Fake Law Firms Use Fake DMCA Orders For Higher Search Engine Rankings

by State Brief

A new technique scammers have developed entails sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) copyright infringement notices to sites from fake law firms, and requesting the sites add a credit to their ‘client’ immediately, with the goal of getting certain links more optimized within search engine algorithms.

Ernie Smith, writer behind the newsletter Tedium received one such notice in late March over a picture of a key fob he attained royalty free from the legitimate and free-to-use photo service ‘Unsplash’ in an article he wrote.

The supposed law firm sending Smith the notice claimed to be representing a third party site, and requested, under the threat of litigation, that the writer adds a credit to their ‘client’ – a link to said third party site, within the next five days.

404 Media details how the law firm is not actually real, explaining how the staff’s credentials and bios were unlikely at the very least, and images of it’s lawyers were likely AI generated, being sourced back to a site that created images of people out of thin air, Reality Defender told 404 Media.

“All of the faces scanned were likely AI generated, most likely by a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) model,” Ali Shahriyari, cofounder and CTO of the AI detection startup Reality Defender told 404 Media.

According to 404 Media, the fake law firm’s address is the fourth floor of a single story building, a different building than is seen on their site, and its phone numbers are no longer in service.

What is being attempted by the fraudulent image credit order is referred to as a backlink search engine optimization (SEO) scam. Blacklinks are used to improve search engine rankings, most notably Google search rankings.

In this instance, the third party site that the fake law firm claimed to be representing, asking Smith to link to, told 404 Media they were not involved with the firm nor the DMCA order, and that it may have stemmed from a former link builder the site previously used.

When Ars Technica asked if Smith had heard back from the law firm after the five day period, the writer said they haven’t.

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