Scams Targeting Attorneys Reported in Michigan

The State Bar of Michigan provides information about reported scams targeting lawyers, legal service providers and consumers of legal services. The Bar does not have the authority to investigate these scams. Here are some resources for reporting fraud schemes: 

Michigan Department of Attorney General

The Internet Crime Complaint Center

The Federal Trade Commission

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Your local police

Attorneys who have been targeted in a scam are recommended to file a police report with their local police agency. If the scam involves checks and/or banking, please also report this to your local US Secret Service field office. Additionally, attorneys are encouraged to share information regarding scams with the Michigan Cyber Command Center (MC3) for informational purposes. For complaints regarding network intrusions, account compromises, and/or ransomware, it is recommended that attorneys file a complaint with the MC3. The MC3 can be contacted at or 1-877-MI-CYBER.

If you believe you have been targeted in a scam that other Michigan attorneys should know about, please email after alerting authorities.

February 12, 2024

An apparent phishing scam was sent to some members of the State Bar of Michigan this afternoon, claiming to be from a Board commissioner. All Michigan attorneys are advised to be on high alert and not to respond to the email. The subject line of the fraudulent email is "State Bar of Michigan" and sent from the email address Lisa.hamameh(at) This is not a legitimate State Bar email format. Do not respond.

Members who did respond reported that they were asked for their Microsoft logins. Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission for recognizing scam emails.

July 20, 2022

The State Bar of Michigan has received reports of a fraudulent email being sent to Michigan attorneys. The email claims to be a GoFundMe to raise money for “Bob,” allegedly the child of a member of the State Bar of Michigan. The email includes the State Bar logo. The email is in no way connected to the State Bar of Michigan and it also does not appear to be connected to an actual GoFundMe effort. The email includes the subject line, “Bob Campaign” and is sent from a gmail account that claims to be the “Federal Bar Association.” The email is a scam.

June 8, 2022

The State Bar of Michigan has received reports of a fraudulent email being sent to Michigan attorneys. The emails are from a “Jacqui Salmon” (salmon with the subject “Request for Info – State Bar of Michigan.” The email is believed to be a phishing scam to solicit personal information. DO NOT respond to the email and DO NOT submit any personal information. A contact number included in the email is to a nonworking phone number. The email uses the name of an individual who previously worked for the American Bar Association and cites the State Bar of Michigan to try to trick recipients into replying or otherwise cooperating.

January 31, 2022

Attorney received an unsolicited email from a potential client allegedly located in Vancouver, British Columbia, stating that a restaurant owner in Novi failed to repay a loan of $250,000. The client provided a promissory note to the attorney and the attorney sent an engagement agreement, stating that the attorney would need a signed engagement letter and retainer to represent the client. The potential client then emailed the alleged restaurant owner, stating that he now has counsel. The restaurant owner replied that he would do his best to make the payment owed. The next day, the attorney received a UPS envelope from the alleged restaurant owner with a check for $89,000 as partial payment of the loan and the attorney’s retainer. The attorney became suspicious of the details in the check, including that the check was from a bank located in Ontario, California.

This appears to be a bad check scam in which the scammer provides a bad check to the attorney, which the attorney deposits in a trust fund and then issues a check from the fund to a third party who is also a part of the fraud.

November 23, 2021

A SBM attorney reported a scam regarding the purchase of construction equipment. The scammer claimed to be from Boca Raton, Florida, and reached out to her regarding representation for a Purchase Agreement for Construction Equipment. After signing the retainer agreement, the scammer indicated that he wanted to work through a broker to purchase the equipment. The scammer wanted to write the attorney a check, which the attorney would place in a trust account, and then issue a separate check from the escrow account to the broker. When the attorney inquired about this bizarre arrangement, she received no response; however, weeks later she received via certified mail a check with instructions on how to deposit the money and pay the broker through a Canadian bank. 

This appears to be a bad check scam in which the scammer provides a bad check to the attorney, which the attorney deposits in a trust fund and then issues a check from the fund to a third party who is also a part of the fraud.

June 29, 2021 

A Michigan attorney reported a scam involving a “business owner” claiming to need legal services to collect a large debt from a customer. The represented “business owner” claimed to be unpaid for goods/services in the amount of $198,850. The attorney was eventually told that the debtor agreed to pay the amount and would pay the attorney’s retainer directly. 

Instead, the debtor sent a check for the full amount ($198,850). The “business owner” asked the attorney to take out money for the retainer and then wire the remaining balance to him. There were many red flags, including the “business owner” wanting money to be wired to a third party, calling the attorney’s office with blocked phone numbers, and having very poor reception.

July 6, 2021 

Scammers are using the identity of Michigan attorneys, with their P# and demanding that they are owed money. Scammers often have a sense of urgency about receiving payment. Verify the attorney’s contact information in the SBM Member Directory and call their office to inquire about the charges. Do not provide any personal information or make a payment in response to a phone call or email without being certain you are in contact with the attorney’s office.

February 19, 2021 (updated)

Several Michigan attorneys have been targeted recently by scammers requesting escrow services for the purchase or lease of large items such as barges, yachts, excavation equipment, and even medical ventilators. When the attorney responds, the “seller” will provide documents such as the purchase agreement, escrow agreement, driver’s license, and passport. Once the check is received and deposited into the IOLTA or other trust account, the “seller” will press the attorney to remit the proceeds before the check actually clears, but after the funds are available in the account. Then the check will bounce and overdraft the account.  

December 21, 2020 

A Michigan attorney reports that he was contacted by someone purporting to be the president of a Georgia-based company about a possible breach of contract action involving a company in Detroit. Both the out-of-state and the in-state companies appear to exist, however, no one legitimately associated with either was involved in this case. The scammer indicated that the debtor would make the retainer payment, though the firm informed him they do not accept payment from an opposing party. Shortly after this exchange, the firm received an envelope bearing Canadian postage and an Ontario return address. The envelope included a suspicious check and a letter printed on letterhead featuring a Detroit address. The attorney independently looked up and contacted the alleged debtor, who said he has never done business with the Georgia company and does not bank with the financial institution named on the suspicious check. He also indicated this was not the first time he had been contacted about an alleged debt owed to this company.  

October 15, 2020

Recent scams reported to SBM include situations where scammers targeted law firms by posing either as potential clients or party to litigation with a firm client. In one case, the phony client claimed he was sexually harassed at work and then wrongfully terminated. The scammer indicated that he had signed a severance agreement and needs help enforcing it against his former employer, with all payments to be made to the attorney. In another case, a scammer offered to make a payment to the firm's client and sought bank/wire information from the firm. Always be suspicious of unexpected attempts to get your financial information.

October 8, 2020

At least one attorney has reported a lawyer impersonation scam. The scammer is posing as the unsuspecting attorney and using the attorney’s name to extort unsuspecting potential clients.

December 11, 2020 update: A scammer pretending to be a Michigan attorney called an elderly woman and told her to send money because her grandson had been in a car crash and injured a pregnant woman. The scammer said the young man was going to go to jail unless they could pay off the pregnant woman right away. The story was false, and designed to trick the grandmother into sending money to the scammer. 

September 28, 2020

A scammer claiming to have been referred "by the Bar Referral Services" has contacted at least one Michigan attorney recently. This is a scam and is in no way affiliated with the State Bar of Michigan's Lawyer Referral Service (LRS). The State Bar of Michigan directly notifies attorneys participating in the Lawyer Referral Service about potential client matches, and attorneys have to be LRS panel members before they would receive a referral. Attorneys should treat emails from anyone claiming to have been referred by the Bar as suspicious.

October 15, 2020 update: Another lawyer reported a similar email, in which the scammer claimed to have found their information in the "online bar directory." While it is common for potential clients to use the Attorney Search to find a lawyer, in this case the inquiry was not legitimate.

July 20, 2020

Michigan lawyers should be on high alert, as scammers are impersonating State Bar of Michigan leadership in an effort to collect gift cards. The emails usually have a subject line of “STATE BAR of MICHIGAN REQUEST” and are sent from an email address that is clearly not associated with SBM. The State Bar of Michigan will never contact you to ask for gift cards. If you receive such an email, you should not reply. We are working with law enforcement to stop this scam. Here are some tips from the Federal Trade Commission for recognizing scam emails and more information about scams involving gift cards.

July 29, 2020, update: A lawyer reported to SBM receiving a similar email purportedly from another Michigan lawyer requesting iTunes gift cards. The email came from a hotmail email address and included a professional signature for the lawyer. The language in the email contained typos and grammatical mistakes. 

March 11, 2020

Scammers are using the COVID-19 situation to lure unsuspecting consumers.The U.S Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a branch of the Department of Homeland Security, warns individuals to be aware of potential scams related to the coronavirus. This includes emails containing malicious attachments and/or links to fraudulent websites that could result in theft of sensitive personal data or donations to non-existent charities or causes.

Among the CISA recommendations:

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments
  • Use trusted sources for up-to-date, fact-based information about COVID-19
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information
  • Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations

February 28, 2020

In another suspected scam affecting at least one Michigan attorney, a metropolitan Detroit lawyer reported that he was approached via email by a man seeking his help in a supposed dog-bite case. The attorney told the State Bar of Michigan that he received an email from Anthony Stuart Wilcox, who claimed he was an American citizen working in Germany. Wilcox said he was from Fayetteville, Ga., but was bit by a dog while visiting Southfield.

About a month after asking for more information, the attorney received a second email that included pictures of the supposed dog bite and a purported $250,000 insurance settlement agreement with the dog’s owner. Wilcox said he had not been paid and opted to seek legal assistance to get the money. Dog-bite cases always raise red flags, the attorney said. In this instance, he was skeptical about the alleged insurance settlement—most homeowner policies contain exclusions for dog bites and the dog’s owner would have had to purchase a policy specifically covering dog bites.

As is the standard practice in his office, the attorney and his colleagues dug further into the case and discovered differences in the origins of Wilcox’s two emails and a discrepancy between the dog owner’s name and email address. He didn’t hear from Wilcox after the second email.

March 4, 2020, update: The lawyer who reported this scam told the State Bar of Michigan the initial inquiry came from an email with a domain, which corresponds with the University of Quebec Trois-Rivières branch. This week, the layer found in the firm’s junk mail folder an email from the same domain asking if the office is accepting new cases.

February 21, 2020

Multiple Michigan attorneys reported recently that they have been contacted as part of an apparent scam targeting law firms. The scam, which has been well documented already in Texas, involves a fraudulent check or wire transfer. In the Michigan cases, the attorneys received emails from a person claiming to need help with a commercial lease. The emails came from someone claiming to be with Compass Upstream Services LLC, a company name that appears frequently in the ongoing list of scams compiled by the State Bar of Texas. Read more information.