Tip of the Month

Tip for September 2011

Don't Fall for Scams - Internet or Otherwise

Recently, the Washington Post reported that Nigeria has extradited a man accused of scamming more than 80 law firms and lawyers out of $31 million in a debt collection ruse. The fraud ring also tried to defraud 300 other lawyers and firms out of $100 million. Scammers are located everywhere, not just Nigeria, and are still targeting lawyers.

Scams against lawyers usually involve someone contacting a law firm for help collecting a debt or settling a case. Another person posing as the debtor or defendant sends a fake check to the law firm, which would take its fee before sending the remainder of the funds to the client. If the scam goes according to plan, the putative client gets the money before the fake check is discovered. Usually the lawyer is offered a large fee for doing little or no work and there is a need for a very short turn-around time.

Because the scams involve depositing funds into the lawyer’s client trust account, the funds of the lawyer’s other clients in the trust account are at risk. To prevent the conversion of other clients' funds, make sure that no funds belonging to other clients are placed at risk by wiring or drawing funds before the bank receives the funds represented by the check that was deposited - when the funds are "collected," not just "available." .

To avoid being the victim of such a scam, if you receive an email from a potential client with a deal that sounds too good to be true, resist the temptation and press the delete key.