I have been contacted by a couple of clients lately that have received emails warning them that they have copyrighted images on their website. Some have received an email directly, and others have received the message through the contact form on their website. The person writing the email states that the images belong to them personally and that the message is “official notice”.
One client forwarded the email to me to review. I took one look and INSTANTLY new it was a phishing scam. Let me share what I saw that alerted me so you can be on the lookout too.
Hi! [SERIOUSLY, no one who is threatening legal action is going to start the conversation with “Hi!”]
My name is Tracy.
Your website or a website that your company hosts [Boiler plate! Which is it, a website or a webhost?] is violating the copyrighted images owned by me personally.
Take a look at this document [If you want to know what I am referring to you HAVE to click the link. PLEASE click the link! ] with the URLs to my images you used at myclientsdomainname.com [I know it is scary when they refer to your actual domain name, but they were on the website filling out the contact form so that is a no brainer] and my earlier publication to obtain the proof of my copyrights.
Download it now and check this out for yourself [Again, PLEASE click the link]:
[ LONG, LONG, LONG URL]
I think that you willfully infringed my rights under 17 U.S.C. Sec. 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damage as high as $130,000 as set forth in Sec. 504 (c)(2) of the Digital millennium copyright act (DMCA) therein.
This message is official notice. [Who gives “official notice” through a contact form? How could you even prove the message was delivered?] I demand the removal of the infringing materials referenced above. Please take note as a service provider [Boiler plate again. The DMCA defines a “service provider” as “an entity offering the transmission, routing, or providing of connections for digital online communications… a webhost not a website owner], the Dmca demands you, to eliminate or deactivate access to the copyrighted materials upon receipt of this notice. If you don’t cease the use of the above mentioned copyrighted materials a lawsuit can be started against you.
I have a strong belief that use of the copyrighted materials referenced above [PLEASE click the link!] as allegedly violating is not permitted by [What? Bad grammar always trips them up] the legal copyright owner, its agent, or the laws.
I declare, under consequence of perjury, that the information in this letter is correct and that I am currently the legal copyright proprietor or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner [She already said she was the personal owner] of an exclusive and legal right that is presumably violated.
Best regards, [🙄]
So the moral of the story is: “Read once, twice, three times before even thinking about clicking a link. When in doubt I never mind taking a look for you!