If you’re someone who snags random images off the internet, you might be infringing on someone else’s copyright. Therefore, getting either a cease and desist or an email like the one I am about to share with you isn’t all that uncommon.
When I first got this email I thought, “Oh shoot, did one of our writers randomly grab someone else’s image off the internet?”
At CRCO, we’re very aware and diligent about not using other peoples work without permission, or paying for a licensed image. That’s when I reached out to the writer of the above said article who quickly shot back the licensing info from Adobe Stock Images.
Title: Family with kids in the mountains
At first, I simply thought Alice Eyman didn’t realize the photo was legally licensed. When I looked up our license for that photo on Adobe, the creator was not Alice Eyman, it was famveldman. Next, I popped over to The Watch Judge website to check out the team, Alice Eyman was not listed but Natasha, Simon, Mark and Sarah were.
Is the Watch Judge legit? I don’t know – it’s a little suspicious that the owners last names on not listed with their profile. Next, I looked up the address listed on their website which is a $12,000,000 house according to Zillow.
Shortly after I researched The Watch Judge I realized this was an SEO scam. Alice Eyman (not sure that’s even really a real person) is scamming site owners into thinking they are violating here nonexistent copyright to get a backlink for SEO purposes and it looks like the tactic is fairing pretty well.
After diving deeper into The Watch Judge, their revenue model based on affiliate marketing, specifically, driving traffic to Amazon.com. Affiliate Marketing is pay-for-performance marketing meaning The Watch Judge would get a commission from Amazon for each sale from The Watch Judge.
As you can see, the SEO scam is working. According to SEM Rush, The Watch Judge is collecting an estimated 4,600+ users per month from search. This doesn’t include referral traffic from the unsuspecting victims giving illegitimate credit to Alice and Watch Judge.
While researching backlinks to The Watch Judge I saw they at some point had TheWatchList.io as their domain name which is now redirected into TheWatchList.com. The Watch List.io also has a healthy list of websites scammed along with private blog networks designed to influence rankings.
In conclusion, you have to take unsolicited emails like the one we received with a grain of salt. In the case of The Watch Judge, it was good we decided to dig in a little bit more so we could see a clearer picture of the overall scam that includes SEO and Affiliate Marketing through Amzon.com.