Lawyers Have Lost $70M to ... Email Scammers
One will be prosecuted this fall
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 6, 2012 11:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Even lawyers can be taken in by email scams—and one US Postal Inspector estimates law firms have lost at least $70 million to such scams since 2009, the Wall Street Journal reports. Scammers email lawyers—known for their eagerness to gain new clients, often via the Internet—with a convincing tale of woe. The con artist says he needs the law firm's help collecting money from a legal settlement or debtor, then sends a sophisticated counterfeit cashier's check to the firm. All the lawyers have to do, the scammer explains, is take out their fee and return the balance of the check to an overseas account.

Only—as anyone familiar with email scams will probably have guessed—the check is actually no good. But many law firms have fallen for the trick and wired the money before realizing that. Con artists make the elaborate stories very believable, with authentic-looking insurance paperwork and contact information that leads back to other scammers, who vouch for the documents' legitimacy. "In hindsight it sounds like you're stupid if you got trapped, but while you're in it, it's very sophisticated," says one personal-injury attorney who was targeted by a ring that allegedly drained $32 million from law firms. Federal prosecutors are putting that scammer on trial in the fall.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Lawyers Have Lost $70M to ... Email Scammers is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 8 comments
Aug 6, 2012 7:59 PM CDT
Just because you have a college education doesn't mean that you're smart. I don't know about you, but I get multi-million dollar deals by email every day. Tomorrow I close on a deal for the Golden Gate Bridge! (Shh. Don't tell anybody! I might lose my $25 million dollar deposit.)
Aug 6, 2012 7:15 PM CDT
can't believe ANYONE would fall for these emails! seriously.
Aug 6, 2012 2:37 PM CDT
Darwin at work here!