A new authentic-looking Game of Thrones-styled phishing campaign has been identified which is targeting people who illegally download pirated copies of the HBO series. Game of Thrones is, to date, the most pirated TV show in history, with many people opting to illegally obtain the most recent episodes. Hackers have chosen to take advantage if this.
The hackers have utilized a sophisticated scam to make their scam more genuine. The emails purport to have been sent by IP-Echelon, the company that is used by HBO and other entertainment companies to enforce copyright legislation. IP-Echelon has already issued many copyright infringement emails to illegal downloaders of movies and TV shows on behalf of a number of corporations.
This scam uses emails that seem to have been shared by IP-Echelon. The emails are very well written and contain the same language that is used by the organization when sending out legitimate correspondence to ISPs.
The ISPs, believing the copyright infringement notices to be authentic, send the emails to customers. Since the notice is broadcast by the ISP, the Game of Thrones phishing scam appears to be real.
The customer is advised that they must settle the case quickly – within 72 hours – in order to avoid penal action. To settle the case, the customer must go to a link to review the settlement offer and complete a payment. If they do not do so the settlement offer is withdrawn and they are advised that the settlement about will increase.
The phishing scam has discovered in the United States, although there have been a number of reports of individuals in Canada, Europe, and Australia also having been the victims of the same email scam.
It is not yet obvious whether the scammers are specifically targeting people who have accessed torrent sites and have downloaded torrent files, or whether the emails are being sent out with no specific target in mind. Some individuals have taken to Internet forums to claim say they have not downloaded any illegal video, while others have been using torrent sites to illegally obtain TV shows and movies.
On an earlier occasion HBO has taken action over illegal downloaders and has used IP-Echelon to issue notices very similar to those being used by the scammers. Since the Game of Thrones phishing scam seems to be so genuine, many illegal downloaders may be tricked into completing the payment. However, that payment will go straight to the scammers.
As is the case with all email requests like this, the recipient should take measures to verify the authenticity of the email before taking any action. Contacting the company that issued the message – using the contact telephone number on the company’s official website – is the most effective way to confirm authenticity. Email recipients should never use any contact details that is included in the email body.
Some ISPs have taken measures to prove confirm the authenticity of the emails and have identified that they are a scam, but not all. Many have been sent on by ISPs who thought that the scam emails were genuine.