Today I share news from the State Bar of Arizona about a new spoofing scam that is afoot.

If that sentence sounds funky to you, it’s because it’s simply a new and different way to “exploit the attorney/client relationship and defraud consumers of their money.”

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorYou can read all the information here.

And if your outlook was not fraught enough, turn to this helpful piece on additional cybersecurity tech tips to avoid getting “the willies.” The risks include ransomware, pfishing, and even the threat your own employees may represent.

Finally, here is my previous coverage of a panel discussion last summer that managed to cause quite a few willies. Live and learn.

scam alert roadsign sign

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KeepCalmReportPhishingThe following news arrives via John Phelps, the State Bar of Arizona CEO/Executive Director. He writes on a topic that should be of great interest to most all lawyers: scams aimed at those in the legal profession. Such efforts have been around for quite awhile, but as John writes, “This latest twist is just another reminder that you have to be constantly vigilant with your
business practices
.”

Here’s John opening on the topic:

We want to warn you about a phishing scam that is directed at lawyers. The latest twist is that the scam email is mentioning IOLTA accounts. The email implies that the account doesn’t have enough money to pay an outstanding check. It then asks for the attorney to contact the sender to clear up the matter.

Scammers are always looking for new ways to find victims. They’re hoping that by creating confusion, you’ll provide them with information they can use to access your account and steal your money. Always take a moment to read the email carefully. If it claims you have an outstanding problem, contact your own banking institution. If you do contact the sender, do not give them any account information.

Read the entire article here.

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.)

A news release from the State Bar of Arizona yesterday warns lawyers—and others—about a scam that comes, goes, and is back again.

As the Bar’s Rick DeBruhl describes it, the scam leads the unwary into sending money directly into the hands of criminals. The Bar has warned about this in the past, but it bears repeating.

Here is the beginning of the news item. Read the complete piece here.

A Scam Aimed at Stealing Money from Lawyers is Surging Through Arizona Again

By Rick DeBruhl, Chief Communications Officer
June 27, 2011

“While the details vary, the basics remain the same. Sometimes the lawyer is contacted by someone who claims to want representation (often it involves a divorce or business settlement). At the beginning of the relationship, the lawyer is sent a check from the alleged client as a retainer. Shortly after the check has been deposited the client explains that he needs a portion or all of the money returned (sometimes because the bogus case “settled” before the lawyer had a chance to take action). The lawyer dutifully returns the money, only to find out that the original check has bounced and now the bank wants the funds returned. …”

The complete release is here.