Did You Pirate Game Of Thrones? Beware Of Phishing Scam Posing As Copyright Notice

HBO’s Game of Thrones isn’t just another wacky sitcom about fancy chairs. It’s also the most frequently pirated show on TV, with huge numbers of people clamoring each week to download and share the latest episode. Scammers are now trying to cash in on this sizable audience by sending phishing emails disguised as copyright notices.

After all, copyright holders have a long history of sending legal notices and demands for money to alleged pirates, so why wouldn’t HBO be sending you an email for downloading (and then sharing with a few thousand pals) that episode where Tyrion and his college buddy Steve get lost in the mall parking lot?

The folks at TorrentFreak first noticed a similar scam a couple of weeks back, with reports of phishing emails claiming to be from movie and TV studios, and other copyright holders.

A new TF report shows how Game of Thrones fans are being specifically targeted by this scam.

An email claiming to be sent on behalf of HBO, complete with the correct mailing address for the network (which is better research than a lot of phishing scammers put into their messages), gives the recipient the bad news that “We have received information leading us to believe that an individual has utilized the IP address… at the noted data and time below to host and/or facilitate the downloading and/or streaming of content… in which Home Box Office, Inc. is the copyright owner.”

After presenting the IP address data and info on the allegedly shared file, the email provides a link to a website purported to contain details on “a settlement offer that we feel is reasonable for both you and the copyright holder.”

The recipient then has 72 hours to agree to that settlement or face “legal action.”

While the email has the tone and content of your typical “settle up or else” email sent by legitimate copyright holders, it’s really a way to trick the recipient into paying a scammer with no claim to the GoT copyright.

TorrentFreak spoke with the firm that does send takedown notices and other copyright demands for HBO and confirmed that these emails are a phishing attempt.

It appears that the scammers are just blasting these notices out to random individuals and datacenters, hoping that their professional appearance (and the likelihood that the recipient did pirate the show) will result in ill-gotten gains.

One datacenter tells TF that it wasn’t initially sure if the notices it received were a scam or not. Some of the IP addresses referenced in the emails they received were not part of their network, but that sort of mistake isn’t beyond belief.

HBO’s piracy monitor says that law enforcement is looking into this matter, but yeah… best of luck with that.