Protecting Yourself from Online Fraud
Over the last several weeks, our office has received numerous calls from victims of a fraudulent email scam. The email purports to originate from an attorney at our address and falsely promises to provide the recipient millions of dollars from a long-lost relative who shares the same last name:
This is a personal email directed to you and I implore that it be treated as such. I must solicit your Consent and assure you that I am contacting you in good faith and this proposal will be of mutual benefit. I Conall Malory, Counselor. I represented the late __________ until death, hereinafter referred to as my client who worked as an oil explorer in East London, He died in a car crash with his immediate family in London United Kingdom on the 15th of March 2013.
. . .
I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you have the same last name giving you the advantage so that the proceeds of his account can be transfered to you and then both of us can come to an agreement on how we can share the money when the tranfer of the fund to you is completed. I know there might be other persons out there with the same last name as my late client but my instinct tells me that I can trust you. Can I trust you for us to do this? I shall assemble all the necessary documents that will be used to back up your claim.
This “next of kin” email is a fraud, designed to scam recipients into paying the sender an advance fee. Our office has no connection with or knowledge of the fraud. Mallory Law Office, LLC has no attorney with the first name Conall; Conall Mallory is in fact a Lecturer at a British law school; and the fictitious last name “Malory” is spelled differently than “Mallory”.
If you have received a similar email, you should not respond. Before deleting the message, you may wish to open to the email, click the arrow near the reply icon, and click “report phishing” to notify GMail.
The false email above is a type of scam known as “phishing” – when criminals impersonate a legitimate business in order to trick you into providing money or personal or financial information. The Federal Trade Commission has some helpful tips on responding to phishing scams – most importantly, delete messages that ask you for personal information (such as bank account numbers or Social Security numbers.) You can also forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com.
Most importantly, remember the old truism: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.