Lawyer Beware – Scam Targeting Lawyers


CONCORD, NH: July 15th, 2010: New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney and Deputy Banking Commissioner Robert Fleury issued a consumer alert. According to the alert, two complaints have been received in two weeks regarding lawyers who were targeted by international scam artists. One New Hampshire attorney has already been scammed out of over $240,000 due to a counterfeit check.

The alert details both cases. “In the first case, a local attorney was retained, purportedly by a large company, for a collection matter. That attorney’s client then claimed to have settled the matter on their own. A large settlement check was forwarded to the attorney, complete with a letter from local ‘opposing counsel’ on what was later determined to be fraudulent letterhead. Instructions were then sent to have settlement money wired to the client. The attorney was concerned and contacted ‘opposing counsel.’ The client did not know anything about the case. The check was deemed fraudulent. This attorney never wired the settlement money to the ‘client’ and suffered no monetary loss.”

The results of the other case are much more troubling. In that case “a local attorney was ‘retained’ by a Chinese company via e-mail. The retainer was to be paid by one of the client’s customers via bank check. The attorney received a very large check and deposited the check in an IOLTA account. The attorney then received wire transfer instructions. As a result, the bank verified that the funds were available. The attorney then wired approximately half of the total check amount to a ‘supplier’ of the client, per the client’s instructions. Within days, the attorney learned that holds had been placed on all of his business, personal and joint accounts. The initial check he had received was deemed counterfeit. Since the depositor is responsible for checks deposited into the account, this attorney suffered a loss exceeding $240,000.”

Both the State of New Hampshire and Forensicon urge all lawyers, law firms, and consumers in general to use caution when wiring funds and dealing with individuals strictly through electronic communications. Computer forensics, such as those that Forensicon excels in, may be used to solve this case.

Download a PDF of the news release nh_newsrelease.

Visit the New Hampshire Department of Justice Website to learn more.

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