If you use an image on your real estate website including in your blog, the following rules would apply:

You own the image or took the photo

You have written permission to use the image from the image owner or photographer

Or you use images from licensed stock image providers

There is software going through websites looking for copyright violations. The majority of the time you will get an e mail or letter from Getty Images or a specialized law firm threatening legal action. The usual action threatens a $10,000 lawsuit or you can settle for a lower amount, usually between $2,500 and $4,500.

With that said, I had a client forward me an e mail that ended up being a scam(Client name redacted)

This came in as a lead through an IDX page on a site we built.

Lead Information
First Name: Mel
Last Name: Cook
Email Address: Mgallery495@yahoo.com

The message is as follows:

Hi there!

This is Melecia and I am a professional photographer and illustrator.

I was discouraged, frankly speaking, when I saw my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without an owner’s license, you should know that you could be sued by the copyright owner.

It’s unlawful to use stolen images and it’s so wicked! (Who talks like this)

Check out this document with the links to my images you used at AGENT WEBSITE and my earlier publications to get the evidence of my copyrights.

Download it right now and check this out for yourself:

https://sites.google.com/view/id0039757773002800/home/drive/storage/file/download?FileID=148989550516492520 (DO NOT COPY AND PASTE THIS LINK AS IT HAS MALWARE)

If you don’t remove the images mentioned in the file above during the next few days, I’ll file a to your hosting provider letting them know that my copyrights have been severely infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property. And if it is not enough, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to take legal action against you! And you won’t receive
the second notice from me.

This e mail just does not read right. Almost as if somebody with poor English language skill wrote it. That was my first clue. Then I ran the IP address this lead came from and actually got their security team on the phone to look into the IP address and see if this person was even a client of that internet provider. I sent an e mail to her and it bounced. The phone number was no good. In fact there was no record of the phone or e mail address online.

I have never seen a scam to deliver potential malware of viruses through an alleged copyright communication, targeted towards the real estate industry. If you get something like this, please forward to me at hays.cj@gmail.com and I will take a look at it.

My next post will address the ADA compliance scam letters that go out to real estate agents.

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