Scottish law firm hit by malicious email hoax

Police and ISPs are investigating an email - set up to look like it was from a senior Scottish lawyer - that offers to 'screw the opposition to the wall'
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

A Scottish law firm is counting the cost of a damaging hoax email that someone has sent to thousands of addresses, purporting to be from a prominent partner at the firm who promises to be a "ruthless bastard" and "screw the opposition" on behalf of his clients in legal proceedings.

The short, four-line email was sent out earlier this week and made to look like it came from legal practice Blackadders, which is based in Dundee. It is signed-off with the real phone number, name and email address of one of the firm's most experienced lawyers.

It reads: "If you want to raise a Civil Court action against someone anywhere in Scotland then I am your man. I am a ruthless bastard and I will screw the opposition to the wall even if it means bending a few rules."

Blackadders told silicon.com that the matter is now with Tayside police who are working with the firm's IT department. The company apologises to anyone who has received the email and stresses it was sent from a Hotmail address -- probably using email address-generating software favoured by spammers -- and not by an employee.

Scott Williamson, Blackadder partner with responsibility for IT, told silicon.com: "This is clearly an attempt to discredit our reputation. We're not jumping to any conclusions as to who's behind it. It could be a former client, someone who came out second best in a court action -- potentially one of thousands of people."

Blackadders has provided email header information to the police, who are now requesting ISPs release data relevant to the case.

Williamson said he doubts the culprit will be caught and added: "What's scary is how this was so easy to do. Any business affected by this kind of thing must realise the ongoing implications."

As well as adversely affecting the company's reputation, the law firm is dealing with bounced back emails from the original spam list as well as written replies -- some in themselves offensive -- asking why the partner in question would send such an email.

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