An Internet Fraud Alert for Law Firms – Large and Small
Jennings Smith Associates, Inc alerts all Law Firm clients to a financial fraud scheme that has victimized numerous successful law firms and individual attorneys throughout the United States. The scheme begins with an e-mail based offer to a law firm inviting them to serve as local counsel in a bill collection matter involving thousands of dollars. The solicitation e-mail appears to come from a legitimate company based in Asia or Eastern Europe. After initial contact is made through the Internet, an engagement letter is exchanged between the “client” and the law firm (either party can supply the engagement letter). Several days after the engagement letter has been executed, the client advises the law firm that the debtor has decided to settle the debt and will forward a bank check payable to the law firm.
Shortly thereafter, a US-based bank check arrives in the mail made payable to the law firm. The law firm is instructed to deposit the check into their account and then wire transfer the balance of the check to the international client, once the law firm’s charges have been deducted. The wire transfers are routed to a bank in Japan or Hong Kong from where the “client” withdraws the money, before the law firm is notified that the check they deposited to their account in the United States is counterfeit. Numerous large law firms have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to this scheme, which is being investigated by federal authorities. Don’t become a victim!