Fake law firm website uses real lawyers’ pictures to fleece consumers, bar lawsuit says

BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISSABA Journal

The Houston Bar Association has filed a lawsuit seeking to shut down a fake law firm website that is using the pictures of real lawyers in an apparent scam targeting elderly people.

The fake law firm is called Walsh & Padilla, and it purports to offer estate planning services, the Houston Chronicle reports.

In reality, the website appears to be operated from South Africa, and it uses photos of lawyers taken from real law firm websites, the suit says.

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Security Summit Warns of New Phishing Email Targeting Tax Pros

 

The IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry today warned tax professionals to beware of phishing emails purporting to be from a tax software education provider and seeking extensive amounts of sensitive preparer data.

The email’s origin is unknown but likely issued by cybercriminals who could be operating from the U.S. or abroad. The email is unusual for the amount of sensitive preparer data that it seeks. This preparer information will enable the thieves to steal client data and file fraudulent tax returns.

The IRS reminds all tax professionals that legitimate businesses and organizations never ask for usernames, passwords or sensitive data via email. Nor should a preparer ever provide such sensitive information via email if asked.

All tax professionals should be aware that their e-Services credentials, the Electronic Filing Information Number (EFIN), the Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and their Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number are extremely valuable to identity thieves.Anyone handling taxpayer information has a legal obligation to protect that data.

Because the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry, acting in partnership as the Security Summit, are making inroads on individual tax-related identity theft, cybercriminals increasingly target tax professionals. Thieves are looking for real client data so they can better impersonate the taxpayer when filing fraudulent returns for refunds.

The fake email uses the name of a real U.S.-based preparer education firm. Here’s the text as it appears in phishing emails being sent to tax professionals: In our database, there is a failure, we need your information about your account.

In addition, we need a photo of the driver’s license, send all the data to the letter. Please do it as soon as possible, this will help us to revive the account.

*Company Name *

*EServices Username *

*EServices Password *

*EServices Pin *

*CAF number*

*Answers to a secret question*

*EIN Number *

*Business Name 

*Owner/Principal Name *

*Owner/Principal DOB *

*Owner/Principal SSN * 

*Prior Years AGI 

Mother’s Maiden Name

If you received or fell victim to the scam email, forward a copy to phishing@irs.gov. If you disclosed any credential information, contact the e-Services Help Desk to reset your password. If you disclosed information and taxpayer data was stolen, contact your local stakeholder liaison.

Attacks on secret informants spur federal courts to consider limiting PACER access–ABA Journal

The federal judiciary is considering blocking public online access to criminal court records on PACER to prevent inmates from learning information about confidential informants.

The idea is one of several under consideration as the U.S. Judicial Conference considers the impact of disclosure, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports.
A recent survey (PDF) of federal judges, prosecutors, defenders and probation offices by the Federal Judicial Center found that nearly 700 witnesses and informants perceived as snitches had been threatened, wounded or killed over a three year period.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan of Manhattan told the U.S. Judicial Conference’s criminal rules committee in April that PACER is part of the problem, according to the Wall Street Journal account. Though federal inmates don’t have PACER access, they often get information from others.

“Anonymous remote public access to PACER is a source of much of the information that gets into prisons about who is cooperating,” Kaplan said.

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IRS Warns of New Phone Scam Involving Bogus Certified Letters; Reminds People to Remain Vigilant Against Scams, Schemes this Summer

New Phone Scam Involves Bogus Certified Letters

Beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), in which fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country.

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The Internal Revenue Service today warned people to beware of a new scam linked to the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), where fraudsters call to demand an immediate tax payment through a prepaid debit card. This scam is being reported across the country, so taxpayers should be alert to the details.

In the latest twist, the scammer claims to be from the IRS and tells the victim about two certified letters purportedly sent to the taxpayer in the mail but returned as undeliverable. The scam artist then threatens arrest if a payment is not made through a prepaid debit card. The scammer also tells the victim that the card is linked to the EFTPS system when, in fact, it is entirely controlled by the scammer. The victim is also warned not to contact their tax preparer, an attorney or their local IRS office until after the tax payment is made.

“This is a new twist to an old scam,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “Just because tax season is over, scams and schemes do not take the summer off. People should stay vigilant against IRS impersonation scams. People should remember that the first contact they receive from IRS will not be through a random, threatening phone call.”

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NYSBA | Service Animals Guide

People with disabilities may rely on dogs and other service animals to assist them at their homes and workplaces, schools, retail stores, restaurants, theaters and when traveling. However, there has been confusion both for those who use service animals and those who must accommodate them. The New York City Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association have released this guide jointly to help clarify the legal rights and obligations involving the use of service animals in the state. The associations encourage the downloading, copying and distribution of the Guide throughout the state.

Cyber Attacks-Is It Really Not If You Will Be Attacked, But When?

By Jim Calloway–Oklahoma Bar Association

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Recently, there were news reports of a Providence, Rhode Island, law firm that was held hostage by ransomware blackmailers for 90 days. Just imagine 90 days without access to any file on the law firm’s network or any of the individual workstations. The blackmailers were demanding $25,000 in ransom paid in bitcoin to restore access. The news reports were about the law firm’s litigation against its insurer for not paying a claim for $700,000 in lost billing as the firm’s 10 lawyers were left unproductive and inefficient. I have no doubt the firm also sustained a significant amount of damage to relationships with many of its clients.

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Link To Malware Found Hidden In Instagram Comments | Ubergizmo

By Tyler Lee

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According to a report from Slovak IT security company ESET Security, it seems that hackers have managed to hide Russian malware within Instagram comments. The malware itself isn’t in the comments since it’s just text, but what it does is that it provides a link that instructs the malware on how to get in touch with its controllers.

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