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At Strategic Growth Advisors, we recently read about an email scam that’s going around. While we’re not an IT or cybersecurity company, we do want to pass on safety tips when we hear of something that can be dangerous for our readers and their businesses. This phishing scam comes to you in the form of an email that claims to be from a photographer. Of course, like all scams, that is not at all the truth.
There are a few versions of this scam being used. Often it comes from a woman, but the scammers can easily change the names they use. The email claims that they are a licensed or “qualified” photographer. Both of those phrases are tip-offs that it’s a scam because they’re not legitimate credentials.
The email goes on to explain that you have stolen their images. The email often comes through the contact form on your website. It might also be sent to the email account you have attached to your website. The scammer here is using websites to find their victims.
The basic story is that you have used their images illegally. The email includes a link as “proof” that they own the images. That link is a phishing scam. Do not click that link because it will upload a virus onto your computer.
This particular email scam has all the easy tells of phishing. The language is grammatically incorrect. It’s most likely not written by a native English speaker. They use phrases to sound impressive that aren’t real qualifications or that do not mean anything with regard to photography. They may also claim to own a site that they do not own. In one email we know of, they claimed to own Shutterstock. They also misspell words, like “domain”.
All of those tells make it easy to spot a fake. But we don’t want you to rely on those tells alone. Email scams evolve. The hackers get better. They realize that their scam isn’t working or isn’t working as well as it should. So they improve the email.
We’ve all seen some pretty convincing phishing scams. They use company logos and language that sounds authentic. There are a ton of them. And they’re only getting more common right now. Hackers and scammers are very busy trying to take advantage of the pandemic and opportunities it’s brought for them.
For you, the best rule is to never click a link in an email unless you’re 100% positive that the link is genuine. No exceptions.
The phishing scam can evolve to include any number of messages to try to get you to take action. If you want to check the validity of a claim that comes via email, you should always look up the pertinent information independently.
This email was obviously a scam. But if this was a legitimate email, that photographer would send you a DCMA Take Down Notice. If that was the case, you can file a counter-claim if the image legally belongs to you.
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