Alerts and Updates

Invalid Subpoenas Sent Via E-Mail: New and Dangerous Internet Scam

April 23, 2008

Thousands of company executives received e-mails mid-April that purported to be federal court subpoenas but instead appear to be part of a "phishing" scam to capture sensitive data. The invalid subpoenas: (a) bear the seal of the U.S. district court and docket numbers from real cases; (b) command an appearance before a grand jury; (c) identify the originating e-mail address as subpoena@uscourts.com; and (d) contain a link with an instruction to "download the entire document on this matter ... and print it for your record."

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts posted an alert on its web site that can be found at www.uscourts.gov. The alert is captioned "Notice: Invalid Subpoena" and states that e-mails containing grand jury subpoenas "are not a valid communication from a federal court and may contain harmful links." It reminds that the judiciary's address ends in ".gov" (not ".com") and states that law enforcement authorities have been notified.

Duane Morris LLP hopes that you and your company have not been affected by this scam. If you have received a subpoena or other suspicious documents via e-mail, you should consult legal counsel to review the authenticity of the subpoena and other documents. Further, there are potential criminal and civil liability actions that may arise from this event.

In order to protect your company's computer system from such scams, computer users should review — before opening e-mails — their e-mail messages carefully for: (a) misspellings; (b) the proper spelling of the originating e-mail address; (c) whether such a document is usually sent via e-mail; and (d) other indicia of impropriety or fraud.

For Further Information

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Sheila Raftery Wiggins of the Trial Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.