This image of a wolf highlight's this post's topic on sheep in wolfs' clothing, i.e. scammers disguising as anti-scam experts.

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: Fraudsters impersonating Online Brand Protection Experts 

In the digital age, as brands strive to safeguard their image and intellectual property, the demand for robust online brand protection services has soared. Unfortunately, this increased demand has also led to a rise in scammers and deceitful operators. These fraudsters exploit the very vulnerabilities they promise to protect.

This image of a shady character relaxing in a polygonal animal mask hints at the modern forms of deception and coercion employed in modern scam tactics.

This blog post delves into two recent cautionary tales, highlighting the importance of vigilance and due diligence when choosing a brand protection partner. These real stories underscore the critical need for careful selection to avoid falling prey to fraudulent operators and scammers. 

The Fake “Anti-Scam” Association Scam 

Imagine stumbling upon a site that purports to be a bastion of consumer defense, pledging to expose scammers and protect the innocent. This site prominently displays logos of reputable consumer and brand protection agencies, suggesting a level of legitimacy and endorsement. However, the reality is far darker. This supposed protector is nothing but a façade created by fraudsters to exploit those already victimized.  The website impersonating trusted entities, including the EBRAND and the Global Anti-Scam Alliance. By using logos of leading brand and consumer associations, the platform pretends to be a well-connected industry partner. This guise gives them the tools they need to perpetrate a scam upon the already scammed. Essentially, scam victims face another attack in a cruel scam on top of a scam.

Actual fake site used in the scam: 

This image is a screenshot of the Anti-Scam Worldwide website, a page which exemplifies a possible scam posed as an anti-scam platform.

Thankfully, swift enforcement action by EBRAND led to the removal of the site, preventing it from deceiving anyone else. This incident is just one of many they have addressed in the past. This rapid takedown mirrors our everyday work with leading brands and individuals, demonstrating EBRAND’s commitment to vigilant and proactive brand protection. EBRAND’s prompt response underscores the importance of having robust brand protection services. With the right tools in hand, you can quickly identify and eliminate fraudulent activities that prey on vulnerable consumers. 

The Start-Up Brand Protection Scammer 

Imagine you are a startup brand protection provider seeking connections and competitive information in your field. In one case, this led a business to engage in deceptive practices to infiltrate and learn from industry leaders. The CEO of the company, based in Africa, crafted a false identity, complete with an AI-generated profile picture and a fabricated resume. This resume boasted a work history with well-known brands, creating a convincing façade to gain trust and access to valuable industry insights. 

Actual fake image used in the scam: 

This image of a person's face, which out platform suggests is AI-generated, appeared on pages posing as anti-scam websites.

Using this fabricated persona, the individual established Gmail accounts and registered fake domain names to conceal their real identity.  

Posing as a potential client interested in brand protection services, the individual contacted EBRAND, requesting information and demonstrations of their Online Brand Protection solutions. His inquiries were tactically framed to extract valuable competitive intelligence, including:

  • The scope of marketplace monitoring the brands offer and whether they can tailor this to specific requests. 
  • Pricing details for monitoring and enforcement services. 
  • Protocols for handling situations where a product from an authorized reseller is mistakenly enforced upon. 
  • Unique selling propositions and differentiators from competitors. 

This fraudster meticulously designed fake profiles to appear credible, connecting with hundreds of real people, including leading brand protection experts at global brands, on platforms like LinkedIn. These sophisticated impersonators construct layers of manufactured authenticity to facilitate trust and open doors to sensitive information exchanges. Information siphoning often sneaks in under the guise of genuine business interest. Scammers, much like wolves, rarely operate alone; they often travel in packs as coordinated scam campaigns deceive innocent victims. 

The Moral of the Cases 

These cases once again underline the need for thorough vetting when choosing an online brand protection partner, particularly in an era where AI-generated content can create convincingly fake identities. The presence of scammers in this industry underscores the importance of diligent background checks. Before engaging with any service, consumers and companies must verify customer reviews and seek referrals from trusted industry insiders. Cautious users should also demand clear evidence of operational transparency and past successes. 

As the digital landscape offers vast opportunities for brand growth, it also presents sophisticated threats. Choosing a reputable brand protection partner is crucial to safeguarding against potentially catastrophic deceptions. Brands can ensure the integrity and security of their businesses by critically scrutinizing online identities and maintaining stringent verification standards. 

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