Scams to Avoid in 2023
Image Copyright Infringement
No business owners wants to be involved in a legal battle, and scammers know that! One of the common scams business owners face, particularly if you have a website, is threat of legal action over a copyright infringement claim made by an unknown entity.
Here is the example email we've received many times ourselves and has been reported to us by many of our clients. The name is always different, and the use a template for the rest of the email body.
Hi there! This is Melanka and I am a licensed illustrator. I was puzzled, putting it lightly, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without an owner's license, you'd better know that you could be sued by the copyright holder. It's illegitimate to use stolen images and it's so wicked! Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at www.yourdomain.com and my earlier publications to get the evidence of my legal copyrights. Download it right now and check this out for yourself: https://sites.google.com/view/REDACTED/drive/folders/storage/shared/download?fileID=REDACTED If you don't delete the images mentioned in the document above within the next few days, I'll file a complaint against you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been severely infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property. And if it doesn't work, for damn sure I am going to take it to court! And you won't receive the second notice from me.
There may be 3 ways this particular scam may work:
- The scammer convinces you to settle and pay them
- The scammer downloads a nasty virus on your computer since the send you an unknown file
- The scammer convinces you to "give them" credit by adding a backlink to their website
You can't avoid these nasty emails, but you can avoid being scammed and protect yourself by:
- Using only your own images
- Getting permission to use any third party image on your website
- Buying stock images from trusted sources
- Using AI to generate images for you!
Google Business Profile Ownership
You've received an ownership request
This is the subject of the email you receive from Google, and although the email does in fact come from Google, it only means that someone, some times for a legitimate reason, needs to access your Google Business Account.
If you have a local business, there is a chance you will constantly get these emails trying to scam you into giving up ownership of your account.
Scammers use this strategy to steal your profile, make changes, rebrand it, and use to either commit other scams, or resell the profile to companies doing something known as R&R or Rank and Rent.
Avoid falling victim of this scam by doing this:
- Never give third parties ownership access to your Google Business Profile
- If you decide to hire an agency do work for you, make sure the agency is trustworthy
- Only give limited access to third parties (e.g. manager)
- You stay as the primary owner
- Have in writing that you will keep ownership of your profile
If you've fallen victim of this scam, take action right away and claim the page back, otherwise the scammer will replace your phone number or domain name in order to keep complete control.
Some scammers have the audacity of legally using the USPS to scam business owners out of thousands of dollars every year.
If you have a website, you need to have a domain name, and scammers will 100% legally mail you, to your business address, a letter that looks exactly like an invoice. Most business owners are too busy to read the fine print, and instead only send a check.
Although we have reported this scam to the authorities, it's perfectly legal to scam business owners as long as you mention, somewhere in this fake invoice and in fine print, that this is not an invoice, but an offer.
Two big scammer are a company named DOMAIN LISTINGS out of Las Vegas Nevada and Domain Network from Hendersonville NC.
How to avoid this scam?
- Take time to read any "invoice"
- Contact your websmaster directly if you have one
- Never send payments to a P.O. BOX
- Only working with trusted registrars such as GoDaddy or Google
Although the company has hundreds of complaints filed against it in the BBB, they're still in business, legally stealing money from unsuspected business owners. Don't be one of them!
In today's age, every business must keep a social media presence.
Facebook can be a great and free tool if used correctly, and many business owners spend a lot of time and energy building an audience that can range from hundreds to thousands of followers.
A common scam we have encountered is that of an entity conveniently named "facebook Support", etc, requesting ownership of your Facebook page. Sadly many business owners have fallen victims of this scam, and there's absolutely nothing you can do if this happened to you.
So how can you avoid this scam? Do the following:
- Add more than one TRUSTED administrator to your page
- Only give third parties limited access
- Never accept ownership requests
- Setup a META business account and take ownership of your page
- Only work with trusted agencies
It starts with an unsolicited Facebook message.
Hello there, how are you? Actually, I wanted to ask you if I might become an Admin for your group so that I might be a big help to the other admins. So please offer me the opportunity to have an admin; I would really appreciate that.
How noble of someone to want to spend countless hours managing a group they get no benefit from!! (Insert eyeroll)
Fortunately, I'm always suspect fo unsolicited offers, and I always check to see their profile details.
In this case, the scammer may not be looking into stealing money from you directly, but it's looking to take a more powerful tool, which is to become an admin of a group with access to some times thousands of users, and turn it into their scam source or a place for selling "leads".