Beware Of Crypto And Online Scams Using Our Name
Don't Fall Prey to Brandjackers: How Fraudsters are Framing Tech Companies
Published: May 2nd 2023
CRYPTO BLACKMAIL: A type of scam in which scammers impersonate a company or organization, send alarming messages to their targets claiming to have obtained embarrassing or damaging information about them. The scammers then demand payment in cryptocurrency to prevent the release of the damaging information or to refrain from disrupting the company's reputation. Typical means of communicating with the targeted company include email, social media, and other messaging apps. Crypto blackmail is considered a serious cybercrime that requires appropriate measures to combat, including reporting to law enforcement authorities.
BRANDJACKING: Refers to a security attack where scammers or fraudsters use a company's name, logo, or other branding elements to create a false impression of legitimacy. The scammer's goal is typically to trick innocent users into giving up personal information or engage in other risky behavior that can lead to financial loss. Examples of Brandjacking include creating fake websites, phishing emails, and social media profiles that exploit a brand's identity.
What could it look like?
A scammer may do a random call, email, or even text to your company! They are completely versatile in their methods used so you have to stay on your toes and be vigilant.
At our company Frenchy Digital, we take security threats very seriously. Recently, we have become aware of two increasingly common types of scam known as Crypto Blackmail and Brandjacking. These scams involve individuals falsely representing your company and threatening to harm your brand reputation online unless a ransom is paid in cryptocurrency or any other form of payment online. While we are working hard to protect our own brand and mitigate the impact of these threats, it's important for all employers to be aware of the risks and to take proactive measures to safeguard their company's reputation.
In this article, we will outline the steps we are taking to protect our company from branding blackmail and Brandjacking, as well as provide guidance on what to do if you suspect any suspicious activity happening to your company.
Crypto or Online Blackmail, very common and easy to spot. But not easy to handle.
Scammers may use any of these old school methods to try to get companies to send them ransom funds in crypto:
- Sending Threatening Messages: Scammers may send emails, text messages, or social media messages, claiming to have sensitive information that can damage the company, or proclaiming to have hacked the company's system.
- Publishing Fake News Articles via Third-Party Systems: Scammers may create and publish false news articles about a company using third-party systems that are tough to take down.
- Create Fake Negative Reviews: Scammers can create negative reviews on online directories like Google, Trustpilot, and Yelp, to harm a company's reputation. These platforms have minimal requirements for leaving reviews, making it easy for scammers to misrepresent a business.
What does Frenchy do when faced with Online Blackmail?
To fight online crypto blackmail, we stay alert and vigilant for any warning signs, such as threatening messages or negative reviews. We have secured our online accounts and data as well as monitor online mentions of our company. We respond quickly to any potential issues and have registered our brand logos / name with appropriate authorities for intellectual property protection.
The scammers usually don't do too much when their messages are ignored. But when they go the extra mile, that means we do to! Here are a couple of steps to take like this you know what to do in the case of this type of situation.
- Ignore the messages and block the senders / callers. As long as they're not name dropping clients, employees, or anyone of direct importance, ignoring these messages are the better way to go.
- Got a bad review that's not based on your services and that's a direct result of the scammer's doing?
- Respond directly to the review stating that the reviewer isn't a client and that their goal is extortion from your company.
- Report the Troll's review using the account owners account. For example, on Google, use the google my business account. Make sure to report it as "SPAM" or as "Not Relevant". These tend to get reviews that are not related to the business taken down within 2-3 business days. Make sure to look out for an email from Google Support
- Or click on this link that goes directly to the page that reports false information to Google:
Now that we’ve talked about crypto blackmail, we can get into the current some current issues that we at Frenchy Digital are facing when it comes to branding brand jacking. See the following image below:
Victims of our success...
Brandjacking is very, very annoying. But it happens to brands like our own who are growing rapidly and scammers see it too.
Official Website's Leave Official Clues.
No official contact emails? Contact Persons? Numbers featured on google or other online directories? You may be looking at a scam!
Here are a lot of things to spot on this FAKE Frenchy website:
- You can see the website isn't finished / very poorly done with the version of the web page at the top left
- The Copyright Date is overdue
- There are no other clickable links for Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policies
- There is no number to call directly that is our international number
- No About Us
- Not our Official Whatsapp
- Limited information as to what this website even does.
- No link back to our official website
Reminder: How to Recognize Frenchy Digital Online
To ensure that you are interacting with the official Frenchy Digital website and not a fake imposter, please be mindful of the following:
- Look for the website URL - it should match our official domain name, www.frenchydigital.com. This is the primary and only website for all our international offices.
- Check the website's branding - it should include consistent imagery and information that aligns with our official publications. Anything that looks different or inconsistent with our brand guidelines might be misleading.
- Verify the contact information - our website should display accurate phone number:+1(310)-319-0708, Whatsapp +1(424)-272-5601 and email addresses that bear our registered domain name, frenchydigital.com. Ensure that the information you see is linked to the registered domain and not any other. Same thing with emails from frenchy, make sure to click on the email and see the detailed version and not the abridged.
We take our brand reputation seriously, and we hope that these reminders help you identify the official Frenchy Digital website and avoid any false companies that misuse our brand and credibility. Thank you for helping us maintain the integrity of our brand.
So, how did we find out about this Brandjacker FrenchyUK?
A very, very unhappy user of this so-called service.
It's Important to note that there are two possibilities to this case:
- This is a real Victim that has been dupped by FrenchyUK.
- This is a Brandjacker that has orchestrated a false claim of being a victim in a goal to extort funds from our Company.
You never know what is true, or what is false, but users who are clearly distraught will want answers and at least action that will be taken in order to resolve this issue.
What did we do?
In case you come across a fraudulent website that is imitating your brand, it is crucial to take immediate action and have it taken down to avoid damage to your brand reputation and customer trust.
Here are some steps you can take, which we have followed as well:
- Contact the hosting company: To identify the hosting company, use a "whois" lookup. After that, inform them that the website is fraudulent and violates their terms of service. The hosting company is authorized to take action against such websites.
- Report to authorities: Another crucial step is reporting the website to the relevant authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). They have the power to investigate and shut down fraudulent websites.
- Notify customers and employees: Alert your customers and employees immediately about the fraudulent website. Ask them not to share any personal or financial information with the website to prevent any further harm.
- Take legal action: If the website is seriously impacting your brand or business, you may consider taking legal action. Sending a "Cease and Desist" to the domain owners is a first step. Your legal team can guide you further on what actions need to be taken.
- Monitor for future imitations: Taking precautions for future incidents is also important. Monitor your brand mentions online, and in case of any future imitations, take quick action to prevent the situation from escalating.
Please follow the steps below to perform a WHOIS lookup:
- Visit a WHOIS lookup website, such as whois.com or icann.org/whois.
- Input the domain name of the website you want to investigate.
- The website will display the results of the WHOIS lookup, which includes the name and contact information of the domain name registrant, and the domain name server (DNS) information.
- Look out for the hosting company's name in the DNS information, which typically comprises the name and IP address of the server where the website is hosted.
- Having identified the hosting company, you can contact them and inform them that the website is fraudulent and violates their terms of service. The hosting company is empowered to shut down the fraudulent website.
By performing a WHOIS lookup, you can quickly find out the hosting company of the fraudulent website and appropriately alert them to take necessary actions to bring down the fraudulent website.
Here's the WHOIS DATA for the FAKE FRENCHYDIGITALUK:
We first contacted the registrar abuse email provided: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's a template of the email we sent:
Dear WHOIS Dispute Form Team, I am writing to file a claim against the fraudulent domain name - www.frenchydigitaluk.com, which I believe is an act of identity usurpation and a serious violation of our intellectual property rights.We, Frenchy Digital, are a reputable digital marketing company based in France, and we have been operating under the domain name www.frenchydigital.com for over the past few years. Recently, we discovered that a scammer is using the fraudulent domain name www.frenchydigitaluk.com to deceive unsuspecting users and steal their personal information.The scammer is using a variety of tactics, such as sending unsolicited emails and displaying fake ads on social media platforms, to redirect users to the fraudulent website. Once on the website, the scammer tricks users into entering sensitive information such as credit card details, personal identification numbers, and other private information.The fraudulent website, which resembles our legitimate website by using our logos and name, not only confuses our customers but also tarnishes our brand reputation. We have received complaints from international users who have fallen victim to the scam and have suffered significant financial losses and identity theft.Therefore, we request that you take immediate action against the fraudulent domain name www.frenchydigitaluk.com and remove it from the internet. We believe this action is necessary to protect our intellectual property rights and prevent further harm to our customers.We would be happy to provide any further information that you may require to process this claim. Please let us know if you need any additional documentation or evidence to support our claim. Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your prompt response. Sincerely, Chris Machetto, Co-Founder Frenchy Digital L.L.C.
Then Submitted a claim to Alibabacloud the Registrar using their portal for non Chinese Residents:
We also did the same on Whatsapp where the perpetrator is reaching out to unsuspecting victims:
Online Blackmail and Brandjacking
Are genuine threats in today's digital age that can significantly affect the reputation of businesses.
As such, companies should promptly take action and put effective preventive measures in place to deal with such problems. The first step is to proactively monitor your brand's online presence by regularly tracking your social media channels and search engine results. This ensures that any suspicious accounts or impersonations are detected and reported immediately to the relevant authorities. Additionally, investing in cybersecurity software can help detect any breaches to your security.
If your brand becomes a victim of online blackmail or brandjacking,
It is essential to take quick action by following the appropriate steps, such as contacting law enforcement and notifying relevant stakeholders. The plan to have the fraudulent website taken down, engaging in legal actions, and launching awareness campaigns must follow. Constant monitoring of your brand's online presence is also necessary to ensure that any new imitations or threats are detected and handled promptly. It is also recommended to work closely with law enforcement and relevant agencies to help track down the culprits and bring them to justice. Lastly, communication to stakeholders, including customers, employees, and investors, must be open, honest, and transparent, to maintain brand credibility and reputation.By implementing the preventive measures outlined in this article and following the appropriate action plans in case of an attack, companies can mitigate the risks of online blackmail and brandjacking. This secures the company's reputation and prevent negative impacts on businesses.
Be careful and stay safe online.
- WHOIS Lookup: whois.com and icann.org/whois
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC): www.ftc.gov
- World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): www.wipo.int/amc/en/domains/
- Better Business Bureau (BBB): www.bbb.org/scamtracker
- Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG): www.apwg.org
- Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN): www.icann.org
- Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3): www.europol.europa.eu/ec3/
- United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): www.uspto.gov/trademarks/report-trademark-infringement
Chris Machetto is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at Frenchy Digital, a family run software development company made by young entrepreneurs that is taking over the App Development and Blockchain space in Los Angeles but also the world.