We've all familiar with the Nigerian e-mail scam, in which some member of the aristocracy needs your help to get a huge pile of money out of the country. In return for your help, you will be paid handsomely, but first they just need you to give them some money to facilitate the transfer.
When people grew suspicious of their new super-rich friends on a continent where they know literally no-one, the scam turned to a purported inheritance from a distant relative. Millions of dollars waiting for you, but first just pay these handling fees...
Eventually people started to realize that if they had an incredibly rich relative, maybe they would of heard about it, and wouldn't your parents or siblings have also been contacted?
Then, scams moved on to the easiest marks of all: lawyers. People who are overconfident in their own smarts are often the easiest to scam. While they're plotting to rip you off, they never realize they've already been taken. I need your help collecting a divorce settlement, and please wire me the money before the defendant's check clears.
Finally, the scams have reached their logical conclusion: lawyers are running them on other people. The Cleveland law firm of Baker and Hostetler has been implicated in facilitating an inheritance scam which took a total of about one million dollars from nine people and two businesses.
Finding out that your father left you $14.5 million in a bank account in Burkina Faso should be a little fishy. After all, your dad never had that kind of money, wouldn't have kept it in Africa, and is still alive, so you could just call him and ask... But, slap a law firm's name on an obvious scam, and people will fork over their money.
What can we say, sometimes just inflating your billable hours gets dull.