As an attorney, you get bombarded with Emails all day every day. Some are legitimate and some are obvious spam, but there’s a third category that’s been a pervasive problem for a long time. I call it “Lead Spam” and it can cost you time, and potentially a lot of money.
What is Lead Spam?
Lead scam is an email that looks like it might be a legitimate lead from a potential client, but in actuality it’s a scammer trying to get your attention. Lead spammers target higher payouts, therefore they target people who deal with larger sums of money like attorneys and financial professionals. Because of their target, they can be very believable at first. These trolls look for attorneys to contact and try to scam money from using a mix of legitimate tactics and bullshit.
Lead Spam Methods & Alerts
Lead spammers can be very sneaky, and the larger the potential payout the more underhanded and sophisticated they are. Here’s a few warning signals that you might be the target of a lead scam:
- You’ve received an email lead and it is either very sparse with information, or has a huge amount of information. Most people naturally write a few sentences about their matter and want to discuss the details in person or over the phone at a later time.
- The lead is from a domain based email that is not an actual website, or it’s a dummy website. Let’s say you get an email from email@example.com and you try to go to johnsawesomecompany.com. It may either redirect to a new URL or it goes to a simple landing page with only a few pages. A decent website and Email address are easy to set up and label with whatever name you want, you should maintain healthy skepticism.
- The lead spammer either won’t or can’t talk in person or over the phone. For any number of creative reasons, you’ll find that they almost never can actually talk to you or they’re in a different part of the world making it impossible to meet. If they were facing a legal issue, don’t you think they’d find a way to talk to their lawyer personally?
- They want to send you a retainer immediately. Here’s where it gets interesting… how could a scammer want to send me money? Usually, after they’ve sent the money to retain you, the next day they’ll send you an Email saying they’ve changed their mind and you need to send the money back immediately. They’re often taking advantage of banking loopholes that might allow them to clawback the funds within a certain time period – leaving you holding the bag if you’ve sent them refund and they simultaneously processed a payment cancellation with their bank – which may be overseas.
Known Lead Scammers (Updated January, 2019)
Starting today, (Jan 8, 2019), we will maintain and update the following list of known scammer names so you can spend your time more wisely. Hopefully, as this post grows in popularity and attorneys share it on social media it will become the #1 result when you search these names. It’s important to note that these people are probably not scammers in real life, but the real dirtbag spammers are smart enough to know that you’ll be researching a name on Google if you get a lead. Often, they are trying to impersonate or spoof a legitimate, yet obscure person to further validate themselves to you. If any of these are really you, we are sorry for the confusion on behalf of the Internet!
Michael Ozegowski – Intellectual Property & Patent Lead Spammer
This lead came from firstname.lastname@example.org, but the email was labeled with Michael’s name. Eircom.net is a redirect and it’s a mismatched name/email address. This spoof name has hit many attorneys I work with and is almost always the same format, unfortunately Michael Ozegowski appears to be a legitimate person – just not someone looking for an IP lawyer.
Submit a Name
It’s important that we try to be right in making a list like this, so it has to be blatantly obvious (like above) that this is a lead scammer. Also, we would not want you to share any Emails from a potential client unless you were 100% sure it was a scammer. So if you’d like to anonymously submit a name and photo you can Email us at doug[at]everestlegalmarketing.com.