With the government shutdown of the popular file hosting website, Megaupload, cyber scammers have a new trick up their sleeves. It’s been reported that people in Germany have been receiving threatening emails accusing them of copyright infringement. To avoid a lengthy and expensive lawsuit, the victims are urged to pay a fee between 50 and 147 euros.
The scams have been seen in two variations so far, one that comes via email and another that’s installed on the computer as malware. The email version is sent by a fake law firm called “Dr. Kroner & Kollegen,” and claims that it is representing rightholders such as Universal, Sony, EMI, Warner and Dreamworks.
The second variation of the scam is more complex and effective; it installs malware on your computer that redirects your browser to a webpage that claims to be associated with GVU, which is a real anti-piracy group responsible for the takedown of many file-sharing sites. But the page is a fake and has no ties with the real GVU. Once on the page, a warning is displayed claiming that your computer has been detected as sharing copyrighted works and that you need to shell out 50 euros to avoid a lawsuit.
So far, these scams haven’t been spotted outside of Germany, but we assume they’ll spread quickly to other nations, including the United States. If you come across anything that resembles the scam described above, proceed with extreme caution. The worst thing you can do is blindly pay the fees out of fear.
If targeted by such a scam, your best bet is to research the company or the sender of the email for credibility and pay close attention to the details. Make sure there are no misspellings or anything that seems “off” in the sender’s email address. We urge you not to pay anything without first consulting a legal professional.