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Notice to Members: Beware of Email Scams

One of our members received the attached email purporting to relate to ongoing Federal Court matters. It is fairly clear from the peculiar language of the e-mail, as well as the sender’s address, that they are scams, but the possibility exists that a member, or support staff, with ongoing Federal Court matters may click an included link out of inadvertence. For example, there was a hyperlink associated with the highlighted “View your case details” in the e-mail below that are likely viruses, malware, data theft, corruption, or worse.

Scam email

We have also received additional reports of fraudulent emails being sent to our members and other jurisdictions. In these scams, the fraudsters pose as individuals working in law firms or as clients/clients’ lenders, with the goal of tricking lawyers into transferring trust funds to them.

In an example of a “direction to pay” scam, the fraudster “spoofs” a lawyer’s email address, making it appear that the email is sent from that lawyer by displaying their actual name in the “From:” line. The email asks another lawyer or staff member to transfer funds on some pretext such as urgency, the need for extreme sensitivity or because the lawyer is away. In the phony “change in payment instructions” scam, the fraudster sends revised payment instructions by email from someone that the lawyer or law firm believes is the client. In both cases, the emails may be very convincing, so due diligence is a must before transferring any funds out of a trust account.

If you or your law firm receive any request to transfer funds or any change in payment instructions, consider the possibility that a fraudster is at work. Ensure that the instructions are legitimate through direct, in-person contact with the client by verified client contact information.