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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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