Lawyers in at least 4 states (California, Nevada, Georgia and Florida) have received emails notifying them of a complaint filed against them that appears to come from the state agency that regulates lawyers.
The email looks like this and contains a link to the complaint. If the recipient clicks on the link, their computer is taken over by ransomware. As its name suggests, ransomware is a type of malware that lets attackers hold a victim’s device and/or files for ransom, by encrypting the files and refusing to decrypt them unless the victim pays money (usually via Bitcoin or wire transfer, both of which are untraceable).
This isn’t the first time scammers have pretended to be someone they’re not: maybe the IRS, another government official, a family member or a friend, or a tech company. These imposters come in many varieties, but work the same way: the person pretending to be someone you trust tries to convince you to send money.
If you receive an email similar to this with a generic subject line that does not reference a specific matter, it is almost certainly a part of this scam. Please do not respond or click on any attachments, as these emails likely contain ransomware. If you have doubts about any email you receive that references the Oregon State Bar, please call the Bar at (503) 620-0222, ext. 0, and ask to speak with the bar lawyer identified in the email you received.
“The Oregon State Bar does not send disciplinary emails with generic subject lines. An email from our office will always contain a case number and the names of the complainant and the respondent attorney,” reported Linn Davis, OSB Assistant General Counsel and Client Assistance Office Manager.
“It’s only natural to want to click on a link in an email of this nature, but don’t do it! Don’t click on a link unless you are one-hundred percent sure you know it’s legitimate,” said Attorney General Rosenblum.
You can tell if a link is safe without clicking on it. If you hover over a link in an email without clicking it, you’ll notice the full URL of the link’s destination will appear. You can also use a link scanner. Link scanners are websites that allow you to enter the URL of a suspicious link and check it for safety.