Advice to those that want to scam lawyers

Advice to those that want to scam lawyers









About once a day, I get an e-mail that goes something like this:

Dear Counsel,
I'm requesting for your legal services for an enforcement of Spousal and
Child's support settlement agreement against my ex-husband. If you are
interested in rendering this service, please kindly advice immediately for
more details.

Yours truly
Marlene Cox

The content of the e-mail changes weekly, but it’s always something along these lines. Other times they will e-mail that “I am looking for an attorney to collect a debt in your jurisdiction.”

Much like people that prey on the desperate with promises of lottery winnings or Nigerian inheritances, the senders of these e-mails are hoping to find a lawyer that really, really needs a client. The typical scam involves them sending you a bogus cashiers check that you deposit and then they quickly tell you that they were able to resolve the case and ask you to send a refund of the money they sent you minus anything that you’ve billed. So if they send you a check for $5,000.00, you send back $4,500.00, only to discover later that your account has been overdrawn because the original check was bogus.

The other scam is to have you work on a contingency and actually contact a hypothetical defendant who is really them or their buddy. That person sends in a fake check to settle the case, you get a new real check before they know it and they are out a lot of money.

The problem for these scammers is many things:

For the most part, attorneys aren’t this stupid or desperate and ever the desperate ones are not that dumb.
We get flooded with these e-mails so even if you think one might be real, when you get the exact same e-mail from a different person the next five days in a row, it certainly proves it’s a scam.
The scammers have no idea how the system actually works. If you wanted to enforce child support via a Chicago attorney, you’d need an actual existing case and the attorney would check with the State and/or courts to verify what you are saying is true. So when you can’t answer any basic questions about “my jurisdiction” or what happened in the original case, you will be found out pretty quickly, if you are even lucky enough to get someone to respond to you in the first place.

So my advice to these scammers is that you either need to become way more sophisticated or just give up all together. I can tell you that many lawyers I know are not willing to engage with a client that is from overseas until they can verify many details with them. The first thing I think of when I get an overseas e-mail is that it’s a scam. Recently I got e-mailed from a guy with a long story about coming to the U.S. to tour many states when he was in a car accident in Chicago. It seemed legit, but I still had a skeptical eye until we verified that there was a police report.

It’s really amazing how many of these e-mails are sent. I would almost be proud to actually get scammed because it would have to be from someone who really put some time and thought in to it and was willing to risk going to jail by doing it while physically present in the U.S.

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