E-mail Scams Targeting Attorneys
One would think that Internet scammers would target individuals that they would view as being naive or easy targets. However, that hasn’t been the case recently, as more and more e-mail scammers have expanded from preying on individuals such as Craigslisters as their victims to now prey on attorneys. The whole premise sounds unbelievable at first. Afterall, aren’t the attorneys the ones that are out there protecting the general public?? Well according to a recent article by the California Bar, numerous attorneys have fallen for these E-mail scams and landed in deep trouble.
I, personally, have received over a dozen of these E-mails, and I’ll be honest, I first read them with excitement. But after a few minutes, I had to wonder… was this all too good to be true. Luckily, I had colleagues who immediately informed me that these E-mails were most likely scams and that there were signs one could look for to weed out the scam E-mails.
Just take a look at this E-mail that was sent to me earlier today…
My name is Zaira Hoshiko. I am contacting your firmin regards to enforcement/collection of divorce settlement or possible litigation with my ex husband Allen Hoshiko who resides in your jurisdiction. If you are in the position to represent me at the moment kindly advice immediately, Contact me at my private email address: [email protected]
Now here are the top ten clues according to Attorney Brett J. Trout, P.C., to watch out for when you receive E-mails targeting you or your legal practice…
1. Is the email addressed to you, or provided with a generic salutation? Even a scammer should have access to a mail merge program. If they did not even bother to use your actual name, you can feel pretty comfortable passing on the opportunity.
2. Is the request for assistance outside your area of expertise? I am a patent attorney. A request for collection services on a divorce proceeding should be a clear indicator that something is amiss.
3. Does the request lack specifics? “your jurisdiction”? Who says that? More than likely someone sending one email to multiple “jurisdications.”
4. Does the email use strange legal terminology” A Google search of “collaborative participation law agreement” returns “Attorney Email Scams” as the first hit.
5. Does the email use round number? While there are divorce proceedings which result in one spouse owing the other $900,000.00 exactly, round numbers are the stock and trade of internet scammers.
6. Does the email contain spelling and/or grammatical errors? Scammers are notoriously bad spellers. More than a couple errors should raise your suspicion.
7. Is the email coming from a foreign country? The United States is fairly aggressive when it comes to Internet wire fraud. Unless the sender has a confirmed U.S. address, you should proceed with utmost caution.
8. Is there some indication how the email sender found you? If you do not have a verified mutual acquaintance, the odds the sender is a scammer are dramatically increased.
9. Does the email detail a transaction where money is already owed and you are merely being asked to collect, receive or transfer it? This not only acts as an attractive lure, it is also critical to the operation of the scam.
10. Does the deal sound fishy? Take a step back. Is there anything about you or your practice that would make you uniquely suited to resolving the problem outlined in the email? If not, it is likely a scam.
Please be careful when you receive E-mails that exhibit the traits described above. The best thing to do is to google the name of the “writer” of the email and also type “scam” into your search to see if the E-mail you received comes up on the internet. If it comes up, then it’s most likely a scam. And always remember, do not give your personal information away, including your bank account or client trust account number. Stay safe!!!