Website Spoofing: How to Take Down an Illegal Copy of a Website in Germany

Website Spoofing: How to Take Down an Illegal Copy of a Website in Germany

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“Spoofing” is a cybercrime activity that involves fraudsters impersonating a trusted contact, company or brand to access sensitive personal data and information. It regularly involves fake copies of websites from law firms, banks, accountants and other professionals. Having tricked a victim, the fraudsters will then seek to communicate directly with their potential victim using emails or phone calls to gain their trust.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers will guide you through the process of taking down the fake website. Our lawyers will draft cease-and-desist letters and advise you regarding legal actions you can take against the fraudsters.

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Our Services: Website Spoofing and Phishing in Germany

Leading legal service with tackling phishing, spoofing and other internet frauds.

Our professionals will provide you with comprehensive legal service.

Taking Down Fake Websites and Legal Options

Fake websites and emails fraudulently claiming to come from respectable businesses to seek money and personal data from victims are becoming more common. These activities are also becoming more difficult to spot, even for persons with extensive experience; therefore, more people are falling victim to these actions. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our lawyers are ready to advise you regarding legal responses you can take in these cases.

Our intellectual property lawyers will guide you through the process of counteracting the scammers, including the following:

  1. Identify the scammer or the website server host: Although it is unlikely, there may be a chance that you can identify the fraudsters behind the fake domain name. However, this is often not the case due to scammers hiding their identities. However, it should be possible to discover the identity of the registrar of the fake domain name and the website server host.
  2. Gather the facts and create a record: Once the fraudsters become aware that you have discovered the scam, they may take action to remove the website and escape punishment. Therefore, it is crucial to record all information regarding the spoof. Take note of the date and times of the discovery, outline how you were made aware of the scam, take screenshots of the spoofed website, and gather information from any individuals the spoof website may have scammed.
  3. Contact our legal team: Once you have contacted our team, we will assess your legal options regarding whether you can file a fraud claim, seek to freeze the fraudster’s bank account and if there are possible claims for copyright infringement.
  4. Prevent or deter future scams. Contact our team regarding trademark and copyright filings. Ensure your domain name(s) are properly registered and protected. It may be worth creating a Google Alert to identify references to your company. Such action may allow you to uncover fraudulent activity.

This legal field – spoofing and phishing – is continually developing, as are detection methods for identifying fraudsters. By contacting our legal professionals, you can be assured that we will employ the most current methods of providing you with solutions to this issue.

Phishing under German Law

Phishing is a means by which scammers can trick people into sending personal and sensitive data, such as bank account numbers, to a scammer. This goal is achieved by the scammer sending fraudulent emails or on scam websites, where they pretend to be a legitimate business or reputable person, to their victim. Such phishing can be used for identity theft and other illegal means.

Alternatively, they send such phishing emails with attachments containing malware or ransomware to either damage the victim or hold them to ransom. Ransomware is a particular risk to businesses, which can face expensive interruptions to their activities should they fall victim to ransomware.

Under German law, phishing activity is prohibited due to several provisions within the German Criminal Code (StGB), including a specific reference to “phishing” under § 202b StGB:

Whoever, without being authorised to do so, intercepts data… which are not intended for them, either for themselves or another, by technical means from non-public data transmission or from an electromagnetic broadcast from a data processing facility incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine, unless the offence is subject to a more severe penalty under other provisions. Emphasis added.

More severe cases with imprisonment of up to five years can be implemented where “computer fraud” under § 263a StGB has occurred. Data espionage and handling stolen data can also result in prison sentences and fines under German law.

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our legal team uses leading IT forensics and other methods to pursue fraudsters and identify them. Our lawyers are experienced in conducting the necessary research and investigations. Once contacted, we will act quickly to ensure that they can mitigate any damage caused by the scam. Once we have identified the scammers, we will ensure that you are fully aware of your legal options and will oversee the legal case.

Defence Services in Phishing and Spoofing Cases

In cases where you have been accused of phishing, website spoofing, or other internet-based fraud, it is vital to consult an experienced criminal defence lawyer. As an ever-evolving area, it is not uncommon for accusations to be made against businesses or individuals. The investigating bodies can draw an incorrect conclusion due to a lack of technical knowledge, resulting in misunderstandings that must be clarified at all costs. Accusations of cybercrime can become particularly damaging for businesses and lead to the ruining of their reputation. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our experienced legal team is ready to advise you on such matters.

If you have been accused of fraud or are in danger of a summons, it is essential to know that you have the right to remain silent. Self-incrimination can occur if an accused is not briefed by a lawyer before answering the questions of the police. Amending statements is challenging, even for those with in-depth knowledge of the criminal law system.

Once you start working with our team, they will examine the case from all angles and aim to create a suitable defence strategy. It is often possible to resolve the matter out of court. An out-of-court solution can avoid time-consuming and expensive court proceedings and adverse reporting. However, the best means of approaching the issue is always case-based. Therefore, providing our lawyers with as much information as possible and ensuring they are fully aware of the facts allows them to create the best possible criminal defence.

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Practice Group: German Intellectual Property & Business Criminal Law

Practice Group:
German Intellectual Property &
Business Criminal Law

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Matthias Wurm, LL.M.

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Martin Halfmann, LL.M.