Phishing for Lawyers

Email scams have been around nearly as long as email itself, whether it’s someone promising medical miracles in exchange for a “donation” or those inviting you to share in their million-dollar inheritance if only you can pay the “necessary” banking fees. But email scams aren’t reserved for the elderly or uneducated, and instead often target trained professionals, including attorneys.

The practice has become so prevalent that the State Bar of Texas maintains a regularly updated blog post detailing the latest attempts by online con artists to pluck money or otherwise victimize unwitting lawyers. While most of these scams prey on those who think they can make a quick buck, the latest scheme is somewhat different because the perpetrators are pretending to be regulatory officials inquiring about nonexistent disciplinary actions or false claims for bar dues.

The ABA Journal recently noted this latest twist in the seemingly never-ending parade of internet charlatans. According to the ABA’s Division of Bar Services, more than 50 lawyers in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia and Nevada have received the phishing emails, which contain subject lines indicating pending disciplinary matters, unpaid bar dues or increases in bar dues. The ruse doesn’t stop with the emails, however, as the ABA reports that fake state bar websites also have been used to make the scam more believable.

Fortunately, there have been no reports of this particular phishing expedition reaching Texas lawyers, but there’s no guarantee it hasn’t already happened. Getting scammed online can be embarrassing, which leads many people, including lawyers, to decide against reporting what happened to the appropriate legal authorities. That lack of action may help protect victims from further embarrassment, but it only makes it easier for it to happen again to someone else.

If you receive a phishing email or have been victimized by one, it’s best to report it to your local police department and notify the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, where you can quickly file a complaint without much hassle. Remember, there are bad people on the internet. Let’s be careful out there.

Posted: 7/12/2016 12:17:42 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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About This Blog

Thanks for stopping by On the Merits, the first blog from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics. On the Merits will take a close look at significant legal stories with an eye toward addressing the legal myths and misconceptions that turn up in news stories, movies, TV programs, websites, anonymous emails and other forms of mass communications. Our goal at On the Merits is to provide readers with a thoughtful examination of what the media and others are saying about the legal profession and to apply the frequently-absent context of how the legal system actually works.

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