Warning: Scams Directed at Colorado Attorneys
The Colorado Bar Association has been provided information about these scams through its members and has created this page to help alert all members to potential dangers.
Communication from the Colorado Bar Association
The Colorado Bar Association does not initiate contact by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels.
The CBA does not:
Request detailed personal information through email
Send any communication requesting usernames, passwords, logins, or similar account access information
Send any requests for credit cards numbers, banks or other financial accounts.
If you receive such a request claiming to be from the CBA, please NEVER click on any links, images, or attachments contained within the message and immediately permanently DELETE the message.
If you ever receive a phone call from an individual claiming to be from the CBA who is requesting credit cards numbers or other bank account information, ask the caller for a first and last name and a callback number. The ONLY correct main number to call back to reach an employee of the CBA is 303-860-1115. We do have direct access lines but if you question the legitimacy of a call please use our main number to call back and be connected to a staff member.
Tips to help you spot a phishing scam:
Spelling and bad grammar—Scammers are notorious for crafting poorly written messages riddled with misspellings. This is an obvious first clue the message is not coming from a legitimate company.
Mismatched links—Get in the habit of placing your mouse cursor over (but do NOT CLICK) a link or image before deciding to click. If the link that appears in the popup “tool tip” box doesn’t match or looks suspicious do NOT click it.
Threatening language—Never take the bait and react to an “urgent” message informing you of a compromised account or an account that will be closed unless you “click to on the link to reset your password” or reply to the message with information about how to access your account.
As with all things in life, apply common sense to the situation. Take time to research and only respond once you’re comfortable the requests being made are not with malicious intent.
Scam Directly Links Attorneys and Clients
We're posting this information because this scam is directly linking attorneys and their clients.
Here's how the scam works:
The client receives a phone call.
The caller ID shows the number belongs to the attorney.
The client is told that they need to pay additional money.
The client is then given a toll-free number to call.
When the client calls, they are directed as to how to pay the money.
The scam works through a process called "Caller ID Spoofing." "Spoofing" allows a caller to create a new caller ID for their phone. Previous "spoofing" scams, for example, have involved callers using a number that belongs to the IRS.
What makes this most recent case especially troubling is that the scammers have linked the attorney with the client. While this information may be publicly available through court documents, we have not seen it used in this way. This recent case involved bankruptcy court and the client was told they needed to pay more money to a creditor. Fortunately, the scam was caught in time and no money was lost.
Attorneys should consider advising clients about the potential for this type of scam and to make sure they double check before any additional money is sent. If this happens to you and your client, please file a report with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.ic3.gov.
Fraudulent Emails from Triple-S Steel Holdings, Inc.
A Denver attorney received fraudulent emails from Triple-S Steel Holdings, Inc., as well as the UK company Barrett Steel Limited. Although they are real companies, the information in the emails is not. The attorney found a post on avoidaclaim.com discussing similar fraudulent emails that used a different company name, but an identical phone and fax number, as well as the same email content.
Fraudulent Emails from Stefans Nikolajs
An attorney in Denver reported receiving an email from Stefans Nikolajs requesting legal representation. After doing more research, the attorney found this name is used in other reported email scams. Read more about this scam here.
Fraudulent Emails Claiming to be from IRS
An email that purports to be from the IRS regarding electronic quarterly tax payments on the IRS’ system called EFTPS have been received by Colorado attorneys. Read more about this scam here.
Colorado attorneys have received emails purporting to be from efax, with a generic subject line, such as Corporate efax message – 2 pages. The email looks similar to efax emails, but it is a scam. The firm that received the email does not use eFaxes, so it was already on guard. Read more about this scam here.
Fraudulent Emails from AmEx
Colorado attorneys have reported receiving emails purporting to be from American Express that contains an “account alert.”
Fraudulent Emails related to Google Accounts
A Colorado attorney received the following email:
Your Attorney Webmail account has been suspended because of unusual invalid login attempts into your Attorney Webmail. You may experience inability to send and receive new messages. To restore your Attorney Webmail account, please click on the link below and complete the form. [Followed by a link]
Click on the link above (or copy and paste the Attorney Webmail google URL address into your web browser) to complete the form.
Thank you for co-operation.
Bar Association Technical Support (USA)
This attorney did not have a Google account and the signatory appears to be a professor at a university, not a member of the Google support staff.
Fraudulent British Solicitor Study Program
The CBA has been alerted to a scam involving the purchase of a study program for attorneys to become British Solicitors. If approached to participate in a similar program, please use all precautions to ensure authenticity.
West Virginia Bar Warns Memebers of Lawyers' Identities Being Stolen for Fake Websites, Solicitations
The West Virginia State Bar recently warned its members of a scam involving lawyers' identities. The following was sent to WVSB members via email:
"The State Bar has been notified of a recent scam in which the identity of a Texas attorney, who had not practiced in years, was used to set up a fake law firm website using the attorney's maiden name, former office address, and portions of her professional biography. Yesterday, the State Bar received a call from one of our current members regarding the use of her name and professional information to solicit legal work. You should be on the alert. If you become aware of the same, or a similar, situation involving your name/law firm you should immediately contact local authorities to report the incident. Additionally, you should contact the Office of Disciplinary Council to advise them of the situation. The ODC does not have the authority to pursue non-lawyers. However, the ODC should be on notice of the incident if a potential victim, who mistakenly thinks that you are their lawyer, files a claim against you. Lastly, be sure to closely monitor your credit report or bank accounts to ensure that your identity is not the only thing being stolen."
Isaacson Goldberg and Warner Fraud
A new scam was recently brought to the attention of the CBA concerning a group of folks posing as an international law firm with an office in California. They are looking for temporary staff to assist on an upcoming trial scheduled in Denver. They are operating under the name of Isaacson Goldberg and Warner. They have a website and sound very knowledgeable but they don’t exist. The FBI and police have been notified about them as well.
Click here for an article about Isaacson Goldberg and Warner fraud.
Lawyers Targeted by New Form of the 'Nigerian Scam'
Lawyers in Oklahoma are reporting that they are receiving emails in which the writer states he or she was referred to the lawyer by the state bar association. Oklahoma, like the Colorado Bar Association, does not operate a referral service; it has a lawyer directory search. Read more about this scam here.
Emails Claim Other Lawyers Referred to the Firm
An Englewood-based firm recieved the following email from a writer whose address was in Germany and claimed to be with the company ZeligSteel AG:
I have referral from Attorney Owen H. Orndorff to contact you for legal service. I have been advised that there is need for conflict check before representation. However, let me know the information needed for conflict purposes and will email them to you accordingly.
It is my intention to proceed without further delay and I will appreciate a prompt response from you.
An attorney at the firm replied to this email asking for more information and that was given by the potential client. After running conflicts they Googled the address and the search found the "referring"attorney in Ohio.
The firm called the law firm Owen H. Orndorff to confirm the referral as stated in the email and the assistant said they do not know any business in Germany and do not know this person or company. The firm's attorney called the opposing party and spoke with the Sales Manager, who informed the attorney that their company does not do business with ZeligSteel.
The firm also researched the IP address and found that it was not “blacklisted” but found it listed in the British, Virgin Islands. The firm does not know what the intent was behind this scam, but just wants members to beware.
Commercial Debt Collection Scam Using the Names Kazuhiro Hirahara and Hinode Electric Co
Lawyers in the Denver area have reported this email getting through their spam filters. This is a classic bad cheque scam that presents as legal matter requiring the assistance of a lawyer. In this scam lawyers will be duped into wiring real funds from their trust accounts after depositing a fake cheque received as payment from the debtor (who is part of the fraud). Read more about the scam here.
More sophisticated version of the infamous Nigerian prince scam
Here is a description of this new scam from a California bar association alert.
Letter from UBS directed to Attorneys
Here is an example of the scam UBS letter being distributed.
Letter from Charles Bloomberg directed to Attorneys
Here is an example of the scam email and follow up interaction from a Mr Charles Bloomberg about selling an oil drilling rig.
Commercial Debt Collection Scam directed to Attorneys
Here is an example of the commercial debt collection scam directed to attorneys. Please note this scam has been reported using various names.
Escrow Services Email Scam directed to Attorneys
Here is an example of the Escrow Services scam directed to attorneys. Please note this scam has been reported using various names.
If you have learned about a scam that you would like to alert members to, please contact Alexa Drago at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will post information about a scam for one year, unless we have been notified that the type of scam is one that continues to target members.