Spam emails targeting lawyers have affected firms even before the early days of SEO for law firms. We work with a large number of law firms across the country. One interesting benefit to having such wide reach is that we see A TON of the same emails that target law firms. So we took the most common spam emails targeting law firms and put them together in this blog post for you. We covered many variations of these same scams in older versions of this post (here), so we are focusing on bringing specific, new examples in this post.
There are two broad categories of spam emails that we typically see our clients receiving. The first category is from low-quality marketing agencies or consultants who try to solicit business from law firms by scraping contact email addresses and then blasting automated emails out. This is an extremely unethical and even shady practice, and working with agencies that engage in this should be avoided. If an agency does this, they either desperately need business or at the very least do not spend their time seeking out new clients effectively.
The second type of spam email is from people who disguise as potential clients in need of legal services for a collection or transactional representation. Often the goal here is a variation on the retainer check fraud scam. The attorney is sent a fake check as a retainer and then asked to quickly send back the difference between the amount sent and the fees/time collected by the attorney via a foreign wire transfer. By the time the bank catches that the check is fake, the scammers have disappeared with the difference. These can sometimes be more difficult to spot, though there are often numerous red flags with these emails. Examples being frequent misspellings or grammar mistakes and an unusual request for personal details of the firm. These entries are also often submitted from email addresses with non-US domain extensions such as.jp or.ru, which is often the quickest way to spot a junk request.
One benefit of having so many clients in the legal space is that we get to see trends and test methods across a number of practice areas and geographies. If something works, we adapt it client-base-wide. An unintended side-effect is that we see the same fraudulent emails (typically within minutes of each other) come across to multiple clients all at once. Recently, this scam seem most-often to target older (sorry) partners at commercial litigation firms.
The Real Risks of Scam Emails
The dangers here are many – even if you do not ultimately fall for the scam. First, even replying or engaging with these spammers can often put your email on a list of vulnerable and real email addresses. These lists are often sold or shared with other spammers. This will cause you to get a large amount of additional spam email as opposed to if you had not responded. See the example below where “details will be sent upon your reply”.
Relatedly, if these spammers are expressly using their client’s brand names as examples in these automated, spam marketing techniques – you have to ask whether they are 1.) good enough at the service they provide if their own inbound/social/SEO/content/paid search marketing techniques aren’t resulting in real leads for their own purposes; 2.) if they are willing to resort to spamming email addresses, what other automated techniques are they using or corners they are cutting as part of their clients’ campaigns; and 3.) if they are being this loose with throwing around their client’s brand names, what else are they doing with those brand names?
Finally, one of the other dangers that is often not realized is the physical act of marking these emails as ‘spam’. Often, these messages are submitted from your website’s contact form. That contact form has an email address that it uses to send these emails on to you – often something like noreply@YOURDOMAIN.com. Some email clients will flag your website’s email address instead of the original sender or the email address the spammer listed. If you flag enough of these emails as spam, every email (spam and legitimate) sent from your website’s contact form could hit your spam. To avoid this, put in place CAPTCHA, RECAPTCHA, or a spam honeypot on your website’s contact form. When spam does get through, it is best to delete spam emails generating from your website’s contact form rather than marketing them as spam.
How to Tell if the Email Your Law Firm Received is a Scam
First, see if the email is from Massimo Marchetti or some variation of the name Nicholas Ferris. If so, it’s probably a scam since we have seen dozens of the exact same email get spammed to multiple clients.
Second, see if any of the copy in the email matches this article or other articles on the internet. If someone has experienced this exact email or verbatim lines from your email, it is most likely a scam.
Third, keep your antennae up for red flags. If you receive a single (or multiple) emails asking for the drafting of a purchase agreement, then clearly this should be a red flag. Furthermore, when a potential client submits an inquiry to you or your firm, they will typically elaborate into the work that needs to be done. It is rare for someone to be very secretive with the details of a project right off the bat. With the “kindly respond for more details,” you can see that they are attempting to bring you to them with initial information, not vice-versa, which is atypical on first contact with a potential client.
Fourth, go to their website. All of the websites in our examples are non-existent. If there is a website, check the registration whois record and see if it matches the information in the email. It is also not uncommon for scammers to use a real overseas company’s names and email domains, however. If the website exists, look up that company’s attorney on record for a recent transaction. Contact that attorney instead of who emailed you.
Last, take a look at the phone numbers. Many emails claim to from the same organization (in the above examples called “stakcontractors”) yet they have different area codes. This should be an immediate red flag. And, as mentioned above, the way in which the message is asking you to respond should clue you in to this being a scam inquiry.
Once again, scam emails can be dangerous to the operation of your law firm. Attorneys rely on protecting confidential and private information in order to run their practice. Some general things to look out for in order to protect yourself:
- Scam emails typically ask for retainers and/or purchase or sale agreements.
- Scam emails will typically have broken up English.
- Scam emails will typically have typographical errors.
- Scam emails will typically be worded in a way that does not reflect accurate diction.
- Scam emails will may be from non-existent websites.
What if the Email is Not Obviously a Scam?
Since the differences between spam and legitimate client emails can sometimes be difficult to spot, here are some real examples of spam emails our clients received over the past year.
Purchase Agreement Emails
This is a common subject for spam emails since the details can be left extremely vague.
Name: william moore (name kept in because it is confirmed fraudulent)
Message: We need a Purchase agreement and bill of sale drafted. Kindly respond for more details
Interpretation: This is a fairly classic purchase/sale agreement scam. This is asking the attorney to contact the “contract company” with a purchase agreement and bill of sale. This may look innocent enough, but contacting “william moore” (notice the lack of cap letters in the name, which is a sign of foreign influence on the scam email) with any sort of personal or private information could lead to an infiltration of your personal accounts, websites, or information. If they take this further, they will mail/wire a check or funds and then ask for a return of unused retainer before their payment clears.
Name: Maurice McNamara (name kept in because it is confirmed fraudulent)
Message: We need a Purchase agreement and bill of sale drafted. Kindly respond for more details.
Interpretation: In this example, we have a person claiming to be “Maurice McNamara.” Notice how the “stakcontractors” email is the same as in example 1. At least this time, the person submitting the scam email was able to capitalize their own name.
Message: Dear Attorney,
I will like to inquire if your firm handles Purchase transactions and agreements. A referral will be welcomed if this is not your area of practice and also provide me with your contact number and time of availability.
|Message:||I write to request the help of an attorney on a breach of sale contract. Contact me so that I can schedule an appointment to speak with the attorney about possible engagement if your firm can help. |
|Name:||Massimo Marchetti (name kept in, confirmed scam)|
|Message:||Please, I would need your skilled legal counsel to help me handle a full spectrum of purchase and sale agreements transaction, a complete package fromcontract preparation through closing.If this is not your legal field a referral would be fine. |
Breach of Sale Contract
|Your Name||Nicholas Ferris (name kept in, confirmed scam)|
|Your E-mail Addressemail@example.com|
|Phone Number||(587) xxx-xxxx|
|Your Message||I write to request the help of an attorney on a breach of sale contract.Contact me so that I can schedule an appointment to speak with the attorney |
about possible engagement if your firm can help.
Purchase and Sale Agreement
|Message:||I need a purchase and sale agreement drafted. Respond for more details. xxxx@ |
Bill of Sale Agreement
Message: Please respond if you have experience in drafting Bill of sales and purchase agreements.
Contract Preparation Through Closing
|Name:||Massimo Marchetti (name kept, confirmed scam)|
|Message:||Please, I would need your skilled |
legal counsel to help me handle a
full spectrum of purchase and sale
agreements transaction, a complete
package from contract preparation
through closing.If this is not your
legal field a referral would be
fine. Yours Sincerely,
Interpretation: Someone went halfway down the path with these folks involving the purchase of a crane, read more here. How many deals does Massimo have going at one time? The global business climate waits for no man, Mr. Marchetti.
Purchase & Sale Transactions
Does your firm handle purchase & sale transactions and
|Message||I request the help of an attorney to draft a sale agreement. Respond if you are able to help and schedule a time to discuss details. |
Thank you in anticipation of your prompt response.
Breach of Sale
|Name:||nicholas ferris (name kept in, confirmed scam)|
|Message:||I write to request the help of an attorney on a breach of sale contract. |
Contact me so that I can schedule an appointment to speak with the attorney about possible engagement if your firm can help.
Take on Sure Case
|Name||Nicholas Ferris (Name kept in confirmed scam)|
|Message||Legal representation based on breach of sale contract. I wait to hear from you if your firm take on sure case.|
A Referral Will be Welcome
|Message:||Dear Counsel, |
I want to inquire if your firm handles purchase transactions and agreements rather help us to draft a purchase agreement or A referral will be welcome if this is not your area of practice. Kindly advise regarding this issue as soon as possible.Email: xxxx
Full Spectrum of Purchase and Sale Agreements
|Name||Massimo Marchetti (name kept in, confirmed scam)|
|Message||Please, I would need your skilled legal counsel to help me handle a full spectrum of purchase and sale agreements transaction, a complete package from contract preparation through closing.If this is not your legal field a referral would be fine. |
Anticipation of Prompt Response
|Message:||I write to request the help of an attorney to draft a Sale and Purchase Agreement. Schedule a time to discuss details if you can help. |
Thank you in anticipation of your prompt response.
“I shall give you the details as soon as you reply to my request”
Again, this is an obvious red flag. Clients should not wait for you to respond to divulge information about their “case”.
Contract of Sale Emails
Collection Matter Emails
Spam Attorney Referral Services
|Hi XXXX, |
I’m reaching out specifically because you handle personal injury cases. By chance, do you have availability to take on Auto Accidents generated from local TV stations in Philadelphia? We are offering pre-screened auto accident leads that meet the following criteria:
* Injured in a car/truck/motorcycle accident
All calls will be live transferred to your firm. Is this something that interests you?
Spam Emails from Marketing Agencies and SEO Consultants
Apps Legal is proud to announce the launch our new custom branded mobile for PI Law Firms.
Our PI App is now integrated with the unique ‘Automatic Car Crash Detection System’ (ACCD). Our App automatically detects a car crash using the internal sensors of the user’s smartphone. Once a crash is detected, our App sends a text and email message with the user’s location to their pre selected emergency contacts. This allowing the contacts to send help as soon as possible. A copy of the text message and email is also sent to the law firm. This potential life saving feature is a must for all users.
Other Key App Features
With over 500 PI firm clients, we are the market leader in developing custom branded Apps for PI firms in the US.
For more information on our App, please visit lawyermobapps.com.
Contact me to schedule a free demo.
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|Re: Website Issues…? |
My name is Tracy Jackson and I am a Digital Marketing Specialists for a Creative Agency.
I was doing some industry benchmarking for a client of mine when I came across your website.
I noticed a few technical errors which correspond with a drop of website traffic over the last 6-8 months which I thought I would bring to your attention.
After closer inspection it appears your site is lacking in 4 key criteria.
1- Website Speed
I can send you over the report which shows all of the above and so much more which will help you at least improve your site, its rankings and traffic.
I would love the chance to help as well however; this report will at least give you a gauge on the quality of what I do. If you are interested then please share your requirement and contact details.
Is this the best email to send it to?
josua w firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d like to run an ad campaign to send you people in and around your area who are looking to hire a lawyer to file a lawsuit for a car accident injury. Hi,
ZERO-DOWN SEO SERVICES
Not only is this a red flag due since the SEO sales pitch is coming in through an unprompted email, but a ‘zero down payment’ until page 1 rankings are achieved is a shady business practice for an SEO agency as they typically target very low competition keywords that often cannibalize actual phrases and queries that would be more likely to lead to new business.
Stay safe out there everyone.