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Case study: Business owner gets demanding email

A client (who is the business owner) received the below demanding email, and since she had done our Phishing Education session, she didn’t click – thankfully. This is the sort of tone in an email that screams ‘SCAM!’.

This is a common scam email to receive, suggesting that you are using copyrighted photos on your website. Don’t be fooled, nearly every time this email is a scam.

Here is the actual text from the demanding email – we’ve replaced the client’s website name and changed the scammer’s email address so no one accidentally clicks on it and sends an email.

Name: Mel
Phone: 12124302084
Email: Mnikon8@aol.com
Message: Hi there!

This is Melitta and I am a licensed photographer and illustrator.

I was confused, putting it lightly, when I recognised 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 copyright holder.

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

See this document with the links to my images you used at yourwebsite.co.nz and my earlier publications to obtain the evidence of my ownership.

Download it now and check this out for yourself:

https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://sites.google.com/view/id003928748

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 informing them that my copyrights have been severely infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t help, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to take legal action against you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

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Pulling it apart

Disecting the above demanding email, it was pretty easy to see this is a scam. While the spelling and grammar is good, the tone of the email is threatening, trying to get the recipient to quickly click on the link (which would have likely installed some malware or a virus).

The whole tone is key, forcing you to not think about what you are actually doing, and rather just click on the link. The link itself was another key; while the location looks like a Google drive and some sort of security system (‘urldefense’), it actually went off to a completely different place. You can tell this by simply hovering your mouse over the link itself, without clicking.

So please, if you get a demanding email that looks anything like this, do not click on anything! Take a deep breath, and send the email off to your IT service provider or IT Helpdesk. 99.9% of the time, it will be a scam and you have nothing to be concerned about.

If you’d like a 30-minute Phishing Education session for your staff so we can show them how to identify a phishing email, please get in touch with Icon IT. It may well save your company many thousands of dollars.

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