24/7 call for a free consultation 212-300-5196




When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

Client Testimonials



The BEST LAWYER ANYONE COULD ASK FOR!!! Todd changed our lives! He’s not JUST a lawyer representing us for a case. Todd and his office have become Family. When we entered his office in August of 2022, we entered with such anxiety, uncertainty, and so much stress. Honestly we were very lost. My husband and I felt alone. How could a lawyer who didn’t know us, know our family, know our background represents us, When this could change our lives for the next 5-7years that my husband was facing in Federal jail. By the time our free consultation was over with Todd, we left his office at ease. All our questions were answered and we had a sense of relief.

schedule a consultation


Sunrise Organized Schemes to Defraud Lawyers

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Sunrise Organized Schemes to Defraud Lawyers

Lawyers work hard to build their careers and reputations. But some shady characters see lawyers as easy targets to scam and defraud. A disturbing new trend called “sunrise” schemes specifically targets lawyers to rip them off.

What are Sunrise Schemes?

Sunrise schemes are carefully planned cons designed to take advantage of lawyers’ trust and eagerness to help new clients. The scammers send lawyers official-looking documents about a fake legal case. The documents look legit – complete with case numbers, client names, and legal jargon. But it’s all made up.

The scammers tell the lawyers they’ve been appointed to represent a client in an urgent case. They say the client needs help ASAP. This tricks the lawyers into taking quick action before realizing it’s a scam.

These schemes often target newer lawyers or small firms. The scammers know newbie lawyers want to build their client list fast. And small firms survive on new business. By dangling a promising new case in front of them, the scammers get the lawyers to let their guard down.

How Do Sunrise Schemes Work?

Sunrise schemes tend to follow the same pattern:

  1. The Hook: The scammers send a letter or email to the lawyer announcing they’ve been appointed as legal counsel for a fake case. The letter looks official, with legal lingo and fake court documents. This convinces the lawyer it’s a real case.
  2. The Line: The scammers tell the lawyer this is an urgent case that needs immediate attention. They say the lawyer must act fast to help their new “client.” This pressures the lawyer to leap into action.
  3. The Sinker: The scammers instruct the lawyer to complete some task for the fake case, like paying a fee or deposit. They provide wire transfer details for where to send the money. Once the lawyer wires funds, the scammers disappear with the cash.

The whole thing happens quickly, sometimes in just a few days. The scammers know lawyers are busy and won’t fact-check the details up front. By making it seem time-sensitive, they get the lawyers to hand over money before realizing it’s a con.

Real-Life Examples

These schemes keep popping up across the country:

  • In California, scammers sent fake court documents to a lawyer saying he’d been appointed to a big class action case. They told him to quickly pay a $135,000 filing fee to the court. He wired the money before realizing it was all fake.
  • A Florida attorney got paperwork saying he’d been picked to represent a woman in an accident case. The scammers said he had to pay $35,000 right away for expert witnesses and filings. The lawyer sent the money before finding out he’d been duped.
  • Ohio lawyers have reported getting emails saying they’ve been assigned to help prisoners with appeals. The messages look like they’re from the court clerk. Scammers tell the lawyers to send $5,000 retainers to secure the case. But the prisoners and cases don’t exist.

Why Are Lawyers Targeted?

These scams work because they take advantage of how lawyers operate:

  • Eagerness for new clients: Newer lawyers want to build their book of business. Even experienced lawyers look forward to landing new clients. This makes them less cautious about vetting new case inquiries.
  • Desire to help: Lawyers go into the profession to help people. When they think someone needs legal assistance, their instinct is to jump into action. Scammers exploit this urge to help.
  • Busy schedules: Lawyers have jam-packed schedules handling cases for existing clients. They don’t take time to thoroughly fact check new inquiries before agreeing to take them on. This allows scams to slip through the cracks.
  • Trust in the legal system: Lawyers are used to court documents being legitimate. So when scammers send fake filings and motions, lawyers don’t suspect they could be forged. This makes them less likely to scrutinize new case materials.

How Lawyers Can Protect Themselves

The good news is there are steps lawyers can take to avoid being reeled in by sunrise schemes:

  • Verify new case details: Call the court clerk to confirm any new case filings before acting. Check state bar records to validate lawyer appointments.
  • Research new clients thoroughly: Google search any new clients to make sure they’re real people with legitimate backgrounds. Don’t assume client details in engagement letters are accurate.
  • Watch for urgency and pressure: Scammers try to make lawyers act fast before they can spot inconsistencies. Be wary of any new case demanding immediate attention without time to verify details.
  • Confirm payment instructions: Call courts and clients directly to validate any wiring instructions before sending funds. Get payment details from known, trusted sources – not just from engagement letters.
  • Trust your instincts: If a new case seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t ignore red flags just because a lawyer is eager for new business.

Protecting the Profession

Sunrise schemes damage the legal profession’s reputation and bottom line. But lawyers can fight back:

  • Report scams to bar associations: Spreading awareness helps prevent these cons from snaring more victims. File complaints so scammers can be investigated.
  • Warn fellow lawyers: Share real-life examples on lawyer forums and social media. The more people know these scams exist, the less likely they’ll fall for them.
  • Advocate for transparency: Encourage courts to post warnings about common attorney scams on their websites to reach lawyers statewide.
  • Press for stronger verification: Bar associations should push for more rigorous verification steps before lawyers can be appointed to new cases. This would cut down on fake appointments.

By staying vigilant and looking out for each other, lawyers can shut down these shady schemes. Don’t let the scammers win!




Lawyers You Can Trust

Todd Spodek

Founding Partner

view profile



view profile


Associate Attorney

view profile



view profile



view profile



view profile



view profile

Criminal Defense Lawyers Trusted By the Media

schedule a consultation
Schedule Your Consultation Now