Scams Targeting Attorneys Reported in Michigan
March 11, 2020
Attorneys, take note: 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 member who reported this scam told the State Bar of Michigan the initial inquiry came from an email with a uqtr.ca domain, which corresponds with the University of Quebec Trois-Rivières branch. This week, the member 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.
Michigan State Police recommend that attorneys who have been targeted in a scam contact the Michigan Cyber Command Center at MC3@michigan.gov.