Bot Botson, attorney at law.

Chain Link

An account purporting to represent a law firm has been caught sending out ominous threats — but upon closer inspection, it appears that the "firm" doesn't exist, nor does its lawyers.

As 404 Media reports, this seeming AI scam began when Ernie Smith, the owner of the blog Tedium, got a "copyright infringement notice" from someone named Will Thomas claiming to represent Commonwealth Legal, an allegedly Arizona-based law firm.

"We’re reaching out on behalf of the Intellectual Property division of a notable entity," the email read, "in relation to an image connected to our client."

Generally speaking, these kinds of notices are an ultimatum: take down our copyrighted material or we'll sue you. But in Smith's case, the firm in question wasn't asking for an image takedown, but was instead requesting that Tedium link the purportedly-copyrighted image, which came from the royalty-free image database Unsplash, back to some sort of gadget review site called Tech4Gods.

As you can probably guess from the use of terms like "purporting," "claiming," and "allegedly," nothing about this situation was legit.

Perhaps the most damning indictment of the phony firm, besides the fact that none of its so-called "lawyers" turned up any results on LinkedIn or their respective alleged universities, is that a reverse image search linked them to a site called — the same source as the fake writers we found at Sports Illustrated last year.

"All of the faces scanned were likely AI generated, most likely by a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) model," Ali Shahriyari, the cofounder and chief technology officer of AI detection startup Reality Defender, told 404.

Return to Sender

Things got even faker when looking into Commonwealth's alleged Phoenix address: it lists a fourth-floor office, but a Google Street View photo of that location shows a single-story, ranch-style building.

When 404 reached out to Tech4Gods' Daniel Barczak, who disclaims on his site that his gadget reviews are "complemented by AI writing assistants," the website's owner said he had nothing to do with the backlink request and suggested that someone else was sending them out without his consent.

When asked who would do such a thing, Barczak said he had "no idea" and that it "certainly has nothing to do with me" before adding that "recently, someone has been building spammy links against my site."

"I have mastered on-page SEO, but unfortunately, I buy links due to a lack of time," the United Kingdom-based blogger and developer told 404. "In the past, I had a bad link builder. I wonder if it’s him going [sic] mad at me for letting him go... It’s hard to say [because] the web is massive, and everyone can link whenever they want."

At this point, 404Tedium, and anyone interested in this bizarre situation has to take Barczak's word that he's not involved in this very obvious SEO link-back scheme — but regardless of who's doing it, it does show how AI is making dumb scams even dumber.

More on scams: Investigation Finds What Really Happens If You Actually Click Those ░P░U░S░S░Y░I░N░B░I░O░ Links

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