Here’s one court appearance notice you should go ahead and ignore.
Around the country, court officials have been receiving hundreds of reports regarding virus-laden emails claiming to be from the clerk to the court and notifying recipients of upcoming mandatory court appearances. These bogus emails, which are apparently being sent at random to people from New York to Colorado, carry a dangerous virus that is capable of crashing computers.
Obtained copies of the email show messages regarding the date and time of a specific court appearance in the future. One message reads: “You are kindly asked to prepare and bring the documents relating to the case to Court on the specified date. Please, download the copy of the court notice attached herewith to read the details.” The virus-carrying attachments often include the names of prominent law firms in the file name, such as Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom; Latham & Watkins and Gibson Dunn.
The malware in the email attachments have been identified as Kuluoz/Dofoil, which is known to steal victims’ passwords and files and can turn computers into a “botnets” that surreptitiously distribute viruses without the owner’s awareness.
Below is a screenshot of one of these types of emails.
Be Wary of Attachments and Requests for Personal Info
Whether you do indeed have a pending case in court or not, be wary of any email communication that claims to be from anyone representing the court. As far as we are aware, no court sends out email communication of this type.
According to Office of Court Administration Executive Director Ronald Younkins, as quoted in the NY Daily News, “Obviously, it's nothing from the court system. We don't send out emails that have attachments that ask you to open it. We don't send out emails asking for personal information.” Younkins also added, “From what we've seen so far, there's no discernible pattern.”
As we have seen, email scams and phishing attempts continue to evolve and attempt to exploit different angles. In order to avoid becoming victimized by any of these iterations, it is critical to always use common sense, keep personal information private and avoid opening any questionable attachments or clicking any links from untrusted sources.
Until next time,