Firms get scam spam

March 10, 2010
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If you get a grammatically incorrect and misspelled e-mail from someone asking if you’d represent them in a case, chances are it’s a scam. Luckily the Indiana attorneys who received these e-mails recognized that right away.

In fact, it’s a scam the FBI warned law firms about in January. It’s a twist on the counterfeit check schemes – someone wants you to deposit a check, keep some money, and then send the rest back to them. But the checks are never legitimate and the gullible person now finds their wallet lighter.

The Bloomington law firm Ferguson & Ferguson received this e-mail in multiple times in the last few weeks. Associate Michael McBride said the firm started receiving them in late January in a cluster of two or three at a time, and then would receive a few more weeks later. They last received the scam e-mail Feb. 22.

The e-mails went to the firm Web site’s “General Questions” form, seeking large collections against real Indiana companies. The senders claimed to not speak English well, thus explaining the grammatical errors and misspellings littering the e-mails. The firm did a little digging and discovered they were coming mostly from South America and Asia, and the e-mail addresses had just been created within the last month or so. McBride said everything just seems slightly off about them.

Josh Brown, an associate at S.K. Huffer & Associates in Carmel, said his firm received a scam e-mail Jan. 26 from a woman claiming to be in Spokane, Wash., who was looking for counsel to represent her home-building company in a breach of contract suit in Indiana. The first thing Brown found odd was the woman signed the e-mail “Diana L.” When he learned everyone else in the firm also received the e-mail directly, he decided to do a little research. With the help of Google, he found a phone number and got a hold of a woman. But it wasn’t Diana. It was the actual owner of the builder, who said more than 30 attorneys had called her in the past day about the e-mail. Turns out the company was legitimate, but it wasn’t active in building anymore. The owner didn’t know who was sending the e-mails.

After Brown confirmed the scam, he contacted the Indiana State Bar Association and the local FBI branch to let them know. Carissa Long with the ISBA said the bar typically publishes notice of the scams in their membership-wide e-newsletter.

Brown said there are some law firms that conduct business only through e-mail, so they could be more susceptible to these kinds of scams that thrive on electronic communication. Just a quick phone call to the person in the e-mail or an Internet search could prevent the firm from falling victim to one of these scams.

“When red flags pop up, pay attention to those,” Brown said.

Brown had received only that one scam e-mail in January, but just this morning called to tell me that he got an e-mail from a guy claiming to be on house arrest in a foreign country who needed help protecting his $27 million. Something tells me Brown won’t be offering his assistance or bank account.
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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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