“Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing …” the notice to appear in court starts.
The email, from firstname.lastname@example.org, looks authentic and legal. An Internet search shows sullcrom.com is associated with a weighty law firm in New York. The request is to discuss the illegal use of software by Valarie Pabalis.
“I’ve got no idea what this is or even if it’s a legal request,” says Pabalis, who is owner of Elements Therapeutic Massage in Meridian. “It says there’s a pretrial notice attached, but I’m confused by the whole notice.”
Idaho residents are calling about emails titled Urgent Court Notice, Judicial Summons, Notice of Appearance, Pretrial Notice, or Notice to Appear in Court, that seem to come from law firms in the United States and UK. The email has a spoofed addresses, meaning it seems to be from a legitimate law firm.
It is accompanied by a court docket number: N#7685, N#98208, N#9411-583… to mention a few that have come to the BBB office and a PDF or a WORD.doc attachment accompanies the email and should not be opened or unzipped. If it says .EXE then it is a problem and should not be run or opened. If you open the attachment, your computer becomes infected with a malware called, Asprox. Among other things, your computer can be used to spam more people with the malware, commit advertisement fraud or worse.
In U.S. law, process is usually a summons – a paper that tells a defendant he/she is being sued in a specific court. Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure should be delivered in person or “by mail.” The only time the courts will deliberately contact a party via email is to let them know that an appeals court decision is about to be issued and, even in those cases, the persons will be notified by mail.
The IC3 warns consumers of recently reported spam email containing a fraudulent subpoena notifying recipients they are commanded to appear and testify before a Grand Jury. The e-mail attempts to appear authentic by containing a court case number, federal code, name and address of a federal court, court room number, issuing officers’ names, and a court seal.
Recipients are told to click the link provided in the e-mail to download and print associated information for their records. If the recipient clicks the link, malicious code is downloaded on their computer.
The e-mail also has threats with contempt of court charges if they fail to appear. Recipients are also told the subpoena will stay in effect until the court grants a release. As with most spam, the content has multiple spelling errors.
If you receive this type of notification and are unsure of its authenticity, you should contact the issuing court for validation. You can forward the messages to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com or FBI at IC3.gov.