Scammers use photo copyrights to scare you

You never know how scammers are going to target you. They will throw tons of crazy tactics at you to try and rip you off. A recent example is when criminals targeted Instagram users with false copyright claims.

The private messages are believed to have come from the photo-sharing app’s Copyright Help Center, which described the issue. But when users logged in via the fake link to dispute the claims, scammers captured their details and hijacked their accounts.

Unfortunately, criminals are targeting people with copyright claims again – this time with a twist. Read on to learn how this scam works and what you can do about it.

Here’s the backstory

The previous version of this scam informed Instagram users that some of their photos were subject to copyright claims. But in a new twist, criminals are now sending copyright infringement notices to anyone using free images or stock photos.

But unlike other scams, the criminals in this one don’t want money. Instead, they want the offending website or person to link back to the “original” site the image came from. It gets a bit complicated, but Swedish photography magazine Kamera & Bild recently received one of the false copyright claims

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The publication received an email believed to have come from lawyers representing an online surf equipment store claiming that a used image was of the store. Instead of demanding financial compensation, the lawyers insisted that Kamera & Bild post a link and correct source reference on its website.

By doing this, a substantial website with thousands of monthly users would see the link to the surf shop. The store would eventually rank much higher in search results thanks to Google’s algorithms, and the owners never spent a dollar on SEO tools.

Before giving in to the question, the publication did some digging. While it legally downloaded the image from a stock photography website, the actual photographer never did. How the photo ended up on a stock photo site is a mystery, but neither the surf shop nor the lawyers own the photo or copyright.

What can you do about it?

If you receive a claim like this on Instagram, it’s best to ignore it. If you took the photo and uploaded it, there’s no legal reason to challenge the copyright. The same advice applies to website owners. If you obtained an image legitimately, it cannot be claimed.

Here are some tips for staying safe:

If you receive a copyright claim via email or text message, do not click on links or attachments to view “the evidence.” For example, one tech website received such a claim and found that the link to proof of copyright infringement was an attempt to install malware. Use reputable websites like Unsplash and Dream time when looking for free images. Tap or click here to access free high-quality images for any project. Don’t blindly yield to the demands of an alleged attorney. In many cases, the attorney, client, and claim are fake.

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