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The Board of Bar Overseers (BBO), the administrative body responsible for conducting investigations into complaints filed against lawyers, recently sent notice alerting Bar members of two e-mail scams that have been targeting attorneys.

One of the scams affects real estate closings. According to the BBO, scammers have been sending emails to closing attorneys that appear to be sent from the seller or the seller’s attorney. These emails provide instructions on where and how to wire the monies upon closing. The funds are then redirected to the scammer.

The other scam involves malicious software that harms computer systems by stealing data, deleting documents or adding software not approved by the user. The email containing the malware appears to be from the Board of Bar Overseers or a bar group and typically contains subject lines that immediately catch attention by stating that a disciplinary complaint has been filed or that an individual or group owes money.

Both scams described above are examples of “phishing” – a term that refers to con artists trying to steal personal information. These scams involve e-mails or pop-ups, sometimes from people or businesses you’ve worked with, to government agencies.  The e-mails might use urgency, using language such as “immediate attention required.” Fall for it and scammers may be able to obtain personal, financial, or confidential information, resulting in identity theft, damage to your financial assets, or even damage your personal reputation.

How can you avoid these scams? The BBO recommends:

  • If you are emailed a change in instructions as to where proceeds are to be wired, check! Call the sender or the attorney’s sender at the contact information you know is legitimate and ask.
  • Contact the BBO if you receive an email you have a question about—and don’t open any links until you’ve confirmed its authenticity. The BBO states that unless there is a problem with your mailing address, it is unlikely that the first notification you would receive of a new disciplinary complaint would be by email.
  • If the email is fraudulent, notify the BBO and contact the FBI or local law enforcement.

 

How can you avoid being the victim of a phishing email?:

  • Never provide personal information in e-mails! A legitimate financial institution would never ask you to verify your account information online. Make sure to contact your institution with a phone call or in person.
  • Make sure to monitor your emails – immediately delete those that look suspicious and set up filters to keep distrustful ones out of your mailbox.
  • Make sure to confirm with the individual or business sending you e-mails that they sent them – if an e-mail looks questionable or contains questionable content, confirm with the sender that it is legitimate.

 

 

For more information on these scams, to report one, or for questions about your responsibilities as a Bar member, please call the BBO at (617)728-8767.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Program and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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