New Jersey residents may find it amusing to a degree that a Manhattan couple is suing their former attorney for malpractice after cyber criminals hacked into her AOL email account and used it to scam them out of almost $2 million. The lawsuit was filed on April 18.
According to court documents, the plaintiffs had been communicating with the defendant via email regarding their purchase of a $19,380,000 condominium when Chinese hackers gained access to the defendant's AOL email account. The criminals then used the information found in their correspondence to impersonate the condo sellers' attorneys and convince the plaintiffs to wire $1.9 million to a fraudulent bank account. The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff's former lawyer chose to use AOL for sensitive legal communications even though the company's email accounts are "notoriously" easy to hack.
The plaintiffs claim the defendant should have done more to protect the security of her account. They also claim that she should have noticed her account had been hacked due to several "red flags" in the fraudulent emails, including the misspelling of the names of the sellers' attorneys. Instead, she forwarded the fake emails to the plaintiffs, which led them to wire the money to the hackers. The plaintiffs learned about the fraud the day after they wired the funds and were able to recover all but $196,200 of the money. The lawsuit seeks compensation for the lost amount, punitive damages and legal fees.
There are many forms of legal malpractice, including a failure to disclose a conflict of interest and missing a filing deadline. People who have been harmed by acts like these may want to speak to another attorney in order to learn about their rights.
Source: Fortune, "Clients Sue Lawyer With AOL Email Burned by Cyber Scammers," Jeff John Roberts, April 19, 2016