Thursday, March 17, 2022

Watch Me Unravel an Email Scam

As you know, I am a huge advocate for teaching students and teachers to respect copyright. To that end I always advocate for using your own media or media that is in the public domain whenever possible. So when an email with the subject line "DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice" landed in my inbox this morning, I immediately opened it. It turned out to be the second attempt by the same person to scam/ threaten me into linking to a website. 

I outlined the basics of a similar scam a couple of years ago. In short, the person emails you to say that you are using an image in violation of their copyright or that of someone they represent (in this case the person was claiming to be an attorney). They then say that you have to link to a particular website within seven days or they will pursue some kind of legal action. 

I was in a particularly bad mood this morning when I received this email so I decided to fight fire with fire. I did a little research on the person who claimed to be an attorney and then told her to get lost! If you're interested in the whole process that I went through, here's the video I made to explain it

In the video you'll see me do the following:

  • Identify the fairly obvious red flags in the email.
  • Show the original image as found here on Pixabay. 
  • Conduct an email trace (this video shows you all the steps). 
  • Uncover that the "law firm" doesn't actually exist. 
  • Discover that the "attorney" probably isn't even a real person. 
  • Conduct a WHOIS look up. 
  • Use the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to view changes in a website.


Applications for Education
If you maintain a website for your classroom, school, or extracurricular club, this is a scam that you might land in your inbox one day. I see it a few times a year and usually just trash the email without a second thought. Today, I was in a particularly grumpy mood and decided to try to turn this scam into a lesson. 


Resources on Copyright