Back in March I got an email from someone claiming to be a Boston-based intellectual property attorney working for the law firm of Arthur Davidson. The email was poorly formatted and had some other errors that made me think the email might not be from a legitimate attorney’s office. The email also happened to arrive on a day when I was feeling particularly grumpy so I decided to do a little sleuthing to see if I could unravel what I was fairly certain was a scam designed to get me to put a link to a nefarious website on my blog.
There were a lot of routes that I could have taken to pulling back the curtain on this scam. As you can see in the video that I made about it, I unraveled the scam by using some context clues which led me to then use some research tools including WHOIS lookup, reverse image search, Google Maps, and the Wayback Machine.
In April I discovered that a few other folks had gotten the same email from Arthur Davidson and decided to also unravel the scam. So much so that that the scammers switched from using the domain ArthurDavidson.com to ArthurDavidsonLegal.com.
June Update and Conclusion…for now
Just out of curiosity I checked to see if ArthurDavidsonLegal.com was still being used to try to run a backlinking scam. It turns out that the website has been suspended by the host. I’m guessing that enough people or the right person complained to the hosting service and got the site suspended for running a fraud.
If the name Arthur Davidson sounds familiar to you outside of the context of a fake legal firm, you probably have an interest in motorcycles and or you teach U.S. History. Arthur Davidson was one of the founders of Harley Davidson. Did the scammers who set up the fake legal firm of ArthurDavidson.com and ArthurDavidsonLegal.com know who Arthur Davidson was? Possibly. Did they choose those domains to attempt to rank well in search results? Probably, but I have no way of knowing that for sure.
You can learn more about the real Arthur Davidson and the founding of Harley Davidson Motorcycles in this nice Google Arts and Culture story.