This Website Will Steal Your Photos and Then Hack Your Computer

This Website Will Steal Your Photos and Then Hack Your Computer

The website WallPart (intentionally not linked to) claims to be "the world's largest online shop of posters...with over 10 billion images."  What they do not tell you is that their database is filled with stolen and copyrighted images from photographers around the world.  If this wasn't bad enough, the Poster Shop might actually be using these images to spam photographers who use their copyright take down form in what might be the most diabolical phishing scam of all time.  

I first heard about WallPart (also referred to as Poster Shop) a few months ago through one of my local wedding photography Facebook groups. Many friends of mine had actually found dozens of their wedding photographs up for sale through the poster printing website.  Everyone in that group was up in arms about their photographs being ripped off and sold for profit without their consent, and rightfully so.  

The recommended course of action was to contact the website immediately and demand that they remove their photos from the WallPart database or else legal action would be taken.  Fstoppers has articles covering stolen work in the past (remember when Lee Morris had his wedding images stolen by another wedding photographer?), but this situation is a bit different.  It turns out that the worst bit of advice for dealing with the Poster Shop would be to issue a cease and desist through their website.  If this sounds counter intuitive, read on.

According to the tumblr Peter and Company, the real business WallPart is involved in is not the selling of prints at all.  WallPart is actually not going to photographers' websites and stealing photos to sell on their store page.  Instead, they are simply pulling images from Google Images and displaying them as potential art work you can have printed on your own poster or wall art.  If you were to search for your name, brand, or image through their search box (which we highly recommend not doing), you are bound to find one of your images in their database.  Many of these images are banners, pngs, and advertisements that were never meant to be printed int he first place.  Furthermore, every image that is displayed on their search results page contains the exact same title and description found through Google's search function. Here are a few searches I did for "Chase Jarvis", "Trey Ratcliff", and of course I had to search "Patrick Hall" as well.  

Search Results for Chase Jarvis

Search Results for Trey Ratcliff

Search Results for Patrick Hall

As Peter and Company reports, it appears the sole purpose of this website isn't to sell prints at all (there does not appear to be any proof that actual sales are happening) but rather to target photographers who are featured on WallPart's website. Photographers are known to freak out when they find their images being used without their permission; it is a behavioral condition that has been reinforced in to our sole existence.  If and when a photographer does find their work on the website, they are without a doubt going to issue a cease and desist through WallPart's DMCA/Copyright link at the bottom of the page.  Strangely enough, this link at the bottom of the page is one of the only clickable links on the entire page which is not consistent with most legit ecommerce sites.  This contact form is the whole purpose of the Poster Shop's website.  The contact form is a phishing platform that is used to spam the user and potentially infect their computer with malware and who knows what other nasty adware and spyware.  

Throughout the website's existence, much of the functionality, search results, and contact forms have changed.  One day you can search for your name and find stolen images only to search 24 hours later and find the results page completely empty.  It's clear the site was never meant to run as a business and the functionality of it as a whole is pretty broken.  The site is currently hosted in Russia and has been known to change hosting domains in the past after being outed by tech savvy visitors. 

It is pretty sad to know that their are websites and companies out there like WallPart preying on photographers who are simply trying to protect and maintain the copyright on their own creations.  In today's world we can never be too sure where an email or contact form is actually sending or what personal data is being sent to a company in general.  In the case of The Poster Shop and other sites that are sure to follow, DO NOT VISIT THE SITE and give it traffic and by all means DO NOT FILL OUT ANY COPYRIGHT VIOLATION OR DMCA FORMS.  The website Change.org has started a petition to remove WallPart with over 50,000 supporters but there is no telling if the site will actually ever be banned forever.  

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26 Comments

Vladimir Ambia's picture

Download on MAC only, Sophos anti-virus and AdwareMedic after you have visited this site.

Julia Kuzmenko McKim's picture

Vladimir, I am on a Mac but still got a MalPhish and Trojan stuff from it...

Patrick Hall's picture

Julia, did you email them through the form or simply just visit the website? As far as I know no one is at risk just visiting it but if you got something from that site then that's even more scary.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Straight up devious.

Although, even if it was legit, I don't think I would be too concerned of someone selling posters generated from any image I had put up on the web - that poster would look awful.

The site will compromise Windows and OS X, it's using the Metasploit tool kit to look for vulnerabilities. At least it was a few weeks back when I got pointed to the site. It does this automatically upon first visiting the site and it's totally silent. The site has started to use the Zero Day exploits that was outed during the Hacking Team compromise from what I've been told. This site is not alone, but it's one of the more prominent one's in recent months for photographers as these type of sites are fairly wide spread on the web. It's been running since at least Jan probably even longer. So there's possibly a lot of compromised photographer's computers out there at the moment.

Man I have to chuckle at this because only photographers would flip out over some crappy image being used without their permission. Who would ever buy a poster with your picture from some unknown website? Especially a poster with a printed web quality image.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Exactly!! That was my point entirely. If someone wants to print a post from any of my images...go right ahead. It's going to look terrible :)

Patrick Hall's picture

Eh I dunno, you can find high res images online too. Here is an 8mp image retouched by Pratik Naik that could be printed as a poster:http://fovitech.pe/Interno/PRATIK-Scott-Hugh-Mitchell(WEB).jpg
People do post high res images online that they wouldn't want printed by another company.

Jason Ranalli's picture

Agreed, they do exist. Pratik knows his business better than I would but is there a need to post an image like that in full-res that's not behind a client-based password or anything?

But I would think for most folks meat-and-potatoes online postings they're not putting full-res stuff out there - or at least I don't see it from most folks.

Patrick Hall's picture

It just happens from time to time. Someone slips up and a high res image goes online, or another agency posts it to a server, or google finds that hidden link you posted for someone.

thanks for the 411 mate

...unless...they ARE making money off of the site, and you're in on it. This is actually just your ploy to STOP us from issuing DMCA's...

Patrick Hall's picture

Ha, selling prints for $5 a pop isn't going to make me enough money ever. But if you want to issue the DMCA letter, be my guest :)

Julia Kuzmenko McKim's picture

Jeff, check your computer for malware now - that's the price of the fame you might have paid Wallpart :D

Jeff Rojas's picture

Lol

I'm glad you wrote this. Just saw this posted by another photographer on Facebook who was very concerned about it.

petition? surely if the allegations stand their ground this could be checked out in a simple criminal investigation, no?

The site is sure dodgy but just to what an extent I can't tell, they seem to basically use bots to find the images for them to sell, certainly they tend to only take my images which come through my twitter feed rather than the ones I post internally or via facebook..

It is also a changing roster of my work they seem to have, a few weeks ago they had a lot of my flagship images but now I cant find a trace of them and they have just one of my concept pieces:

http://wallpart.com/poster/henry-clayton-ninja-s-twitter-46654918082

@Patrick - you might want to ask another rather famous female retoucher around here her experience with this site. I as well as a few others sniffed this site out in less than 5 minutes by viewing their HTML code, which included addresses in Russia... and code comments in Russian.

Also... so no one else needs to go there unnecessarily, I found their About Us page... rather entertaining ;)

"About Us

With WallPart, it’s easy to find the right images for every taste.
We help search among the million images worldwide.
Look you pictures of celebrities, photos of animals , screenshots or movie posters, the right images is always at your fingertips.
Choose what you want, and WallPart will print it for you.

Terms of Service

WallPart Respect the copyright of others.
This means we don't steal photos or images that other people have shared and pass them off as your own.
We have no base of images, and doesn't host and store the image on servers.
Wallpart.com only helps the user to find the images interesting him, the site uses data of the most known third-party search engines.
Process of search happens at user's browser.
The user himself makes search queries, all content displayed in a window of the browser is received from third-party search engines.
The displayed images are loaded from third-party servers, and aren't host on the site hosting.
When the user make the order, we get the image from the user, he is responsibility for use.
Wallpart.com doesn't bear responsibility for the images received from users. "

Audra McKean's picture

That Change.org petition is helping them instead of hurting them. Think of the traffic they are getting from that petition. That is, in fact, how I myself ended up on their site searching, and sure enough I found an image of mine that I have posted on Viewbug.com. So, yeah. Wonderful. I'm on a mac, and my virus software hasn't alerted me to anything... yet. Nor have I received anything weird. What a calculating little scam they have going. Friggin creepy. I mean, this image? It's of my 5 year old. The petition lead me right into their clutches. I searched, saw the image of my child, and of COURSE freaked out when I saw it, then contacted them demanding that they remove it. Afterwards, a friend sent me this article. If anything, this article needs to be sent to Change.org so that they know they are helping these people with their scam by drawing attention to them. They have more than enough signatures. In fact, maybe I'll do that now.

I learnt the hard way that you cannot trust any anti-virus software. I had an infection a couple of months ago just by visiting a website. Luckily I've noticed that dialog that popup up and asked me whether I would like to install a service, which was automatically acknowledged shortly afterwards. Upon examining this malware I found several reports in forums, however no mention at all from the big AV software vendors. Why? Because this virus automatically altered its signature with each infection and there is nothing any AV software can do against it.

So don't feel too safe. Those malwares that are detected by AV software is the one to worry least about.

Hi, I visited that site yesterday,I just read this, I'm scared, I don't want a virus in my PC, what could I do? Please help, do you think that the anti virus Avira could have protected my pc against this?

Hi, I visited that site yesterday,I just read this, I'm scared, I don't want a virus in my PC, what could I do? Please help, do you think that the anti virus Avira could have protected my pc against this?

Good article, but please note ... change.org is one of the worst spammers around. This cynical website sells your info to any number of scam "charities", and good luck extricating yourself from their malfeasance. Change.org is another in a long line of predatory websites that sucks people in and abuses them, so please be careful in directing people there as well.

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