When it comes to Internet scams, the criminal minds behind the scenes use a tried-and-true approach: the shotgun approach.

Why develop a strategy to target those who may be most susceptible to scams when you have the ability to send your devious disaster to thousands or tens of thousands of recipients. The law of averages means that a significant number will bite.

And no, lawyers are not immune to clicking through—to a perilous result.

This past month, an email came sailing through our offices. And judging by the email addresses that were visible in the recipient line, a lot of lawyers received it too. I whited out sensitive items, but here’s what we saw (click to make it larger):

And the phone number at the bottom? It probably works. So don’t take it as reassuring that a real person answers the phone; he or she is likely there to take your money, too.

You know who is pretty adept at undermining scams like this? The Internal Revenue Service. Here is how they explain phishing:

“Phishing (as in “fishing for information” and “hooking” victims) is a scam where Internet fraudsters send e-mail messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity. Current scams include phony e-mails which claim to come from the IRS and which lure the victims into the scam by telling them that they are due a tax refund.

“The good news is that you can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. If you receive a suspicious e-mail that claims to come from the IRS, you can relay that e-mail to a new IRS mailbox, phishing@irs.gov. Follow instructions in the link below for sending the bogus e-mail to ensure that it retains critical elements found in the original e-mail. The IRS can use the information, URLs and links in the suspicious e-mails you send to trace the hosting Web site and alert authorities to help shut down the fraudulent sites. Unfortunately, due to the expected volume, the IRS will not be able to acknowledge receipt or respond to you.”

For more detailed instructions from the IRS, click here.

At Arizona Attorney Magazine, we’ve covered scams like this before. Here is a column from then-State Bar President Alan Bayham Jr. on a sophisticated pitch that involved a supposedly genuine check for legal services. (It’s also visible below.)

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