Phishing Scam About “Disgusting” Photo Theft

Phishing Scam About “Disgusting” Photo Theft

A Recurring Phishing Attempt

To give you all some peace of mind, we want you to be aware of a recurring phishing attempt that is brilliantly crafted to scare the heck out of anyone who opens up their email to find this from their website contact form.

The contact form has a name (usually Mel, Melanie, Melika, or similar), email (mphotographer365@ or similar at gmail and yahoo), and phone so it seems legitimate at first.

The first few lines cover the bases of what MIGHT be on your site: photos and illustrations. From here it devolves and begins to try to elicit an extreme emotional response:

Hello there!

This is Mellie and I am a licensed photographer and illustrator.

I was surprised, to put it nicely, when I came across my images at your web-site. If you use a copyrighted image without my consent, you need to be aware that you could be sued by the copyrigh owner.

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

From here, they tag your website address and tell you to go click a link to prove the images they’ve seen are actually theirs. However, this link rarely works and may even be capturing your IP Address or worse. Most of the time, the link is dead.

They end the contact form entry with a threat:

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.

One thing to note is although they are ‘professional,’ they do not share their own domain name but rather a Google site or other platform. They don’t identify where they are located, or any other identifying information. Most of you are professionals and have that information in your signatures. 

Plus the fact, that there are many emotional trigger words, personal opinions, and cursing,  versus professional terms is a dead give-a-way that it is a phishing attempt.


We and our contractors all believe in paying professionals and obtaining rights for image use. Most photo archives like iStockPhoto and Shutterstock have license agreements when images are purchased and the photographers we work with give us (and our clients) usage rights.

After 12 years in business, we can share that we’ve only been approached for copyright infringement twice and were able to prove we had the rights purchased. It was a mistake from a company that bought another company’s collection, so they didn’t have a record of the purchase. (We did.)

In the photo and illustration world, a legitimate claim would send you a document of screenshots and an invoice. Many also give you an opportunity to remove the image first depending on how long the image has been online.


When it comes to scary contact messages as well as any contact form that includes a link, ALWAYS be cautious. Don’t give personal information or anything that would allow access to your website. And always double-check when people are demanding money.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Photo Phishing Contact Form Example

About Eric

Eric Huber, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Owner of Blue Zoo Creative has 35 years in marketing, advertising, and graphic design for small businesses, a Fortune 100 company, and international organizations.

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