Firms get scam spam

March 10, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
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.
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

ADVERTISEMENT