A new type of scam claimed dozens of victims in São Paulo and Espírito Santo: criminals pretending to be lawyers and asking for payment to speed up the release of money that victims are entitled to receive. The scam becomes convincing because criminals use public information about lawsuits that are not secret of justice to impersonate the lawyers who are defending the victims.
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An HR coordinator received a message as if it were from the law firm representing her in a lawsuit against a health plan. In the conversation, the scammer had all the data about the lawsuit. But to receive compensation of R$ 249,000, she would need to make a transfer of almost R$ 5,000, which she did. According to the victim, at no time did it look like a scam, because the criminals had all the correct data. The lawyer handling her case said that at least 30 clients in her office received messages from the scammers.
More than 50 Complaints
The Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) said it has received more than 50 complaints from offices across the state of São Paulo. Scammers are extremely convincing. Therefore, OAB advises lawyers to explain to clients that this scam exists. The OAB’s second guideline for dealing with this type of case is: if you receive a message saying that you have a lawsuit in court and you need to pay to receive this money, be suspicious and try to talk directly to your lawyer over the phone.
This type of scam is more common in labor law and public entity payment request. This is because lawsuits are usually public, which allows criminals to have access to all its information, making it easier to convince victims. If you receive this type of call or message, it is important to contact your lawyer to clarify whether the lawsuits have progressed. Also, never transfer money based on messaging apps only. It is also important to register a police report so that more information can be collected, the more details, the bigger the chances the authorities will have to prevent new victims from being made.
It is also valuable to highlight that scams, such as this one – in which at least part of the scam is completed online –, have become a growing trend in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, when many individuals migrated a series of aspects of their lives to the online environment. Thus, criminals followed them, and created new ways to cheat people for their money. Since the virtual world offers great profits, many different forms to scam people and less chances of being caught, chances are that this trend will remain strong. Statistics have already confirmed this new strong presence of scams among the other types of crimes. For instance, in Rio de Janeiro state, between January and July of 2022, according to data from the ISP, there were 72,457 scams reported, meanwhile, in the same period, there were 61,474 occurrences of robbery.