My Web Maestro

New Malware Trick (Form Spam)

Posted on by Nathan Lyle

There are always new tricks being tried to get you to reveal information or download malware to your computer. The most recent common one we’ve seen has tried to use fear of legal repercussions to get you to click a link (which very likely would install malware or ransomware on your computer.) It’s at this point that we stand on our soap box yet again to annoyingly remind you to never click a link in an email you weren’t expecting. The HTML within emails can easily be edited to make a link look valid, even when it’s not, and once you click it you’re at risk. The best way to remain secure is to 1) have a good antivirus and/or anti-malware application installed on your computer, and 2) learn good habits of behavior that will keep you safe. 

In the recent variation, an accusation is made (submitted through a form on your website) that you are using photos in violation of copyright. When you receive something like this, you can always double check your content on your own, or check with anyone responsible for adding content to your website. But never click a link or download anything from the accuser, never assume they are operating on good faith. (If your website is with us, you can also reach out to us for confirmation.)

Here are two examples we’ve seen:

Example 1

(Click the image to view, or read the text below)

This one included the subject, “You’re not allowed to use my images for [domen] without my permission! It’s unlawfully! This is a lawsuit against my rights! You must remove my images NOW!!!!!

Hi,

This is Melika and I am a qualified photographer.

I was puzzled, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without my approval, you should be aware that you could be sued by the copyrigh owner.

It’s illegal to use stolen images and it’s so filthy!

Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at greatamericandisposal.com and my earlier publications to get evidence of my copyrights.

Download it now and check this out for yourself:

https://sites.google.com/site/***EDITED***/googledrive/share/downloads/storage?FID=6312837600670

If you don’t delete the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I’ll write a complaint on you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

Example 2

(Click the image to view, or read the text below)

Hello,

This is Melisha and I am a professional photographer.

I was confused, to put it nicely, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without my consent, you should know that you could be sued by the copyright holder.

It’s unlawful to use stolen images and it’s so disgusting!

Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at opendoorveterinarycare.com and my earlier publications to obtain evidence of my copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

https://sites.google.com/site/***EDITED***/googledrive/share/downloads/storage?FID=2327200767255

If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the document above within the next several days, I’ll write a complaint on you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

When in doubt, don’t panic. 🙂  If you ever have a question about your website from an email you’ve received or form message, you can forward it to us to help evaluate whether it’s legitimate. The protections in place on your website’s forms should prevent your getting a large number of these kinds of messages, but no protection is 100% effective so it’s likely some will slip through. Most will have some red flags you can see, if you learn to recognize them, though often they are constructed pretty effectively. 

Be safe!

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About Nathan Lyle

Nathan is a father of four, an amateur musician, and an aspiring photographer. He started programming in 4th grade on an Apple II+ and many years later spent much of his college years freelancing website design for college departments. Nathan is a veteran of the Browser Wars, and will gladly talk at length about the changes he has seen in Web technology if you accidentally ask him.

Visit Nathan's Website or View all posts by Nathan Lyle


Permanent link: https://mywebmaestro.com/new-malware-trick-form-spam/
Posted in General News, Security, Spam Hall of Shame

12 Comments On This Post

  1. James Sanny says:

    Thanks for this post. I just had one of these slide into my mail box this morning. I figured, with the download file link, it was garbage but it was definitely more convincing than other spam I’ve run across. This helped confirm my doubts. Thanks for looking out!

    1. Nathan Lyle says:

      You’re welcome… we’ve seen many clients get this one, resulting in our wanting to post about it. Anytime there’s an email you weren’t expecting that has a link, definitely trust your suspicions. 🙂

    2. Assata Knox says:

      I’ve gotten at least THREE this week at work from “Mel”; I promptly send it to the Spam folder and delete it.

      1. Rebecca C says:

        I also got one from “Mel” with subject: “Who gave you the rights to use my images for madmenvacationrentals.com without my approval! It\’s unlawful! You\’re committing a legal offense! You must replace them NOW!”

        One of the best spam mail’s Ive seen! Thanks for having this post to help me figure it out!

  2. Lisa K says:

    Thank you, Nathan! I just received this message on our website form and was a little unnerved, so I pasted a few of the lines into Google and came upon this article. Really appreciate your insight, and the warning.

    1. Nathan Lyle says:

      You bet! The more effective spam and phishing emails will play with your emotions – if they can get you angry, scared, or even better – in a panic… you’re more likely to take whatever action they’re looking for. This one was all about using our natural reaction to getting an email from someone angry with us… of course we’d want to know why they were angry with us so many will click that link. The fact that you looked online for more information is a good thing – Googling a phrase from an unexpected email is a great way to check for more information safely.

  3. Snow Peak says:

    Thanks so much for your post. I should have googled it 5 minutes ago. Hate to admit that I clicked on the link. Anything to do now to protect from the possible malware?

    1. Nathan Lyle says:

      Nothing straight forward… hopefully whatever anti-virus software you have already protected you from any possible issues. I’d recommend doing a virus and malware scan though, using Malwarebytes (malwarebytes.com) and Avast (avast.com). Avast has a free and paid version, and to be honest their upselling efforts can be a bit annoying, but I’ve had the most success with them over other basic anti-virus applications. Malwarebytes digs a little deeper but I don’t think they have a free version, though I think there’s a trial for it. General rule of thumb though – resist the urge to click any link from someone you weren’t expecting.

  4. S says:

    Just received one of these phishing emails and accidentally pressed the link. What do I do now?

    1. Nathan Lyle says:

      I highly recommend running virus and malware scans. Avast has a free version, and I recommend the paid version of Malwarebytes.

  5. Suresh says:

    Thanks for your efforts in warning us Nathan. I’ve had a few of these under the name of Angela Smith come through into our company inbox. I’ve not clicked on the link. The words are slightly different in the email body but pretty much sums up the same threat. Thanks for your post.

    1. Nathan Lyle says:

      You’re welcome. The wording will definitely change over time as they try to adapt to spam filtering, etc.

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