Fake AI law firms are sending fake DMCA threats in SEO scam

Fake AI law firms are sending fake DMCA threats in SEO scam

A journalist has found himself targeted by a fake AI law firm over a copyright-free photo published on his website, but all is not quite what it first appeared as the law firm has been outed as a fake.

Ernie Smith, the writer behind online publisher and newsletter Tedium, took to Mastodon at the end of March to share the first email from the law firm ‘Commonwealth Legal Services’ and the following conversations.

A DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice was first received, with the trademark attorney ‘Will Thomas’ saying “We need you to add a credit to our client immediately,” for the use of an image.

A visible and clickable link to Tech4Gods was said to be ‘required’ and should be done so within the next five business days.

The email says removing the image ‘does not conclude the matter’ and if “appropriate action within the given timeframe” isn’t carried out, they’ll need to “activate the case No.86342 and take action as outlined in DMCA Section 512(c).”

The image in question is one from the website Unsplash that gives downloaders the right to ‘copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.’

Law firm is looking into following the DMCA threat

The journalist then went on to do some checks of the firm, citing the ‘Our Lawyers’ section of the website as including all ‘AI-generated’ photos.

404 Media backed this up too, describing the supposed lawyers as having “vacant, thousand-yard stares” and none of them appear in any attorney or LinkedIn searches. The reverse image search results for them point to a now-broken website called Generated.Photos.

Smith then went on to look at the address which was described as being on the fourth floor of its building. A quick Google Maps search saw the proposed address actually being a one-storey structure.

Screenshot of Ernie Smith's Mastodon post showing the address of the law firm which is a one-storey structure as found on Google Maps

Tech4Gods is a gadget review website run by Daniel Barczak. When 404 Media reached out to him, he said in an email: “I certainly don’t own any images on the web.”

He then went on to say he had been previously buying backlinks to his website for SEO, but said he wasn’t aware of who was doing this or why: “I have no idea; it certainly has nothing to do with me.

“However, recently, someone has been building spammy links against my site that I have been dealing with…

“In the past, I had a bad link builder. I wonder if it’s him going mad at me for letting him go…It’s hard to say the web is massive, and everyone can link whatever they want.”

Featured Image: Via Ideogram

The post “Fake AI law firms are sending fake DMCA threats in SEO scam” by Sophie Atkinson was published on 04/08/2024 by readwrite.com