Attorneys beware of Internet con

I receive a funky email at least three times a week stating:
a. We, of the Xio Shung (or some other Chinese sounding name) corporation have decided that we need your legal services to represent us in North America….. or
b. After a careful review of your credentials, we have decided to retain your legal services….. or
c. Please respond immediately if you are not in a position to help us. We have an immediate need for legal representation….
Anyways, these are all cons. Do you know how I know? I will tell you:
First, the email is not addressed to me personally. Its addressed to “Dear Attorney.” If the prospective client really took the time to review my credentials, you would think that they would at least know my name.
Second, the email is sent from a source that protects the anonymity of the sender such as Yahoo, AOL or gmail. You would think that a big corporation would have its own email url, right?
Third, they rarely provide a website to check out the legitimacy of the company. Today, if you do not have a website, you might as well be Fred Flintsone.
I just read an article where several law firms got sucked into these scams. I always wondered how they worked until now. Once a law firm agrees to work for these crooks, the crooks will send a retainer agreement to the law firm and a few debtor claims. The law firm sends out the demand letters to the debtors and voila, the law firm will get what appears to be a certified check from one of the debtors. The check is actually bogus, but it looks official enough for the attorney to deposit. When funds are made available, usually on the next banking day, the client then says that it has an immediate need for its portion of these proceeds and asks the attorney to wire transfer them. After the attorney does so, he learns that the checks are bogus and he gets stuck holding the bag.
Moral of the Story – Doing business over the internet can be tricky and scary. There are rewards to be had for the wise attorney and pitfalls for that very same attorney as well. As attorneys, we are a pretty smart lot. However, there are always thieves, crooks and other scan artists that can out think us. To protect ourselves, we need to pause before we accept new engagements. We certainly need to set up procedures and protocols before transferring money or property to anyone with whose identity we have not verified. Be careful.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 and is filed under Debt Collection Tricks and Traps . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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