For website operators trying to get information into the public eye, the last thing they need is legal threats claiming that they have infringed someone’s copyright.
It is well known that copyright lawsuits are very expensive to defend, so, when it is under threat, most people take the easiest way out. A new wave of copyright complaints that are now being sent out offer a very easy way out for supposed infringers. This is because the scammers behind it really want people to go this route.
Alleged infringement of “copyrighted images”
March 2022, Richard Byrne from freetech4teachers.com Detect a scam The website operators have been notified by the supposed law firm Arthur Davidson Legal that they have infringed copyright in one of the images and a lawsuit could follow. However, if the recipient is simply associated with a domain and posts a credit on their site, the order will be closed.
A similar scam optimistically targeted TorrentFreak last year, but two articles in response are unlikely to stop these schemes from spreading and causing more victims.
in new article This week, Richard Byrne reported on an email sent to him by another fake law firm, this time calling itself “Nationwide Legal.” [nationwidelaw[D0T]org]. The email doesn’t mention Byrne by name (a red flag per se) but it does try to achieve the same goals: linking to a site, releasing the “source”, and Byrne won’t be sued for copyright infringement.
The image referenced in the email as the original copyrighted image, is suspiciously hosted on Imgur. It took us less than 20 seconds to find this picture too Offered on Pixabay It is marked as ‘Free for commercial use’ and ‘No attribution required’.
There is no copyright infringement and scammers know about it.
Objectives of the scam
These scams have only one primary goal in mind – to have as many domains linking to a particular domain as possible in order to increase its perceived value in the eyes of search engines. This time the scammers are trying to direct traffic to [briandcruzhypnoplus[D0T]com]which claims to represent the business of a UK-based hypnotherapist named Brian D’Cruz.
As the screenshot below shows, reputable third-party sites are already falling for this fake credit and link scam.
The [briandcruzhypnoplus[D0T]com]that is pressed for credit and linked to was registered on January 1, 2022, presumably carrying commercial information relating to Brian DeCruz and his hypnotherapy practice.
It wouldn’t be surprising that nothing is clear about the website or the person it claims to represent. But before we dive down the rabbit hole, let’s take a look at who this campaign is targeting.
Victim sites are mostly related to mental health issues
One of the metrics that search engines use to determine the value of external links pointing to a domain is whether the content on the linked sites (those who have received a bogus DMCA notice) is relevant to the content on the target site, and in these Status pseudo hypnotherapy site.
From the available information, it appears that scammers mostly focus on sites that cover mental illnesses and medical illnesses that affect the mind, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Since they now contain links to a fraudulent hypnotherapy site, it is not difficult to find them.
Some of the targeted websites are listed below. The article title appears first with a link to the source page, which at the time of writing carries credits and links back to the pseudo-hypnotherapy site.
Trauma-informed pedagogy Barnard College, Columbia University
Health and counseling services Bard College Berlin
Occupational therapists and mental health interventions – Move with hope
In grief: A nursing student struggles with the loss of a father Grief Healing Blog
Fatigue and exhaustion – Buddhistdoor Global
New AI-based algorithm to detect brain hemorrhage – NoCamels
Mental health during crises like COVID-19 Safe Communities of Portugal
Effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease – EyesOnALZ
We can do better Chronic Mental Illness Association
What is a mental health crisis? Jonathan Voice (UK-based mental health charity)
The above list is not exhaustive anywhere and appears to be increasing over time.
DMCA fraud leads to misinformation through misuse of real information
Determining who is behind these scams is not easy, but with the right tools and patience, shedding light on the mechanisms is quite possible. With that in mind, it’s worth drawing attention to Brian DeCruz, who (whether he likes it or not) has been spotlighted thanks to this campaign. It turns out that Mr. D’Cruz, whoever he is, is a useful conduit for finding additional information.
From everything we’ve seen so far, Brian D’Cruz really is. As the fictitious site clearly states, he practiced hypnotherapy in the south of England, or at some point he practiced. However, if someone reviews the name Brian D’Cruz with the listings in the public hypnotherapy registry, the scammers’ website is not the one listed.
In fact, the existing D’Cruz links to BeyondBoundariesHypnotherapy.com, a seemingly dead site that carries much of the same information as the new site published in January. A copy of the Wayback Machine also reveals that images of the processor are present drastically When compared across sites, this is an indication of a deliberate switch.
ghosts from the past
Since Brian D’Cruz’s available email address is linked to the now-lost “Beyond Boundaries” domain, contacting him was impossible. However, we were able to prove that the original ‘Beyond Boundary’ domain was created several years ago and Registered with Sam D’Cruz.
Such as Archive copy From the Beyond Boundaries website on the Wayback Machine clearly shown in the footer, the site was created by web design/SEO I New Media. Sam is currently registered at Friends page He appears to have strong links with the company.
At the time of writing, we have yet to receive a response from Sam following our requests for comment. We have not received any response from I-New Media either. That’s a real shame, given the number of questions we have.
I-New Media also received image credits and backlinks
According to its website, I New Media They offer search engine optimization (SEO) services, as do many companies. However, we were surprised to learn that the company also receives backlinks from sites that appear to be attributing ownership of images to which it does not own the rights.
for example, this piece On WeGrowValue.com, the photo is attributed to the company for no apparent reason. along with a link back to the URL i-newmedia.com/media.
This following credit and link example back to I-New Media provides more irony than anyone could hope for.
Lewis Silkin is a major international law firm with undoubted skills in all areas of law, including copyright. In fact, Louis Silken worked in the UK to help identify alleged BitTorrent hackers so they could receive a letter in the mail from rights holders alleging copyright infringement. Of course beneficiaries can choose to settle their cases by taking affirmative action, in which case paying a settlement.
In this case, it appears that Louis Silken has received an order for Back to new media Under the threat of a copyright claim, I decided to comply with the scammers.
Other sites that credit I-New Media for image content they don’t own include:
What is social media marketing? – GetSocialGuide.com
Social media use may contribute to sleep deprivation – HealthTechInsider.com
A Quick Guide to Tracking Social Media Followers Bad Reno company
There are many cases where sites deposit money and link it back to I-New Media but the missing link is the reason they choose to do so. Did they do it under duress or perhaps they had a connection to the company and did it voluntarily?
At this point it is worth referring to the email that Richard Byrne received from freetech4teachers.com. We mentioned it at the beginning of this article and that is why we embarked on this task. The email was sent by the Trademark Division at Nationwide Legal, mentioning the DMCA, and warning that a copyright lawsuit may follow in the event of non-compliance. So we started contacting people who hooked up again with I-New Media to find out what motivated them to do so.
We received a number of responses and they all told the same story. An unsolicited email claiming copyright infringement in images asked them to approve I-New Media and refer to a specific URL. In turn, past and future “violations” will be ignored and no lawsuit will follow.
As mentioned earlier, we have requested comment from Sam D’Cruz and I-New Media but neither has responded. This means we can’t get answers to some of these other questions either, which is disappointing given the circumstances.
A few coincidences to clarify
Since the scam hypnotherapy site was copied from a website originally designed by I-New Media, we wanted to clarify the facts with the company. Is this one of those 1 million coincidences every now and then, or is there another explanation?
Likewise, is it just a coincidence that someone named Sam D’Cruz, who works for I-New Media, is not only registered as the domain registrar for the original hypnotherapy site, but also shares the same unfamiliar nickname as Hypnotherapy? Stranger things have happened but we wanted to make that clear as well.
So, given the links above, coincidence or not, what are the odds of the same scam law firm sending out identical legal threats to drive traffic to a bogus hypnotherapy site, while apparently doing the same for I-New Media as well? Or is I-New Media an unfortunate victim in all of this?
These are questions that need to be answered but as we said, our emails are not answered. If so, we will also ask about another coincidence. It’s about choosing to host the I-New Media website and the website of the fraudulent hypnotherapist.
Regardless of domain names and ages, their WHOIS reports look exactly the same, and although the IP address refers to the shared hosting used by a large number of other websites, there are an unusual number of IP addresses available online where there is only one website. (or the other) it could have been located instead.
Throwing the same DNS server for both domains over this IP address seems computationally unusual but what will happen next is unknown.
TorrentFreak has learned that at least one of the companies targeted with a DMCA bogus notice is already consulting with its legal team and we wouldn’t be surprised if others are considering their options as well.
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