How Can They Do That? A Case of Website Scraping

My Marketing Strategy
Nicolette Lemmon, President & Founder

Because of the Google Alerts that I monitor, a website crime was discovered using LemmonTree’s website. The alert cited a “Well come to” and that raised my curiosity, so I clicked to it.

To my shock, a splash page led to a website that had pieces of our copy and design. The worst thing was that it looked to be a scam for selling a mutual fund.

Scraped site – Real site –

As I quickly emailed my web gurus on staff, I noticed that the site had a 2009 copyright. That made me even more incredulous that it had been up for some time and we had no idea.

After researching the domain name owner and the site IP, George, our e-marketing director, contacted the IP hosting the site to alert them to copyright violation.  He then reviewed the practice of “scraping.”

From Wikipedia, under site scraping it says, “Many scrapers will pull snippets and text from websites that rank high for keywords they have targeted.”  The purpose is to make it easier to create another website, but it is also used to gather copy from sites to gain traffic either for ad revenue or to target unsuspecting people for a scam.

In our case, with “credit union” and “financial services marketing” being prominent word searches, the people who set up the scam site wanted to get people to click into their site. There was an ad for a mutual fund, but not a legit one!

While it is still difficult to uncover a scammer site using a proprietary site’s copy, Google Alerts is a fantastic tool for monitoring your brand.  It is also helpful to monitor your personal identity as well.

What can you do to stop the scam site from using your copy? There are copyright laws that are broken, but it is critical to work with the web hosting company to shut the site down. This takes diligence in following up because the web hosting company must first contact their client to request they remove the material scraped from a copyright protected site. If the client does not, then the next action would be for the web hosting company to shut down the site.

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