Even lawyers getting scammed over the Internet.

The New Jersey Law Journal reports that “Despite repeated warnings from the FBI, law firms continue to fall for an old internet scam. It begins with an e-mail requesting assistance with some
form of debt collection, financial settlement, or real estate transaction. If the law firm agrees, it receives a large check from the alleged debtor, and the purported client instructs the firm to deposit the check, deduct its fee, and send the rest of the money to the client. The check turns out to be counterfeit and the firm is left holding the bag, usually for $100,000 or more. According to the 2011 Internet Crime Report, the Internet Crime Complaint Center has received more than over 600 attorney collection scam complaints totaling more than $16 million in losses.

Anyone can be a victim of these types of scams. I regularly get emails from these fraudsters. The tip-off is usually some generic language explaining that the proposed defendant or counter-party is in “your jurisdiction” or “your area”. Some even list bogus telephone numbers. One claimed to come from a legitimate law firm. I went directly to that firm’s website and learned that this gentleman was a fraudster. Another time, the fraudster claimed to be from a business in Utah, but when I independently tried to contact them, using Google to verify identity by phone, the fraud was revealed.

DO NOT even respond to these emails until you have absolutely verified the existence of a real business through multiple sources. Nowadays, I would take the position that no large payment from overseas is going to be disbursed until the institution verifies directly with me that the funds are good, in writing.

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