The term ‘phishing’ refers to certain criminal activities that take place on the Internet, which aim to obtain confidential user information. Sometimes this is followed by spoofing, or the data is sent to organizations interested in them. It is called phishing (from ‘fishing’) because they make users ‘take the bait’.
There are many different kinds of phishing sites. The most common ones tend to be fake versions of well-known and legitimate websites. Let us take Facebook’s login page as an example. If the user does not check the URL to confirm they are on the actual Facebook page, and they submit their username and password, they fall right into the trap.
For more in-depth information read these tips from Stay Safe Online.
Recently, we shared on our social media channels an article by PlagiarismToday about WallPart, a supposedly online store for posters that turned out to be a scam site, probably for phishing purposes. It is not clear if they are in fact selling posters or not. What we know is that their products are not original content: they import results from Google Images and sell posters of them, without asking for any permission from the content owners.
This is what the phishing bait could be. Users who found their works being sold without permission would fill in a complaint form. Someone is selling posters of my photo, I send a copyright notice, and this is how they get my personal information.
The page itself has admitted not to have its own image library. Also, according to them, their activities do not infringe copyright (we will spare you any comments on this).
It remains unclear why they want this data, or why in this case they were looking for content creators who would send copyright claims, apart from unsuspecting buyers.
The reason for sharing this information is not just this particular case. It is just an example among many others. This week we found another website that could be another similar phishing site. It is called General-ebooks, and we shall not include a link to it for obvious reasons. Pages like this one get e-book titles from sites such as Amazon, then redirect people who try to download them to other partner scam websites and profit. Some of these distribute malware, others show ads and popups, but at the end of the day they are the same. They pretend to have a certain content, have a decent presence on search engines and profit. In these cases a copyright complaint would not be the best option, since the work is not even on the page. Anyway, some of these pages will shut down after a proper warning, to avoid further problems.
The one thing to keep in mind is to never give them any personal information. If the website does not seem trustworthy, just let it go and wait until they shut it down, or go ahead and report them yourself. It does not matter if they are using our work without permission, better safe than sorry. Do not fill any forms, nor register. This would require giving personal information, and accepting who knows what terms and conditions. If the website is legal and has a good reputation, if you see the URL starts with https://, then you are safe to place your copyright claim. Otherwise, beware because your works could just be another phisher’s bait.
One of the options if we want to take action would be to report the website or its content to Google’s content removal service.
Lastly, we would like to remind you to register your works anytime before sharing them online. Even if we are going to submit them to legal and well-known sites such as Amazon, it is best to create an early evidence of authorship, anticipating any possible problems.