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Lawyers around the world need to be on the lookout for scammers pretending to be them on the internet.
In the past, fake lawyer scams usually involved some form of in-person contact between the fake lawyer/scammer and the victim. Nowadays though, with how commonly lawyers are hired online without ever even having a face-to-face with the client, it only makes sense that fake virtual lawyers are now trying to get in on the action.
Unfortunately, there might not be much you can do to stop a scammer from using your name, address, or even copying your website content, in order to make a credible looking online profile to scam legal consumers. At this point, the best you can do is know the basics of how the scam works, monitor your online presence, and be ready to contact the authorities if you find that a fake lawyer website has been setup using your identity.
Why Clone Lawyer Websites?
One of the more common fake lawyer scams involves preying on the elderly. The fake website will advertise estate planning services using an actual lawyers name, firm, and/or other verifiable information. So when consumers look up the firm or lawyer on official state bar websites, the fake websites appear real. Impersonating real lawyers and law firms just lends credibility to the scammers.Then, once the retainer is extracted, the fake lawyer either disappears, or worse, sends the client the requested documents. In addition to elder law clients being a prime target, so are immigration law clients.
Stealing Firm Identities Online
While email phishing scams can often be easily detected due to poor grammar and/or misspellings, not to mention clearly bogus sender email addresses, fake websites can be much more difficult to detect. That's because a website's code can easily be stolen and reposted as another website that will look identical.
And if you're wondering how someone can just steal your site's code, it's really simple: Web browsers, like Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc... all read code to display a website, and all have options to show users the code the browsers are reading.
What Can You Do?
Monitoring is the name of the game here. While it may seem a bit on the narcissistic side, one easy thing you can do is set up a Google Alert for your, and your firm's, name. It is an easy way to not just detect when scammers use your identity, but a Google Alert can help you monitor your online reputation.