Yesterday, I received this email through my web site (names and related information changed):

From: Rose Dimple <mail@insurancecommentary.com>
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2024 3:06 AM
To: InsuranceCommentary@outlook.com
Subject: New Message From Insurance Commentary with Bill Wilson

Hi

It has come to our attention that you are using one of my photographs on your website insurancecommentary.com without a valid licence.

My lawyers have already posted a bundle of documents with the supporting evidence to your registered company address. You should have already heard back from them.

I would like to personally invite you to settle this dispute by transferring the below amount to one of the crypto wallet addresses.

Bitcoin: bc1q4206tlzgldnr3ufe44hf9m6qm329ztzxhqfxdw
Ethereum: 0xa74cce7805342F10df3969B8342380f58bB709b5
Solana: G9quVAfjmRsLfT9xcopaUp7rkFAvdYEd44kHLhzaFVRu

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or you can also speak to one of my representatives listed below.

Once you have made the payment, please email me the transaction number and I will close your case.

Yours sincerely

Don Hastely

don@hastely.com
666.123.4666
don@hastely.com

Represented in the U.S. by:
WCW Arts
Crick + Spielbrach Production
wcwarts.com
info@wcwarts.com
555.567.1234
Jim Williams
555.423.111

Represented in Canada by:
Charles Fitzimmons Promotions
havenafitz.com
mollie@havenafitz.com
200.764.9876

Presuming this was a scam, I took a few minutes to check out the information with some googling. First of all, I found that Don Hastely (again, not the photographer’s real name) was a real photographer in another state. Second, I found articles where this photographer had actually and successfully sued someone for copyright infringement when they allegedly used a photograph without permission and licensing. That made me go hmmm. In addition, the other entities and their contact information appeared to be real as well.

So, perhaps this wasn’t a scam after all, though I noted that there was no “amount” listed that I was to pay, I had not heard from any attorneys, and the only means of payment were bitcoin and a couple of other platforms.

To continue my investigation, I found that the photographer had a Facebook page, so I messaged him on Facebook. Within minutes he responded with this message:

Sorry .. we are both victims of “phishing”. Anything that requests payment via bitcoins is going to be a scam.

This confirmed my initial presumption. I have photos on my web site but they are either license-free images provided through the WordPress platform or, in a few instances, photos for which I received express permission to reproduce. But this experience taught me a couple of things.

First, I have a new appreciation for how detailed an online scam can be. Whoever sent this email had obviously spent time researching photographers with a published track record of legally enforcing their copyrighted intellectual property then adding information that could be verified to be real. Second, it reinforced the idea that there is a need for insurance beyond just traditional property and liability insurance.

If, for example, your business web site had photos or other information that is copyrighted by others and you’re threatened with a lawsuit for that alleged infringement, do you have the right kind of coverage in place to respond to such claims? This goes for personal web sites as well. Make sure that anyone who has the ability to post on your web site understands this exposure and that your insurance program protects you when mistakes are made.

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Bill Wilson

Founder at InsuranceCommentary.com
One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information