by Janeen Lofton and Hugo Montero
The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $54 million to phishing schemes in 2020. 1 Phishing attacks usually originate from a malicious email that victims receive effectively convincing them to visit a fraudulent website where they are asked to enter sensitive information. 2 Some email messages appear to be from an existing company, perhaps one with which the victim already has a business relationship. 3 Some phishing emails send fake invoices for goods or services the victim recently purchased. 4 So, what exactly is phishing? Phishing messages frequently tell a story to trick victims into either clicking on a link or opening an attachment. 5 Most fake emails follow the same pattern and yet people still fall for the tactics these fraudsters use:
The number of cyber fraud victims is increasing at an alarming rate. 9 Therefore, if a client falls for an email scam there are several recommendations an attorney should advise that the victim take immediately. Some of the recommended next steps include: 10
Nonetheless, attorneys would be performing a disservice to their clients if they did not offer some tips to their clients in order for them not to fall victim to these scams again in the future. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is one of several agencies who have published information to help individuals protect themselves. 11
Some of the FTC’s tips are as follows: 12
Unfortunately, it does not seem that phishing is going to dissipate any time soon. 13 Therefore, every attorney should advise his or her clients to be on the look-out for suspicious emails in their inboxes. And remember, you nor your clients can never be too safe.
1 FBI, 2020 Internet Crime Report.
2 HANDBOOK OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SECURITY 433, Peter Stavroulakis et al eds., 2010).
3 What You Need to Know About Scams?, Identity Theft Resource Center (Oct. 30, 2020).
4 Ari Lazarus, Phishers send fake invoices, FTC (Feb 23, 2018).
5 How To Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams, Federal Trade Commission (Feb. 23, 2018).
6 What You Need to Know About Scams?, Identity Theft Resource Center (Oct 30, 2020).
9 James Coker, ONS Reports Huge Spike in Cybercrime and Fraud During COVID-19, Infosecurity Magazine (Nov.
10 Alison Grace Johansen, What to do if you fall for an email scam, Norton (July 23, 2018).
11 How To Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams, Federal Trade Commission (Feb. 23, 2018).
13 Adam Pilkey, Phishing is here to stay, F-Secure (Dec. 23, 2020).