Scams

July 8, 2010

So I’m sitting at my desk pondering deep, legal thoughts: “What is more boring to read – a patent or a real property lease?” “Why does our CFO like to wear pink?” “I wonder if we left food on the counter, and if The Dog ate it?” And then I think, “Can a lawyer be scammed?” As in scammed by the Nigerian email scam? (Rest easy - this is a hypothetical as far as your lawyer is concerned. The answer is a resounding “No!” At least, not yet, to date…..) After all, the lawyer is the one to sue people when you fall for the scams. And the lawyer is generally cynical and wary and suspecting.

But, alas – in general, the lawyer can be scammed. One Texas lawyer was approached by a Japanese client to do collections work. He agreed and was in the process of initiating the process when the client indicated that one of the companies that owed it money had paid. So the client sent the check to the law firm to deposit and indicated that the firm should deduct their fee and wire the rest of the money back, and then proceed with the remainder of the collections. The Texas lawyer had his staff check to see if the check cleared, and it was allegedly confirmed by the bank that it had cleared. So the fee was deducted and the rest of the money ($182,500.00) was wired back to the Japanese client. Shortly after the wire transfer took place, it was determined that the check was fraudulent, and they tried to stop the transfer, but it was too late. After realizing he had been scammed, the lawyer declared, “I’m a capital ‘D’ Dumbass.” http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202427717175. Other attorneys have fallen for this, or slight variations, as well. http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202448356229.

Another attempt at scamming that we in-house attorney types see quite often involves a company’s trademarks or domain names. The email typically reads as follows:

Dear Manager

We are a professional intellectual property rights consultant organiz-ation, mainly deal with the global domain name registration and in-ternet intellectual property rights protection. On March. 22th, 2010, we formally received an application from KangShen Technology Lim-ited, they applied to register the internet brand (softlayer) and some in China and Asia's domain name.

During our preliminary investigation, we found that these domain names' keyword is fully identical with your trademark. Therefore, we need to confirm with you, whether you consigned KangShen Techno-logy Limited to register these domain names with us or not? Or, is KangShen Technology Limited your business partner or distributor?

If you have no relationship with this company, we assume that they have other purposes to obtain these domain names.

Currently, we have already suspended this company's application temporarily due to the seriousness of this isuue. In order to avoid the vicious domain name grabbing, please let the relevant person make a confirmation with me via email as soon as possible. Thank you for your support to our work!

Best Regards!

Well, that doesn’t seem like a scam. Those nice people are letting us know that some other company is wrongfully trying to register our domain name in China and Asia. How can that be a scam? Here’s what happens:

Dear Nice Chinese Registrar Company:

Thank you for alerting us to this evil deed. No – KangShen Technology Limited is not our business partner or distributor. They are trying to usurp our valuable trademark and domain names in China and Asia. Please do not allow this registration to go forward. Thanks again for being so alert!

Dear SoftLayer:

You are so welcome! We are so glad we prevented them from illicitly using your domain name. In order to protect your rights to these domain names that they tried to register, we will register all of them for you in China and Asia for $3,800.00 USD. Please let us know when to proceed.

So then you wire your money to the Nice Chinese Registrar Company, and you never hear from them again, and your money is long gone. So what seems to be a Registrar trying to help you out, turns out to be a scam.

Lessons: Lawyers can be scammed. Trust no one on the Internets. Do not share any personal information or credit card information with anyone (or any entity) that asks for it in an email. No one is just going to give you money. If you just want to give your money away, play the lottery or give it to me. CFO’s who like pink appear to be inherently evil.

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