Beware of Patent and Trademark Scams – What You Need To Know
Recent reports have indicated that the number of patent and trademark related scams have increased in the last year. Typically, these scams come in the form of a reputable looking email from an individual who is requesting immediate payment, financial compensation, or even login information. These emails can sometimes be called phishing scams or spoofed emails.
Scammers have been diligent at updating the design and content of these emails to look legitimate, and at first glance these messages can feel like a real email from a reputable client or firm. Unfortunately, even the most cautious individuals can fall victim to these scams.
In light of this, we’ve taken the time to compile a gallery of sample fake emails/invoices that we have received, as well as some tips and tricks on how to avoid getting caught in these scams.
Tips & Tricks
- Were you expecting an email from an accounting department (that may include invoices) from the sender? Does the email seem to show up during a time that does not coincide with the work that you’re doing? While emails of this nature may show up unexpectedly from time to time, it’s good to stop and think about whether or not its intended purpose is timely.
- Check the sender’s email address. Does it look legitimate? Is the sender’s name reputable, but the email address does not correspond to the sender? Example: Paul Smith sends an email from what looks like FirmXYZ. In the “From” field, it shows Paul Smith as the sender’s name, but the email address shows “psmith0123@Socentre465.com” and not “psmith@firmXYZ.com”. If you’re unsure, visit a search engine to look up the email address and see if it comes from a reputable source. If someone is spoofing an email, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish if the source is reputable or not.
- Does the email have all the necessary content of a real email? Does it look normal? Are there spelling mistakes? Sometimes the fake emails have grammatically incorrect content, strange formatting, and different logos or signatures.
- Does the footer of their email mention that the message has gone through some sort of virus software? Scammers add this information at the bottom of the emails to seem more legitimate and safe when in reality, the email has not gone through any virus checking at all.
- Don’t click any links in the email until you can confirm they are safe. If you hover your mouse over a link in an email, you will usually see a pop-up message that will display the actual URL (or web address) of the destination. For example, if the email states requests such as: Click here to proceed to payment or Click here to download Invoice No. 453234, it’s best to ensure that the link you’re clicking goes to a real and secure website portal. This includes any emails that have a “click here to unsubscribe” link – if the email is a scam email, some of these unsubscribe links can be just as bad as the links mentioned above.
- If you have any concerns at all, do not open any of the attachments (if applicable). Ask your IT department to run a scan on the documents to ensure that they’re free of viruses and malware.
- Where it is possible, speak with your IT department on how you can “blacklist” senders from fraudulent domains.
We receive a moderate amount of fraudulent emails every week that are specifically targeting patent and trademark applications. Here’s a look at some of the sample emails to look out for:
As always, if the emails seem in any way different than the emails you are used to receiving, or if it is from an unknown sender, it’s always best to check its legitimacy using our tips above or speak to your IT department.
If you have any questions about scams or fraudulent requests from these types of sources, please contact us.