There’s a Special Place in Hell for Scammers, PART I (NLR)
YOU'D THINK IT WAS THE WHOLE DARN CAR, BUT NO. The first time someone stole from me, it was something very minor. Back in the mid-90’s, I worked hard as a ramp agent at the airport and saved my wages for my first big splurge … a sweet new set of aftermarket wheels (what some call “rims”) to spice up my faded, red car.
I still remember the specs: TSW, aluminum, multispoke, 205 60/15’s, complete with locking lug nuts. They were awesome. And stupid expensive. You know, because 18-year-olds sometimes don’t make the best decisions. (In that vein, wanna know what it feels like to have laser tattoo removal on a couple of tattoos you may have gotten at age 18? Like continuous wasp stings.)
ANYwho, a few months later I stopped by a CVS one fine spring day. I don’t recall how long I was in the store, but when I came out, I noticed it immediately … someone had stolen my chromies.
It may seem silly, but I was mad. Steaming mad. After all, I had toiled on the airport ramp slinging heavy luggage and fueling planes in unrelenting weather for months to save up for those wheels. My dad gave me four black plastic caps to replace the stolen ones, but they just weren’t the same. More than anything, it was the principle of the matter. Someone took something I worked hard to earn. Probably just some preteen kids who put them on their bikes. But still.
Hooligans and fraudsters used to be relegated to in-person thievery of goods or misappropriation of personal information by phone to steal from others. But the technological revolution of the last few decades has opened up new avenues for enterprising swindlers. Enter the internet.
Nary a household in the United States is without a smart phone or computer these days. On the one hand, the internet allows for the speedy dissemination of ideas worldwide. Pretty amazing, actually. Interaction with others has never been easier. Social change has a renewed voice. Cat videos. In our technology-obsessed culture, the call for faster and better channels of communication is never ending.
On the other hand, the internet has been a boon for scoundrels as well. The anonymity that comes with conversing behind a computer screen makes hustling easier for scammers. Potential targets cannot physically identify the shyster on the other end. And, as more and more of our finances go electronic, our vulnerability increases.
Some internet scams are easy to spot …
Some internet scams are more difficult to spot …
YOU'D THINK PEOPLE WOULD BE TOO AFRAID TO SCAM A LAWYER, BUT NO. At a minimum, an angry attorney makes for a guaranteed civil lawsuit. Perhaps criminal charges as well. But the depraved, the desperate, and the unwise remain undeterred.
My legal malpractice insurance carrier, the Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company (OBLIC for short), sends out notifications regarding new scams in the legal world. In April 2017, OBLIC warned about an electronic scheme involving real estate closings. An email, purportedly from the seller or their agent, provides last-minute instructions on changing the account into which the purchase money is to be wired. Those who comply with the alleged party’s request unwittingly divert the funds to a fraudster’s account, where they are forever lost. OBLIC warned that this scam has caused great financial losses for title companies, banks, and law firms alike.
Have I ever fallen victim to one of these lawyer scams? Check out the next post to find out! In the meantime, please feel free to share your favorite internet scam in the comments below.