Scam Alert: Phishing Claiming Image Copyright

Beware of this Fake Email Claiming Copyright Image Infringement on Your Website

Reports are coming in from all across the internet about a scammer who is sending malicious messages to website owners via the contact forms on their website. This phishing email scammer aggressively accuses the website owner of using copyrighted images, and encourages them to click a link that supposedly leads to a list of the images that are in violation. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK!

The writer (in the emails we have seen come in) is named ‘Christine’, however others have reported “Melanka” (who also goes by “Mellie” and “Mel” among others). Whatever the name, they claim they will file a complaint with the website owner’s hosting company and will sue them for the copyright infringement.

The Goal of this Phishing Scam

While the end goal remains unclear, the contents of the phishing email attempts to create fear in hope the website owner will click the malicious link that leads them to a file download. This is common in most phishing emails. If the file download is clicked, the scammer can potentially seize control of the website owner’s computer and hold it for ransom. The scammer could also access and compromise personal accounts such as email or bank accounts, and inject viruses into the machine (if your device is not protected by sufficient antivirus software).

The actual Content of the email

Hi! My name is Christine. Your website or a website that your company hosts is violating the copyrighted images owned by me personally. Check out this official document with the URLs to my images you used at (your website name) and my earlier publication to obtain the proof of my copyrights. Download it now and check this out for yourself: I do think that you willfully infringed my rights under 17 USC Sec. 101 et seq. and could possibly be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504 (c) (2) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”) therein. This letter is official notice. I seek the elimination of the infringing materials referenced above. Take note as a company, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act demands you, to eliminate and terminate access to the copyrighted content upon receipt of this particular letter. If you do not cease the use of the aforementioned copyrighted materials a court action can be initiated against you. I do have a good self-belief that utilization of the copyrighted materials referenced above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, as well as law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in this letter is correct and that I am the legal copyright proprietor or am permitted to act on behalf of the proprietor of an exclusive and legal right that is presumably violated. Best regards, Christine Roland