Credit cards

credit cardsEd note: This post originally appeared on Peter S. Vogel’s Internet, Information Technology & e-Discovery Blog.

A Russian cybercriminal allegedly “was a leader in the marketplace for stolen credit card numbers, and even created a website offering a tutorial on how to use stolen credit card numbers to commit crime.” According to an October 9, 2014 Department of Justice (DOJ) Press Release that Roman Valerevich Seleznev, aka “Track2,” 30, of Vladivostok, Russia was indicted:

…with 11 counts of wire fraud, nine counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, nine counts of obtaining information from a protected computer, nine counts of possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

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An angry God is one without a line of credit.

* “[T]he one thing Windsor does not do is clearly establish a nationalized definition of marriage.” No one will be surprised when the same-sex marriage cases wind up before the Supreme Court. [National Law Journal]

* Law firm mergers continue to hum along at a record pace, but whether they’ll actually work out is another question entirely. Only time will tell if we’ll see another “spectacular flameout.” [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* “The billable hour’s day has passed.” Eighty percent of law firm leaders believe hourly billing may soon be going the way of the dodo in favor of alternative billing arrangements. [Capital Business / Washington Post]

* Despite its anti-gay policies, Trinity Western University Law has been granted approval from the Law Society of British Columbia to open its doors. And here we thought Canadians were supposed to be polite. [GlobalPost]

* If you want to take an “Law and _____” class, sign up for Law and Traumatic Brain Injuries at GW Law. Having a TBI yourself seems like a requirement for enrollment, but shockingly, it’s not. [New York Times]

* Times are so rough that God can’t even get a credit card. Instead of casting plagues upon the earth, he’s suing Equifax — though we’re sure he wouldn’t mind if the credit agency reps caught lice. [New York Post]

* This gem of a listing just showed up in the “legal/paralegal jobs” section of Craigslist. Be sure to send a “nude picture” with your résumé! Perhaps someone has been watching too many Maggie Gyllenhaal films. If it gets taken down a screenshot is here, and the klassy alternative picture in the listing is here. [Craigslist]

* From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department, Georgetown Law has figured out how to bilk taxpayers into covering the costs of increasing tuition. The federal government forgives law school debt for those in the public sector if they agree to make an income-based payment. Georgetown is covering those costs, passing it on to future students (who also won’t be paying it back), and then encouraging students to shelter income to guarantee the school comes out ahead. This is why we can’t have nice things. [Wonkblog / Washington Post]

* The always outspoken Judge Kopf shares his thoughts on Shon Hopwood’s selection as a clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown. Judge Kopf sentenced Hopwood to 147 months in the 90s. [Hercules and the Umpire]

* A delightful “man bites dog” story: a bank didn’t read a customer’s amendments to a credit card application before issuing him a card and went to court whining about how hard it is to pay attention to the fine print. Boo hoo hoo. [The Telegraph]

* How to deal with your mistakes. This only applies to associates, though. Partners have two steps: (1) find an associate; (2) blame the associate. [Associate's Mind]

* Everything’s bigger in Texas, including their misreading of the Supreme Court’s precedent. [Election Law Blog]

* China is way serious about prosecuting corruption. [Legal Juice]

* The Mets muscle man whose comic inability to open a water bottle went viral on YouTube is actually a lawyer from White Plains. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, it’s after the jump. Watching the water bottle battle is the only excuse for subjecting yourself to a Royals-Mets game…

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Despite his status as an Article III demigod, Chief Justice John Roberts is a man of the people. Instead of reclining on a divan while eating frozen grapes fed to him by eunuch law clerks, which is how I’d roll if I were the Chief Justice of the United States, JGR patronizes places like Cosi, Au Bon Pain, and Carmine’s.

And the chief even goes to Starbucks — where His Honor recently revealed something surprising about himself….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Chief Justice John Roberts: Just Like Us!”

* Unhappy with eleventy billion dollars in damages due to Apple, Samsung will begin its appeals, perhaps even to the Supreme Court (because you know that SCOTUS wants a bite at the proverbial literal patent apple). [Wall Street Journal]

* And speaking of that jury award, jury foreman Velvin Hogan had this to say about it: “We wanted to make sure it was sufficiently high to be painful, but not unreasonable.” Yeah, because a billion dollars in damages isn’t unreasonable at all. [Reuters]

* Do judges with lawyerly license plates avoid traffic infractions instead of getting tickets? The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct is investigating this issue of epic importance. [New York Law Journal]

* If bill collectors are threatening to sue you over your credit-card debts, you better pray that your case lands on Judge Noach Dear’s docket, because in his courtroom, “it’s dismiss, dismiss, dismiss.” [New York Post]

* Hippies can file lawsuits, too: Burning Man starts today, but the event’s organizers claim that its Nevada venue is pursuing a new theme in view of a “drastic increase in fees” — burning money. [All Things Digital]

* Protestors should be allowed to act however they want when carrying prohibited machetes in Republican National Convention event zones. This was the first, and definitely the coolest, RNC arrest made. [ABC News]

Judge Judy

* Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be the oldest member of the high court, but she’s still one bad ass bitch. She broke two ribs in June, and still fulfilled all of her duties on the bench. We <3 RBG! [Reuters]

* While merchants will now be able to charge more when customers use credit cards, they might not get much else from this Visa / MasterCard settlement because of an American Express catch-22. [New York Times]

* The Garden State just got a little greener (in a sticky icky way): starting today, doctors in New Jersey will be able to register their patients for the Department of Health’s medical marijuana program. [Star-Ledger]

* After some highly questionable opposition from government officials, the city of Macon, Georgia, has approved the placement of a park bench in memory of slain Mercer Law grad Lauren Giddings. [Telegraph]

* Kansas Law received a $1M donation to support scholarships. The dean is thrilled, because the school will be able to compete to attract and retain students who will someday be unemployed. [Lawrence Journal-World]

* The verdict is in on who reigns as the highest paid TV personality. Even if you pee on her leg and tell her it’s raining, Judge Judy will be able to afford the dry-cleaning bill, because she’s loaded. [New York Daily News]

* Even if you’re a ho fo’ sho, that doesn’t mean you can’t do business in a ho-tel, mo-tel, or Holiday Inn. An Australian court ruled that denying prostitutes rooms was discriminatory. [International Business Times]

In the late 90’s, lawyers taking credit cards was not the norm.

Stores took credit cards. Restaurants took credit cards. Lawyers took checks and wire transfers, and yes, cash in rubber bands. It was typical lawyer arrogance and ego – taking credit cards turned the lawyer in to a merchant, and paying a portion of the fee (because if you check your state ethics rules and opinions you may find you cannot charge the client for the percentage you pay the credit card company… oops) for the convenience of the client being able to “charge it” was seen as unattractive.

I didn’t take credit cards at first, a couple years later I started, and now I take them under certain conditions. One, I don’t advertise that I take credit cards. No signs on my door, no indication on invoices. If the client asks, the answer is yes, but like many places, there is a minimum amount (and no, it’s not $20). For volume-type lawyers who charge small fees, credit cards are a great way to sign up clients and maintain a good cash flow. For those with bigger fees and smaller practices, it’s a last resort for that client that you believe may have an issue paying, or who just can’t come up with the retainer unless it’s charged on a credit card.

Visa and Mastercard rates are lower than AMEX, but in the end, you’re looking at getting about 96% of the fee once the percentage and transaction fees are paid. If you can’t survive on that, I can’t help you.

What about house calls?

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Last week’s massive credit card data breach was a frustrating reminder that despite everything, all the fights over privacy rights and legislative shouting, if somebody wants to steal an extraordinarily large number of personal consumer information for nefarious purposes, they can probably do it.

As a refresher, on March 30, Global Payments, a third-party payment processor, reported that it had suffered a data breach. Someone gained unauthorized access to company information, a.k.a. private data of people with accounts with major credit card companies such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover Financial Services.

So, exactly how many people’s information might have been compromised? Let’s just say it’s more than six figures…

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

There’s this great little Chilean sandwich shop near my office in Boston. Now I don’t know the first thing about Chilean cuisine, but it says “Chilean” on the sign, so that’s good enough for me. They serve sandwiches on these freshly baked flat loaves about the size of a pita but maybe five times as thick. They put chicken or steak on the bread, then steamed green beans — apparently that’s the authentic Chilean touch — plus Muenster, tomatoes, avocado spread, a creamy hot sauce (that’s very hot), and salt and pepper.

The shop, called “Chacarero” (which apparently means “chacarero”) started with a pushcart, then a lunch counter (in the old Filene’s building, which is now just an empty hole in the ground), then two full-blown restaurants.

But apparently things aren’t going well anymore, because they abruptly closed one of the two restaurants, and the other one seems less busy. And if you ask me, it’s because they’re making a mistake that many small law firms make.…

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