A new phishing scam is targeting internet service providers (ISPs) in the UK, US and Australia claiming to be working on behalf of various rights holders, including HBO.


Phishers are hoping to catch unsuspecting downloaders and have them pay a fee to make the fake legal demands go away. The scammers send letters looking like the real deal, with demanding a settlement payment within 72 hours to potential pirates and cite plenty of information about the alleged download, which worries recipients.


“You have 72 hours to access the settlement offer and settle online. If you fail to settle, the claim(s) will be referred to our attorneys for legal action. At that point the original settlement offer will no longer be an option and the amount will increase as a result of us having to involve our attorneys,” the scammers say in a phishing email letter.


HBO and its piracy firm, IP-Echelon, do send takedown notices to pirates of the hit series Game of Thrones, but they have nothing to do with the threatening settlement requests. “The notices are fake and not sent by us. It's a phishing scam,” IP-Echelon said.


It's possible that the notices are not being sent to random addresses, and the scammers may very well be taking the IPs from real torrent swarms.


“Consumers receiving emails regarding any type of odd fine or settlement should almost always be followed by a phone call to the organisation. Call the telephone number on the official website and not the one listed in the email. Any emailed notice should be scrutinised for validity. Check the from-email address to make sure the domain is the same address as the official website. Receivers of these types of emails can also hover over links in the content with their mouse and look at the tool tips that appear,” said Mike Patterson, founder and CEO of Plixer.