Email scam alert - Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner

Email scam alert

September 29, 2017

The Board and Commissioner has recently learned that Victorian lawyers’ email accounts may currently be the target of hackers.

We have been informed that the email accounts belonging to least two solicitors from different law practices have been compromised, possibly through a malware infected email which appeared to come from a legitimate source.

An unknown third party has then been able to send authentic looking correspondence using the logo of at least one law practice. At least one of these pieces of correspondence purported to tell the recipient that they were the beneficiary of an estate, and involved confirming bank account details in order to pay out money.

A similar scam targeted UK lawyers in early 2016, prompting the Board and Commissioner to issue a Consumer Alert to the media and an RPA News bulletin to the profession.

Despite the prolific nature of scams, such correspondence purporting to come from solicitor could be seen by the recipient to be authentic, and may result in innocent people losing money. Whether or not money is lost, there would likely be damage done to a solicitor’s reputation by having their email hacked.

Lawyers are reminded of the need to ensure their email and computer systems are secure and that their computer networks are protected from malware with up to date virus protection software installed.

If you suspect your email address has been compromised, consider changing your password and scanning your computer to check for malware such as viruses, trojans and worms. The ACCC website provides information to assist both consumers and businesses to protect themselves from online scams. You can also contact Scamwatch to report scams.

Consumers who believe they may have received a scam email should follow the advice of the ACCC in protecting themselves from scams.

Consumers or lawyers who have specific concerns about a scam are welcome to discuss their concerns with Board and Commissioner staff. Please email us at admin@lsbc.vic.gov.au or telephone us during normal business hours on Tel: 03 9679 8001.

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