Many law firms are only vaguely aware of the importance of cybersecurity. By the time they realize that they should have been taking this concern more seriously, it is usually too late. Over the years, numerous lawyers have accidentally sent their clients’ money to hackers – and this has caused at least one individual to lose their entire divorce settlement. Not only does this damage a firm’s reputation, but it also makes them vulnerable to lawsuits from disgruntled clients who have effectively lost everything.

$375k Divorce Settlement Sent to Hacker in Hong Kong

In June of 2024, it was reported that a prominent lawyer and radio host in Denver had mistakenly sent a seven-figure divorce settlement to an “anonymous hacker” in Hong Kong. The $375,000 settlement was supposed to go to a woman in Denver, and this individual now has no idea how she will make ends meet. The 66-year-old says that she is “taking classes” to figure out how to earn money – and she may never retire. 

She is also suing the lawyer who made this mistake after holding the money in escrow when the spouses sold their home in south Denver. The lawyer allegedly received an email instructing him to wire the money to a bank in Hong Kong, and the hacker who wrote the message tricked him into thinking that the woman was on a flight to the Chinese city. 

The woman pointed out that her name was spelled wrong in the email and that the message was clearly written by a non-native English speaker. However, perhaps the most obvious red flag was the email address, which the woman had never used before. She also questions why the lawyer could have possibly believed she was on a flight to Hong Kong when she was struggling with financial pressures at the time. She pointed out that she was working at a garden center while approaching the pending divorce. 

To make this story even more ridiculous, the lawyer apparently contacted the hacker by phone in an attempt to confirm their identity. Despite the existence of a “thick Asian accent,” the lawyer became convinced he was talking to Denver womanand he subsequently wired the cash. Adding salt to the wound, the lawyer charged $825 for the two hours he spent overseeing the transfer. 

This ids Not the First Time Something Like This Has Happened

This story is hardly unique. In 2020, a British woman lost 95,000 pounds of her inheritance money after her lawyer’s email was hacked. In 2023, another major firm mistakenly sent $3 million to hackers in Hong Kong. This came after the hackers impersonated shareholders involved in an acquisition, successfully instructing the law firm to send money to a Hong Kong bank. In 2024, Reuters reported that a law firm had mistakenly wired over $1 million to hackers who used a sophisticated email scheme to intercept settlement funds. All of these law firms ultimately faced lawsuits as a result of these mistakes.