Management Assistance Program
Text Message Scams – June 29, 2023
Your smartphone notifies you that you have transferred money via PayPal. Since you have transferred no money recently, that merits a reaction. So, you click on the link in the message to straighten things out, right? No! Stop!
A rule of using the internet is anytime you get an email or text message prompting you to do something urgently, the first thing you should do is stop and take a deep breath. Scams by text messages are increasing. Whether it is money being taken from you or an email from “OBA” notifying you a client has filed a grievance and you should click to learn the client’s name, the more urgently you want to react, the more likely you should pause first. And, no, the OBA does not notify lawyers of grievances that way.
When was the last time you had a problem because you delayed responding to an unexpected email from a stranger? Never, right?
And if you are worried about your PayPal account or any other account, log in the way you normally would check your records. Do not click on a link in the message you have received, even if it purports to be from PayPal or your bank. For more information on this text message scam, see "Watch Out for This PayPal Text Message Scam" from tech.co.
Ransomware Coming on Strong! – June 22, 2023
March 2023 broke ransomware attack records, according to Bleeping Computer. Many observers believe that powerful new artificial intelligence tools will allow criminals to mount even more sophisticated malware attempts. Protect your firm by applying all security updates, requiring password managers and two-factor authentication (2FA) and implementing other security tools. For more information read Sharon Nelson’s post "Ransomware Coming on Strong in 2023!"
FBI Alert – June 30, 2022
Attorney trust account scam promises high-dollar commissions on medical equipment purchases. The scam has resulted in approximately $2 million in losses to date.
Click here to learn more.
You may have been taught in the past that cashier's checks are just as good as cash. That is not the case today because forged cashier’s checks are often indistinguishable from real ones.
Oklahoma lawyers are being targeted – don’t let it happen to you. OBA MAP Director Jim Calloway says it's a new version of an old scam.
Jim Calloway breaks it down so you know what to look out for:
- You receive an unusual communication out of the blue where someone has decided to hire your law firm. Often it is for something that your firm doesn't even normally handle. But they offer a flat fee of $10,000 or more.
- The criminals send you a large cashier's check for your fee. Other variations on the theme include large cashier’s checks to purchase equipment.
- The deal somehow goes bad; the equipment was sold to another buyer, or the party whose suit you were going to defend dismisses the suit.
- The “client” is sorry for the trouble and says while you need to return the money promptly, you should keep $5,000 or $10,000 for your trouble when you often have done little or no work. The lawyers wire the balance back.
- A week or so later, the law firm gets a notice that their trust account is overdrawn because the initial huge cashier's check was a forgery and bounced. It takes a while to catch this because it is a forgery on an actual account like a mortgage company clearinghouse account that has millions of dollars in it. So the person who reviews the checks coming in is the one who will ultimately catch it.
- The lawyer may not appreciate that cashier’s checks from strangers are not as good as cash today because of these scams and also doesn’t know it could take a while to discover a forged cashier's check in an often churning escrow account. It is rarely possible to reverse a wire transfer if done in a few hours. But by the 24-hour mark, that money will have been wired through several accounts and is gone for good. That could lead to financial difficulties and even disciplinary action. Don’t let this happen to you!
The FBI urges firms or victims of an internet scam to file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.