For as detestable as they are, scammers are undeniably clever and resourceful. In the most recent example which highlights the lengths to which scammers will go to swindle people out of the hard-earned money, Torrent Freak directs us to a new phishing scheme where ISPs are the primary target.
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According to the report, an individual or group of individuals are masquerading as representatives from IP Echelon, the IP tracking arm of Lionsgate. These malicious actors are reaching out to ISPs with takedown notices which are then passed along to consumers, and bundled with such notices are fines which users are encouraged to pay in order to avoid legal proceedings. And because the consumer sees correspondence from their official ISP, they assume that it is 100% legitimate:
TorrentFreak was alerted to a takedown notice Lionsgate purportedly sent to a Cox subscriber, for allegedly downloading a pirated copy of the movie Allegiant. Under threat of a lawsuit, the subscriber was asked to pay a $150 settlement fee.
For a phishing scam the fake DMCA notice does its job well. At first sight the email appears to be legit, and for Cox Communications it was real enough to forward it to their customers.
The report notes that U.S. law enforcement agencies are already looking into the matter. In the meantime, you should independently reach out to the legitimate rightsholder if you receive such a notice, rather than just paying up directly.