How Scammers Are Using Stock Photos to Scare You | Titan Digital

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How Scammers Are Using Stock Photos to Scare You


Technology has changed how we interact with each other; we are now in an age where we are more connected and more vulnerable. Phishing scams have been going on for a very long time, and yet people are still becoming victims. A new scam is circulating the web around copyright infringement, but before we dive in headfirst, let’s take a look at legitimate copyright emails. 

Stock Photos and Copyright 

A lot of times, when people are building websites, stock photos will be involved. These are photos that are only permitted to be used by someone with a license, as they are protected under copyright law. Getty Images, Adobe Stock, and Shutterstock are a few of the most well-known companies that offer this service. Using stock photos from these websites without obtaining a license violates copyright law, so these companies have every legal right to come after you. While it may be something that can be easily overlooked, it should be taken seriously. 

You may have heard of businesses receiving “the letter” from Getty Images. This is a letter Getty Images sends out to people who have infringed on copyright for their photos. Getty Images has a department dedicated to finding people who have not obtained a license and use their content anyways. Typically, the letter demands you take down the image, pay for the damages, and may even threaten a lawsuit. The main goal of Getty sending these letters is to get you to pay a settlement, and some can be up to $5000. 

We’ve Seen It Happen 

Years ago, a client of ours had received the letter from Getty Images. We found it odd, as we have a license through Adobe Stock to gain rights for the stock images that we use when building websites. We found out that Getty Images issued this letter for a previous website that our client used before working with us that was no longer live. That should show how far Getty is willing to go to protect their property. Our client began to ignore the messages from Getty, but we advised them to settle to not allow this to go to court, so they eventually settled. 

This situation ended in the best-case scenario, outside of never receiving the letter in the first place. The only way that would have been prevented was obtaining a license to use these stock photos. Whoever had made that website that got flagged must have not known the potential repercussions of something that, at the time, may not have seemed like a big deal. 

The New Scam Going Around 

With the threat of court and settlement payments being thrown around, this is the perfect area for scammers to strike. These scammers send out emails to businesses claiming that they are a “professional photographer” by the name Mel or another variation of the name, like Melodie or Melinda. While most of the emails have a Mel name, some have adapted to using other feminine names. Here is an example of one of these emails. 

The areas in this email that say <REDACTED> are links that the email included. No matter what, do not click the links! These links do not take you to any website, but they will install a virus onto your device. Scammers will use this to take control of your computer and hold it for ransom or steal personal information. You can also tell that these links by hovering over them with your cursor. If no URL pops up, it is a dead link. If you do this, be careful to not click the link at all. 

How To Protect Yourself 

Now you might be asking, how do I avoid these emails? The only way to avoid them is to ignore them. But then that could raise the question, “What if it is a legitimate email about copyright infringement?” There’s only one way to make sure you’re safe from both scammers and companies like Getty Images, and that’s to have a stock photo license for building websites. Our license comes from Adobe Stock, so we have scam-proofed our practice from these stock image scammers. 

If you need you feel you’re in need of a website, let us know. Our websites come guaranteed with no contact from Getty Images about copyright issues, and you’ll never have to think twice about any scam emails you receive. Contact our office for any information. 


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