Bar News - March 22, 2013
Overseas Client Scam Strikes New Hampshire Lawyers
Lawyers in the US and Canada, including at least two in New Hampshire within the past month, have become the targets of a scam perpetrated through email or website inquiries.
The fraudsters claim to be overseas clients in need of an American or Canadian lawyer to help collect the balance of a divorce settlement or other debt owed by someone in the lawyer’s jurisdiction.
According to www.avoidaclaim.com, a LawPro blog designed to raise awareness about legal scams, the fraudster will provide documentation about the loan. A retainer agreement will be signed, but the fraudster will delay in paying the retainer fee. Instead, the lawyer will be asked to deduct any fees from the debt payment.
Usually after the attorney sends a demand letter, a check arrives. The "client" asks the lawyer to deposit the check in the trust account and wire the balance, minus fees incurred, to an overseas account. Of course, the check is a fake and the lawyer is left with a shortfall in the trust account.
Sources on the Internet trace this business and divorce settlement scheme back as far as mid-2011 and connect a long list of names with the fake emails lawyers have received.