Internet Rip Offs – They can happen to anybody

Almost every day I get an email from an individual – usually claiming they now live in Japan (or some other far off place) – and further claiming that they were divorced in “your jurisdiction” and that their spouse owes them a very large sum of money for equitable distribution and has refused to pay. They sometimes give more “facts” to bolster their claims, and end with a request that I represent them to collect the monies due. Of course, recognizing the old “Nigerian scam” I hardly ever reply, unless it is to start the scam the scammer game, which quite frankly although I have seen it carried out to hilarious lengths, does not excite me enough to engage. I just usually tell them that I don’t “do” scams and advise them that I’ve forwarded their email to the local FBI office.
The scam, for those of you who may not know, is that the attorney is hired – the debtor pops up and pays in full via a check (drawn on either a non-existent bank, or a non-existent bank account). The attorney deposits the check – pays his fees out of the check, and sends the remaining monies to the “client.” Several weeks later the phony check bounces, and the attorney’s bank removes the monies from the attorney’s account. The “client” of course by this time has vanished into cyberspace, leaving the attorney on the hook for the entire amount.
I’ve recently learned that the same scam is being attempted on electricians and other tradesman as well as other professionals.
Today I learned of a new twist, where a lawyer was scammed out of nearly $300,000. He had clicked on an email from what he thought was the US Postal Service. The website downloaded a virus that tracked every keystroke he made on his computer. Next time he tried to access his bank account – the scammer intercepted the transmission, and instead of the usual sign in page, a webpage came up which asked him to type in his pin number plus another number that the page gave him. He complied not realizing that the other number was a wire transfer code. This code plus the pin initiated a transfer of ALL the money in his account to a Chinese bank account. He did not discover the scam until a couple of days later when he tried to access his account and discovered that there were no funds available! His bank declined to cover the loss since the attorney had initiated the transfer his bank
Dumb mistake or victim of high level fraud? I guess we all have our opinion but this example is different because it did not, as is the usual case capitalize on someone’s greed.
My remedy of course is to not use PIN numbers, and to be very careful about what I click on – I also suggest not keeping over the FDIC limit in any one account.
Keep safe and vigilant – and remember it CAN happen to you – not only the other guy.

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