Mellie
  • Melisha

The scammer uses different fake email addresses, fake phone numbers and variations on the last name, as well.

What is the Goal of this Phishing Scam?

The goal is to scare you and get you to click the link which will take you to a file download or a website that likely allows the hacker to seize control of your device (if your device is not protected by sufficient antivirus software to block it).

The hacker may then be able to do one of the following:

  • Hold your device hostage demanding a ransom
  • Exploit having access to your machine to compromise your other accounts like email or banking
  • Inject worms/viruses that infect your machine and use it to launch attacks against others

How to Spot a Phishing Email

  • Awkward Grammar: Look for awkward grammar and word usage such as “It’s unlawfully!”, in this case.
  • Check Spelling: Bad spelling is also another red flag.
  • Hover Over a Link to See the True URL (but NEVER click it): Phishing scams will try to hide the true URL to which the link leads. When you hover, you can see the true destination of the URL, regardless of what the link says.
  • Be Suspicious of Unsolicited Attachments: Never click on or download an unsolicited or unexpected unusual attachment. Always be suspicious of this.
  • Don’t Let Them Intimidate You: Phishing email attempts frequently try to elicit an emotional response from you by using inflammatory or threatening language such as the threat to sue you and file a complaint with your host in this example. Another common tactic is to threaten that an account has been suspended or that you have committed a crime or are in violation of an agreement. Always be suspicious and take a beat before acting on any communication that uses threats.

Have you received a similar email via your contact form?

Since we’ve had multiple reports just this week, we wanted to spread the word about this scam since it is using a fairly effective scare tactic to use against businesses. Let us know if you’ve received a similar phishing scam email via the contact form on your website.